Governor Hutchinson Proclaims Farmers Market Week in the
State of Arkansas
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture (Department) joins organizations across the country in celebrating National Farmers Market Week August 2 – 8, 2020. Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture, was joined by Jeremy Adams, Arkansas Farmers Market Association; Rick Jensen, Rick’s Farm Stand and Arkansas Grown member; Ron Rainey, Arkansas MarketMaker; Cynthia Edwards, Arkansas Deputy Secretary of Agriculture; Karen Reynolds, Arkansas Agriculture Program Manager; and others at Rick’s Farm Stand on Tuesday, August 4, to present the proclamation signed by Governor Hutchinson.

Arkansas is home to over 100 farmers markets around the state and are a vital link to members of the Arkansas Grown, Arkansas Made, and Homegrown by Heroes branding programs. These programs, which are administered through the Department, help promote the many agriculture products that are grown in Arkansas, and often assist the 900 members in making the critical connection between producers and consumers.

“Arkansas farmers markets have excelled in continuing to support our farmers and providing a place for Arkansans to shop for fresh, locally grown and made products,” said Ward. “Their innovation, passion, and dedication have been an important factor in the increased interest in buying local and supporting our local farmers.”

In the midst of a global pandemic, farmers markets have been innovating to continue operations for the farmers and communities that depend on them. Market managers have been at the forefront of adapting rapid solutions to protect staff, customers, and the community. 
Public Asked To Report Receipt of any
Unsolicited Packages of Seeds

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture has received multiple reports that private citizens in Arkansas have received unsolicited packages containing seeds that appear to have originated from China. The types of seeds in the packages are varied. The packages were sent by mail and may have Chinese writing on them.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) and the Arkansas Department of Agriculture (Department) are asking Arkansans who have received these unsolicited packages not to open, plant, or throw the seeds away. The Department encourages anyone who has received unsolicited seeds in the mail to place the unopened seed packet in a sealed bag and report the package via the Unsolicited Seed Reporting Form or to contact the Plant Industries Division at 501-225-1598. The Unsolicited Seed Reporting Form and more information can also be found at

Once the contact information is received, the Department will arrange to have the seeds picked up by a Department employee. The Department will transfer the seeds to the USDA for identification and/or destruction. 

Those who have planted the seeds should leave the plants where they are and contact the Department for guidance.

The USDA-APHIS does not have any evidence that this is something other than a “brushing scam” where sellers send unsolicited items to unsuspecting consumers and then post false reviews to boost sales. Based on preliminary analysis of seed samples, the seed packets appear to be a mix of horticultural and weed species.

The interception of unidentified seeds in international mail shipments is not uncommon. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) estimates that there were 15,000 interceptions of seeds from all sources worldwide, and 5,000 from China and Hong Kong in 2019.

The Department reminds consumers that online purchases of plants, seeds, and other plant products may pose risks due to the possibility that these items may contain a range of invasive pests and diseases. These purchases can also be illegal without proper inspections and paperwork, such as permits or plant health certificates. Before buying seeds or plants online from international vendors, Arkansans should contact the Department’s Plant Industries Division at 501-225-1598 to ask if the items need to be inspected or meet other conditions to bring them into the United States legally and without pests.
Arkansas Department of Agriculture Issues Reminder about Vesicular Stomatitis Virus Animal Movement Restrictions in Arkansas

The Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) infection was confirmed on July 27 in three horses on a premise in Benton County, Arkansas. The Arkansas Department of Agriculture (Department) issued an alert and implemented animal movement restrictions immediately after federal confirmation of the VSV infection on July 27.

VSV is a viral disease affecting horses, cattle, sheep, goats, and swine. The confirmed VSV infection in Benton County appears to be a strain that predominantly impacts equine. Transmission commonly occurs through bites from black flies, sand flies, and other biting insects.

Current VSV movement restrictions affect all Arkansas based equine, including horses, donkeys, mules, and others originating from a county of, or an adjacent county to, a VSV quarantined facility. To legally move an equine animal from an affected county, the individually identified animal is to be examined by an USDA Accredited veterinarian, be declared free from lesions of VSV within 5 days prior to any travel within or through Arkansas, and be accompanied by a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) with the date of the veterinarian’s examination and an assigned Entry Permit number recorded on the CVI.

