Arkansas Agriculture

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?

Cuba
Jorge Royan / Wikimedia Commons

Some Arkansas rice growers are looking favorably on President Obama’s plans at the end of this week to interact – in a limited fashion - with Cuba’s leader Raul Castro during the Summit of the Americas in Panama.

The director of the Arkansas Rice Growers Association, Greg Yielding, said Arkansas farmers are losing out on sales with Cuba to countries such as Brazil and Uruguay.

Chad Causey with Catfish Farmers of America (left) and state Rep. Michael John Gray (D-Augusta) speaking to committee members.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

More descriptive labels may be coming to catfish products in stores and restaurants after a voice vote in the House Agriculture, Forestry, and Economic Development Committee on Wednesday easily advanced a bill to the House floor. 

State Rep. Jim Sorvillo (R-Little Rock)
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Commercial dog breeding would be subject to inspections and require a license under a bill to be taken up Friday morning in the state House Agriculture committee.

Republican Representative Jim Sorvillo sponsored the bill and said the measure will help bring Arkansas’s protections up to par with neighboring states.

“What we don’t want is an animal that stays in a cage confined from six months to eight or ten years and that’s all they do,” said Sorvillo.

Bill Would License, Regulate Grain Dealers In Response To Turner Grain Crisis

Feb 25, 2015

A bill was filed Wednesday that would let the State Plant Board require grain dealers to post surety bonds, obtain a license, and temporarily rescind that license without a hearing.

Senate Bill 555, the Arkansas Grain Dealers Act, is a reaction to the loss by Arkansas farmers of millions of dollars unpaid by Brinkley-based dealer Turner Grain Merchandizing. Butch Calhoun, Arkansas’ secretary of agriculture, in October estimated total producer losses at $50 million.

rice fields
Mickey Liaw / Flickr.com

Members of Arkansas' congressional delegation have joined colleagues from other states in urging Secretary of State John Kerry to encourage Iraq to purchase more American-produced rice.

Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton and Arkansas Reps. Rick Crawford and Bruce Westerman have signed a letter that seeks diplomatic assistance to improve trade relations with the Iraqi Grain Board. In recent years, the board has bought rice from other nations over lower cost American rice.

Arkansas growers set or tied state records for yields in six crops in 2014, exceeding the national average in per-acre yield in four categories.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2014 Crop Production Annual Survey released Monday, Arkansas growers set state records for cotton, corn for grain, all rice and long grain rice, soybeans and sweet potatoes. Average yields for corn, cotton, long grain rice and soybeans all exceeded national averages.

Cuba
Jorge Royan / Wikimedia Commons

Agricultural opinions in Arkansas were upbeat about President Obama’s plan to move towards normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba, but political attitudes were mixed.

On Wednesday, Obama announced a plan to re-establish some diplomatic and economic ties between the U.S. and the communist island nation using Presidential authority and actions.

U. S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has made disaster declarations for farmers in two Arkansas counties that suffered losses and damage due to high winds and hail that occurred on Oct. 7.

Responding to requests from Gov. Mike Beebe, Vilsack issued the primary county disaster declarations in Craighead and Mississippi counties. Additionally, Crittenden, Greene, Jackson, Lawrence, and Poinsett counties were named as contiguous disaster counties.

Cotton farmers in northeast Arkansas are being urged to report damage to their crop as a result of a hail storm while officials seek a disaster declaration.

State Rep. Homer Lenderman told The Jonesboro Sun that damage from Monday's storm is "probably not" enough to warrant a federal disaster declaration. But he said officials are working to get a state disaster declaration.

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