Arkansas Agriculture

Jacob Slaton / Clinton School of Public Service

  

Adding to Congress’s already lengthy to-do list, the federal government’s primary tool for agricultural and food policy, known as the farm bill, will need congressional reauthorization this year.  Originally designed to keep crop prices fair for consumers and farmers during the Great Depression, the bill is a piece of legislation with broad-reaching effects, especially for Arkansans.

The Arkansas Plant Board has doubled down on its plan to ban Dicamba, the agricultural weed killer. The vote Wednesday was a slight rebuke of state Rep. Bill Sample (R-Hot Springs) and colleagues on a legislative subcommittee that last month asked the board to reconsider the ban, specifically the April 15 cutoff date for spraying Monsanto’s controversial herbicide.

 

David Wildy, a prominent Arkansas farmer, in a field of soybeans that were damaged by dicamba.
Dan Charles / NPR News

The State Plant Board will meet next Wednesday to reconsider a ban on a controversial weed killer that has divided Arkansas’s farming community. The meeting is in response to a request for changes by a subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council for restrictions in the use of dicamba during next year’s growing season.

The herbicide can be sprayed on crops that have been genetically modified to tolerate it, but is blamed for widespread damage to neighboring non-resistant crops.

Arkansas Forestry Commission

Conditions in Arkansas are still dangerously dry despite rainfall over the weekend.

Much of the western half of the state is under threat of wildfires with 58 of the state’s 75 counties still under active burn bans as of Monday. That number is down from a high of 70 late last week.

Tiny Ips beetles, about the size of a grain of rice, are posing a risk to pine forests in southwest Arkansas. The state Department of Agriculture is advising landowners to survey property, contact foresters, and consider clear cutting infested trees. Forest Health Specialist Chandler Barton, with the state Forestry Commission, says extreme drought levels are weakening trees and making them susceptible to insects and disease.

Dicamba damage
University of Arkansas

Arkansas lawmakers have recommended state regulators reconsider their plan to ban a controversial herbicide that's been blamed for widespread damage by farmers who say it's drifted onto their crops.

A subcommittee of the Legislative Council on Tuesday voted to delay considering rules proposed by the state Plant Board to prohibit the use of dicamba from April 16 through Oct. 31 next year. The subcommittee's recommendation on Friday goes before the full council, which is the Legislature's primary governing body when lawmakers aren't in session.

Dicamba damage
University of Arkansas

Monsanto has asked a judge to prevent Arkansas lawmakers from banning the use of a weed killer that farmers in several states have said drifts onto their crops and causes widespread damage.

The Missouri-based agribusiness asked a Pulaski County judge to issue a preliminary injunction preventing the state from banning dicamba's use while the company challenges a prohibition approved by the Arkansas Plant Board last month.

thanksgiving governor asa hutchinson turkey agriculture
David Monteith / KUAR News

The traditional trappings of Thanksgiving have a significant economic impact on the state of Arkansas, officials said in a ceremony on the steps of the state Capitol Monday.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson declared this Turkey Week in Arkansas. According to The Poultry Federation President Marvin Childers, the state ranks third in the nation in turkey production.

Brad Graham is driving his truck along the edge of a catfish pond near Lake Village, blowing a soybean grain mixture into the water.

“My stepdad was into fish farming, and I just decided I wanted to do a little bit of farming,” he says.

More than 150 wood pellet manufacturing mills operate across the U.S., many supplying the domestic woodstove pellet market with home heating fuel.

More than a quarter are industrial pellet mills, grinding thousands of acres of forest into biomass for overseas export to electrical utilities stoking retrofitted coal-fire furnaces with "densified" wood.

The largest mills, concentrated in the southeastern U.S., claim to sustainably harvest timber, from both hardwood and softwood forests. But a new mill, Highland Pellets in Pine Bluff, which harvests only fast-growing Southern softwood pine may be among the greenest.

Still, the calculated ecological costs and benefits of forest biomass remain hazy.

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