Arkansas Grown Produce Gets A Boost From Wal-Mart

Jun 12, 2017

Michael Hensley, an Arkansas tomato farmer who sells his produce with the "Arkansas Grown" label in Wal-Marts across the state and country.
Credit David Monteith / KUAR

Wal-Mart unveiled new signs at its stores promoting its “Arkansas Grown” program Monday.

Company officials say the marketing strategy is part of the Arkansas-based retailer’s commitment to purchase an additional $250 billion worth of products assembled, made, or grown in the U.S. by 2023.

Michael Hensley, a tomato farmer from Bradley county, Arkansas, said his farm’s 15-year relationship with Wal-Mart has given him peace of mind.

Speaking at a Wal-Mart in southwest Little Rock, Hensley said, “Since the connection with Wal-Mart has been in place, its added stability to what we do. We grow a crop and we know where most of it is going to be sold. We still have to fight mother nature, but when you have some security that a customer of this size is that committed to buying your crop it takes one of the big factors away.”

“We [Wal-Mart] bought 325,000 pounds of Arkansas watermelons last year, 700,000 pounds of squash, 650,000 pounds of great Arkansas peaches. We buy 39 different fruits and vegetables from Arkansas,” said Joe Quinn, a senior director with the retail giant.

Wal-Mart hopes making it easier to for customers to identify and purchase Arkansas products will lead directly to more jobs in the state. Hensley’s farm, H & H Farms, acts a distribution center for other Arkansas farms; the entire operation employs roughly 400 people each year.