Governor meets with area farmers
Governor Asa Hutchinson and other guests were welcomed to Adams Estate in Leachville on Wednesday. The stop was part of the Governor's two day, seven county turnrow tour of East and Northeast Arkansas. Tour stops included Arkansas, Clay, Cross, Lee, Lonoke, Mississippi and Randolph Counties.
The purpose of the tour was to allow farmers to meet with Gov. Hutchinson to discuss critical issues facing farmers with topics of discussion ranging from flooding to row crop farming. Gov. Hutchinson told the group he was there to listen.
David Wildy, area farmer, welcomed Governor Hutchinson.
“Arkansas agriculture is diverse,” Wildy said. “Everything from A to Z can be grown in Arkansas. Challenges are not all on the same page.”
Gov. Hutchinson recognized Wes Ward, secretary of agriculture; Danny Finch, with the plant board; and Randy Veach, State Farm Bureau president, expressing his appreciation for their leadership.
Agriculture is a $16 billion industry and number one in Arkansas.
“We are delighted to have China open their market to our rice and hope Cuba can be next,” Gov. Hutchinson said.
He talked about one of the largest textile manufacturing companies in China, Ruyi, making a $410 million investment, with 800 jobs coming to Forrest City and located in the former Sanyo building. The company will be buying 800,000 bales of cotton every year when in full production. Arkansas produced 840,000 bales of cotton in 2016.
“I am excited for agriculture,” he said.
The main topic of the afternoon in Leachville was the dicamba issue. There have been over 200 complaints to the plant board from Mississippi County. Hutchinson said due to the volume of complaints there is a 120 day ban put on the use and a task force put into place to look at the issue. He said it is an important issue.
Gov. Hutchinson expressed his appreciation to David Wildy who will be serving on the task force.
Among the comments made, Danny Dunigan of Lake City said regardless of how good the technology is, applicators are not, or can not, keep it in the fields.
He went on to talk about extreme damage and concerns, not just in the fields but on trees and gardens.
Dunigan said if this continues, it will force farmers out of business.
Another grower commented growers would be forced to use dicamba gene plants they do not want to use due to prevent damage.
Gov. Hutchinson asked why there were so many more complaints in Mississippi County.
Eddie Dunigan commented it is the same in Craighead County.
Area grower Todd Edwards said he was one of the first hit three years ago. He commented as the product is now, it can drift up to 36 hours.
Wildy said the dicamba issue is one of the most controversial issues he has seen in his 43 years of farming. He chose not to use it because what they raise is so diverse.
“I pledge I will be objective in looking for ways to use it, but until it can be kept on target it has to stop,” Wildy said.
He said he understands some want to use the herbicide and others don't.
Governor Hutchinson said he felt the right approach had been made. There is a 120 day ban and by then recommendations can be heard and readdressed.
Answering questions, he said the task force will have its first meeting Aug. 17 and will push to have a quick report to the plant board and the Governor.
Rep. Dan Sullivan said in his experience sometimes government moves slowly but this is moving quickly with a task force in place.
Other comments about dicamba were made about testing, damage, volatility, etc.
“We have a great state and a lot going for us in industry and agriculture,” Wildy said. “I appreciate everyone for coming out today.”