Arkansas Agriculture

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 / Flickr.com

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
wikimedia.org

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?

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 in House Agriculture in 2015.
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.

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