Arkansas Agriculture

Boozman agriculture Keo Fish Farm
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

U.S. Sen. John Boozman is touring Arkansas during the August recess this week to talk about agricultural issues.

The Republican lawmaker on Monday announced he's traveling the state as part of his fifth annual agricultural tour. Boozman is kicking off the tour on Tuesday.

Boozman sits on the Senate Agriculture Committee and recently introduced legislation to give more flexibility to federal child nutrition programs, especially during summer feeding programs.

Flood Waters

A report shows that recent floods in a southwest Arkansas county caused more than $14 million in damages.

The county's emergency coordinator says that around half of the land in Little River County was flooded by nearby bodies of water, including the Red River, following severe weather in May and June.

The Texarkana Gazette reports that the report was prepared by county officials and the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. The study shows more than 20 county roads were closed due to flooding.

Cotton farmers in Arkansas are expected this year to plant the fewest acres ever in Arkansas' cotton growing history.

The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension estimates that cotton acreage could fall below 200,000 for the first time.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated in March that the cotton acreage would drop by more than 30 percent from last year. The previous low in the state was in 2013 with 310,000 acres.

Division economists say 90 percent of the drop in planting is due to falling U.S. per pound cotton prices.

Rains across Arkansas have put a damper on the 2015 wheat harvest in the state.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that total production was just more than 19 million bushels - down from almost 25 million bushels in 2014. The yield averaged out at 56 bushels per acre - down from 63 bushels per acre last year.

Agronomist Jason Kelley with University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture says rains in February and March delayed the application of fertilizer and the poor drainage also reduced the yield.

As an additional indicator of improving relations between the U.S. and Cuba, fifty-three Arkansans hosted by the State Chamber of Commerce will begin a week-long visit to Cuba Tuesday. Senior Vice President of the Chamber, Susie Marks says this trip is not focused on forging official business or economic ties, however several members of the group are from key Arkansas industries.

“From the start of our trip there was a lot of interest from the agricultural sector of our state's economy, so there may be an opportunity to open that a little more,” said Marks. 

Seed Foundation Facility Headed To Stuttgart

Apr 29, 2015
rice fields
Mickey Liaw /

The Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board announced plans Tuesday to direct $2 million to help construct a seed foundation facility at the state’s Rice Research and Extension Center in Stuttgart.

The facility will assist scientists and researchers to bring new higher yielding, high quality rice varieties to market so Arkansas farmers can profitably grow rice that meets worldwide demand.

The center, along with the new Foundation Seed Facility, is operated by the University of Arkansas System, Division of Agriculture.

A challenge to a federal court ruling enjoining over $3 million in federal loan guarantees to a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) in the Buffalo National River Watershed has been dropped. The US Department of Justice withdrew its challenge to US Eastern District Judge D. Price Marshall's ruling on Friday. The loan-giving agencies - the Small Business Administration and the Farm Service Agency - now have to complete an environmental impact study within one year in order for the loans to C&H Hog Farms be guaranteed.

The Buffalo River

A 180-day moratorium on new concentrated animal feeding operations – or CAFOs – in the Buffalo River Watershed is now in effect, for the third time.

The chance for normalized commercial relations with Cuba are expected to create opportunities for Arkansas farmers, an official with Riceland Foods told a U.S. Senate committee Tuesday.

Terry Harris, the senior vice president of marketing and risk management for the Stuttgart-based cooperative, told Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., and other members of the Senate Agriculture Committee during a hearing on opportunities and challenges for agriculture trade with Cuba.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman (R) at Little Rock's VA Hospital
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

KAUFFMAN: President Obama is in Panama meeting at the Summit of the Americas and it could pay big dividends for Arkansas rice growers. U.S. Senator John Boozman - a Republican from Rogers – joins me in the studio. Thanks for being here. 

BOOZMAN: Thank you so much for having me Jacob.

KAUFFMAN: The more sensational news coming out of the President’s journey to meet with leaders from South America, Central America and the Caribbean, is that for the first time Cuba will be there. Is this one more signal, in an avalanche that better economic ties are around the corner?