Detailed information about VSV movement restrictions and other VSV information can be found at the Arkansas Department of Agriculture website:

The full press release can be found here.
Arkansas Urban & Community Forestry Grants Open for Proposals through August 28th

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division is now accepting applications for the 2020 Urban & Community Forestry Grant program through August 28, 2020. 

Grants are available to fund community projects that develop, improve, and/or promote urban and community trees and forests. Complete grant details and an online application are available here or by emailing

The Forestry Division and the Grant Review Committee of the Arkansas Urban Forestry Council will rank grant proposals and award funds based on criteria that include: improvements to a community’s tree management program; proposed implementation plan for the project; level of community involvement; educational components; and tree care and long-term maintenance planning. Communities that participate in the Tree City USA, Tree Campus, and Tree Line programs will receive additional ranking points. 

Urban & Community Forestry Grants are funded through a $40,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture. The maximum federal cost share of any project is 50% of the total project expenditures and cannot exceed $12,000. The nonfederal match may be cash, services, or in-kind contributions. Projects must be completed by August 15, 2022.
Five Arkansas Communities Receive Water and Wastewater Project Funding

On July 15, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Commission approved $7,405,713 for water and wastewater projects serving more than 3,799 people in five Arkansas communities.

Project locations include the city of Jasper, Parkers Chapel Public Water Authority in Union County, the city of Warren, Washington County, and the city of Fifty-Six.

More information on these awards can be found here. More information about the Natural Resource Division’s water and wastewater programs can be found here.
USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Applications Close August 28

The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, or CFAP, provides vital financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a five-percent-or-greater price decline or who had losses due to market supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19 and face additional significant market costs.

Eligible commodities include:
  • Non-specialty Crops: malting barley, canola, corn, upland cotton, millet, oats, soybeans, sorghum, sunflowers, durum wheat, and hard red spring wheat
  • Wool
  • Livestock: cattle, hogs, and sheep
  • Dairy
  • Specialty Crops: fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc.

The deadline to apply is August 28, 2020.

Find more information here.

Additional details can be found in the Federal Register in the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) and Final Rule Correction and at
Scholarships Awarded to Arkansas College Students
Majoring in Agriculture

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture recently awarded $20,000 in scholarships to six students attending Arkansas universities with agricultural programs.

The scholarship recipients include the following students:

Arkansas State University
  • Austin Hampton, Bryant, AR; Plant and Soil Science Major
  • Jimmy Duvall, Jonesboro, AR; Plant and Soil Science Major

Southern Arkansas University
  • Emma Reed, Quitman, AR; Agriculture Education Major
  • Sherman Glass, Magnolia, AR; Agriculture Education Major

Arkansas Tech University
  • Dixie Sayger, Dover, AR; Agribusiness and Horticulture Major

University of Arkansas
  • Thomas “Max” McKeown, Wilmar, AR; Horticulture, Landscape and Turf Sciences Major

“The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is pleased to provide funding to help these deserving students further their education and prepare for potential careers in agriculture, our state’s largest industry,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture. “It is an exciting time to be involved in the agricultural industry and we wish the scholarship recipients all the best as they consider the many career options available in agriculture."

Funding for the scholarships comes from civil penalties collected by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. Each institution receives $5,000 annually and has its own process for selecting the scholarship recipients and the amounts awarded to each student.
Arkansas Volunteer Fire Departments Receive Wildfire Suppression Kits from
Arkansas Forestry Division
The Rural Fire Protection program, managed by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division, distributed 84 Wildfire Suppression Kits to rural volunteer fire departments this year. The Forestry Division received $272,000 from the United States Forest Service's Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant to purchase and distribute the kits that feature equipment and gear necessary for the safe suppression of wildfires.

A list of fire departments that received the kits in 2020 can be found here.

Since 2014, more than 375 volunteer fire departments in Arkansas have received Wildfire Suppression Kits through the Rural Fire Protection program. Kits distributed this year include lightweight wildfire-resistant coveralls and gloves, hand rakes, back-pack water pumps, and leaf blowers.

Fire Departments can expect to receive an application for next year’s program in the mail, or can find one online at when the application period opens in mid-August.
Farm to School Network Conversations available on YouTube

Past Network Conversations webinars hosted by Arkansas Farm to School are now available to watch for free on YouTube. The webinars cover a range of Farm to School program topics from starting a school garden to school meal programs.

Find the playlist of videos here.
Thank You for Attending

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture wants to thank everyone who attended our "Arkansas, the Natural Exporter" Webinar with Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA). The webinar focused on Arkansas exports and SUSTA's export programs.

