On the first day of spring, I proclaimed March 20 as Arkansas Agriculture Day.
This is a well-earned distinction. Agriculture in Arkansas is the Number 1 industry. One out of every six jobs in Arkansas is related to agriculture, and each of our 75 counties produces some sort of crop, livestock or timber.
Arkansas consistently ranks in the top 25 in the nation for the production of more than 15 different agricultural commodities. We rank 16th in the nation with $8 billion in total cash receipts from agriculture.
Our farmers and ranchers contribute more than $21 billion to our economy on 43,000 farms that cover 14 million acres.
Arkansas grows more rice than any other state, and our farmers rank among the top 10 for broilers, soybeans, cattle, eggs, turkeys, corn, and hogs. Arkansas is among the top 25 states for acres harvested in specialty crops such as blackberries, dewberries, peas, okra, and turnips.
I grew up on a farm. I have met hundreds of farmers and ranchers, and I know how hard they work to earn a living.
Just in my three years in office, I have observed farmers and ranchers endure both drought and devastating flooding. Through it all, they have proven to be creative, resilient, efficient, and hardworking. They are among our best and brightest, and their labor benefits not only Arkansans and Americans, but people around the world.
Behind the scenes, our farmers and ranchers have tremendous support from the Arkansas Agriculture Department, under the leadership of Secretary Wes Ward.
Hundreds of state employees play a vital role in protecting and promoting our farmers and ranchers through the Forestry Commission, the Plant Board, the Bureau of Standards, the Livestock and Poultry Commission, and various other programs that market Arkansas Grown and Arkansas Made products.
The Arkansas Agriculture Department employs researchers and scientists who are experts in timber, crops, pests, and water quality.
Forestry Commission firefighters not only protect our forests, but also protect crops, livestock, and farm structures from wildfire.
The department deploys experts whenever there is an outbreak of an animal disease or an infestation of insects that can destroy crops or trees.
There is a wise old saying that we shouldn’t fuss about farmers with our mouths full of food. As governor of a state that produces some of the best food in the world, I am proud of our farmers, and that is why I proclaimed March 20 as Arkansas Agriculture Day.
Arkansas’s agricultural strength gives us the ability to overcome challenges and to work together for the benefit of the industry at the state, national, and international level. Our agricultural producers are the backbone of our state’s economy and the foundation for our future.
For that reason, we should honor Arkansas agriculture not only on March 20, but every day of the year.