Arkansas Agriculture

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.

rice fields
Mickey Liaw / Flickr.com

Plumes of smoke fill the autumn skies in the Delta as farmers burn row crop field refuse, and many complain about the side-effects of the smoke. Arkansas rice industry leaders have decided to form a task force to examine the issue, Arkansas Rice Federation Executive Director Lauren Waldrip Ward told Talk Business & Politics.

How many members the task force will have and when it will meet have not been determined, but it will include stakeholders from across the state’s agricultural industries and there will be communications with those who oppose field burning, she said.

Arkansas soybean farmers who rely on a chemical called Dicamba to kill weeds must stop using it during the growing season next year. That’s because it has allegedly been drifting to neighboring farms and killing crops.

On the eve of a major decision by the state over the controversial weed killer dicamba, tensions are running high in Arkansas’s farming communities.

“This is probably the most divisive the agricultural community has ever been,” said Shawn Peebles, an organic farmer in Augusta. 

Peebles said he hasn’t personally sustained damage from dicamba drift but he is experiencing issues with companies no longer wanting to do business with Arkansas growers due to concerns about residue from the weed killer.  

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