If you missed it, you can watch a recording of the webinar here.

SUSTA is a non-profit organization that facilitates trade between small to medium-sized southern U.S. companies and overseas importers. SUSTA offers two core programs, Global Events and
50% CostShare. For more information on SUSTA, visit:
Weekly Market Summary

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture now publishes a 4-page condensed “Weekly Market Summary” that includes the following:

  • Arkansas Weekly Livestock Auction Summary and Related Individual Market Sale Summaries
  • National Weekly Rice Summary
  • Memphis Weekly Feed Report
  • Weekly Rice, Grain, Cotton, and Feed Futures Trends
  • Weekly Livestock and Milk Futures Trends
  • Bid Prices to Farmers
  • Arkansas Daily Grain Report
  • Heading Links for Historical Data

The summary will continue to evolve with timely and consolidated news, information, data, and charts. The summary is available on the Arkansas Department of Agriculture's Market Reports webpage, as well as on each Division's webpage and Facebook page, and you may sign-up to receive the summary by email at Subscribe To Notifications And Publications.
Arkansas Ag Heroes

Thank you to everyone who participated in our #ArkansasAgHero campaign on social media! It was inspiring to see the faces of the individuals and organizations that represent Arkansas agriculture. Enjoy this video of the photos submitted to our campaign.
Arkansas AgCast

Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation's July 30 AgCast features Plant Industries Division Director Scott Bray talking about the unsolicited packages of seeds being received by Arkansans.

Listen here.
Governor's Weekly Address

Governor Asa Hutchinson's Weekly Address on July 17 talked about the importance of the Arkansas timber industry.

In his comments, the Governor referred to State Forester Joe Fox whose family has served on the Arkansas Forestry Commission for three generations.

Weekly Address available here.

As we navigate through these unprecedented times, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture encourages Arkansans to support local, support each other, and support Arkansas agriculture. One way you can show your support is by joining our #WeARCovered campaign to show us how you are helping stop the spread of COVID-19.

Update your Facebook profile picture with a photo of yourself wearing a face mask and use our Facebook photo frame. When you go to upload a new photo, select "add frame" and then search the frames for "WeARCovered." Add the frame, tag the Department in your photo, and we'll share it!
COVID-19 Resources

The Department has produced numerous shareable and printable COVID-19 resources. We invite and encourage use of all resources which can be found on our COVID-19 Resource page, including:

Department COVID-19 resources can also be found on our social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
New Facebook Pages

In addition to the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, Forestry Division, and Natural Resources Division Facebook presence, Facebook pages have been established for the Plant Industries Division and Livestock and Poultry Division. Be sure to follow and like all of our pages for the latest updates and announcements.

Arkansas Grown School Garden Contest 2020

School entries are being accepted for the seventh annual Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest sponsored by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas. Applicants may be any Arkansas school, grades pre-K through 12, that had a school garden open during the 2019-2020 school year, or any school planning to start a garden in the 2020-2021 school year.

The contest runs through Sunday, September 13, 2020. Online entry forms and program requirements are available at Winners will be announced at the Farm to School Celebration in October.
New Video Featuring Apple Seeds Inc. in Fayetteville

Apple Seeds Inc. is a non-profit organization that creates programs that educate young students about healthy food and increases their access to those foods. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple Seeds has been donating the majority of their food to local food pantries, schools, and community centers to help those who have found themselves food insecure. As of July 2020, they have donated 2,038 pounds of food to the Northwest Arkansas area.
Arkansas Agriculture Thank You Video Series

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture would like to thank everyone who has a part in supporting Arkansas agriculture and our food supply chain. We created two videos to show our appreciation to the people of Arkansas. Arkansans always rise to the challenge, and we are proud to represent and support Arkansas agriculture.
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Arkansas Ag Fact: Farmers Markets

  • Arkansas Farmers Market Week is August 2-8.
  • There are more than 111 known farmers markets in Arkansas.
  • More than 80-percent of Arkansas counties have at least one Farmers Market.
  • Direct-to-consumer sales in Arkansas from Farmers Markets and other direct marketing channels used by farmers are valued at more than $9.2 million.
  • Three out of four farmers who sell at farmers markets use practices that meet or exceed organic standards.
  • Farmers pocket upwards of 90 cents for each dollar of sales at a local market.
  • Take a look at this video highlighting Arkansas farmers markets' use of COVID-19 precautions.