Arkansas Agriculture

tomato disease
Rutgers University

Heavy spring rains in Arkansas have resulted in a fungal disease that destroys tomato plants.

Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service pest management specialist Jackie Lee says late blight has been found in 14 counties in central Arkansas. She says about three plants are typically seen each year with the disease, but that 20 infected plants have been diagnosed this year.

Lee said the disease starts at the bottom of the plant and works its way up, rapidly killing the plant. The first sign is a brownish gray tissue on the leaves.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced a $94,000 grant to the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance to help low-income Arkansans buy fruits and vegetables.

The grant is for the program Double Up Food Bucks that's part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - formerly known as Food Stamps.

The program allows families to double the amount of SNAP money spent for fruits and vegetables at participating farmers markets. As an example, a family spending $10 on fruits and vegetables at a participating market would be able to spend $20.

Heavy rains throughout northeast Arkansas have delayed the start of the winter wheat harvest and damaged other crops in the state.

State cooperative extension service officials say the weather has delayed the harvest by at least a week. Harvest typically starts at the end of May in southern Arkansas and moves north.

Officials say the rains can reduce overall quality grain quality after the crop matures and lowers the price producers can sell their grain for.

rice fields
Mickey Liaw / Flickr.com

Business growth in Arkansas lost a step in April as a leading economic indicator for the region shows the state’s manufacturing, farming and energy sectors continue to shed jobs and affect overall economic expansion.

Jacqueline Froelich / KUAF

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality is discontinuing its practice of issuing permits for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, also known as CAFOs. 

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

A national group of business leaders and others working to open trade with Cuba launched a state council in Little Rock Monday.

James Williams, President of the umbrella group, Engage Cuba, said Arkansas lawmakers are leading the effort to lift the 55 year-old trade embargo against the country. 

Cuba is the number one rice consumer in the Western Hemisphere, he said, adding he believes it is "ridiculous" the country cannot purchase U.S. products on credit.

"We're 90 miles away and they're buying their rice in Vietnam. We're all outraged by that fact.”

rice fields
Mickey Liaw / Flickr.com

Arkansas agriculture experts say it could be early next week before farmers in many areas of the state are able to return to their fields to plant row crops.

Darci Vetter U.S. Trade Representative
Arkansas Farm Bureau web stream

Darci Vetter, one of the Obama administration’s key negotiators for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, is making her case in Arkansas for the necessity of getting congressional approval of the controversial trade pact by the end of 2016.

Vetter, chief Agriculture Negotiator for the Office of the United States Trade Representative, outlined pros and cons of the 12-nation trade deal and why she believed it is important.

David Monteith / KUAR

Representatives of Arkansas’s agricultural community and political leaders will be discussing state and national policies impacting farmers at the Farm Policy Summit in Little Rock this week. Randy Veach, president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau, says policies which have increased costs to farmers are among the topics to be covered.

http://www.arfb.com

Challenges facing the agriculture industry will be the topic of discussion at a farm policy summit in Little Rock this week.

Farmers, national policy leaders and the state's congressional delegation are set to attend the 3-day summit hosted by the Arkansas Farm Bureau.

Speakers include Zippy Duvall, the president of the American Farm Bureau, who said farmers and ranchers are facing some of the biggest challenges they have seen in years.

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