- Statistics and State Resources
- Certified Organic Operations in Arkansas
- Organic Producer Profiles
- Arkansas Farm Characteristics
Arkansas Organic Statistics
According to the USDA 2004 agricultural census (www.nass.usda.gov), Arkansas had 47,500 farms (14,400,000 acres), with an average size of 303 acres. Of that, only about 1% is in organic crop production; nevertheless, Arkansas has seen significant growth in certified organic production in recent years.
According to United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Services, Arkansas had only 997 acres of organically certified crops in 1997.(USDA/ERS, 2002. Organic production. www.ers.usda.gov/Data/organic/) The acreage of certified organic cropland has increased steadily since then to around 8,700 acres in 2003. This represents a 1294% increase in certified organic croplands from 1997 to 2002.
Sixty-three percent of all certified organic acreage in Arkansas is in grain production. Brown and white rice comprise the largest percentage, with 11,509 acres (46.44% of total organic production). The second largest segment of organic crop production is soybeans, with 8,138 acres reported (33%). Production of mixed vegetables follows, with 513 acres (2.3%), fruits (1%), and herbs (0.4%.). The remaining organic production was reported to be from hay, pastures, and other crops.
Organic production in Arkansas is scattered throughout the state, paralleling conventional agricultural production patterns. The northern part of the state’s organic production focuses on mixed vegetables, herbs, and fruit. The central and eastern parts of the state produce organic soybeans, rice, and wheat in rotational grain systems.
- The Arkansas State Legislature passed a bill in 2005 to establish a
Department of Agriculture. Currently (up to 2005), the Arkansas
State Plant Board is responsible for activities associated with the
certification and marketing of organic products in this state.
Accredited certifying agent. The State of Arkansas does not operate
as a National Organic Program (USDA-NOP) accredited certification
USDA-NOP Certification Cost Share Program. The Arkansas State Plant Board disburses the monies from this program to certified operations in their state. The monies cover 75% of certification costs, with a maximum of $500 per certificate. Originally, Arkansas was allocated $30,000 to disburse to its organic producers and handlers. According to Tim Ellison, Program Coordinator for the Certification Cost Share Program, there is (as of 2005) approximately $4,000 left in the fund available for disbursement.
Tim Ellison, Arkansas State Plant Board
Farmers’ Markets. The Arkansas Agriculture Product Market was developed by the Arkansas State Plant Board to help potential buyers locate Arkansas producers, including organic producers. Residents of Arkansas who produce an agricultural product in the state may, at no charge, list their marketing information on the State Plant Board Web site, Naturally Arkansas. Naturally Arkansas has a list of farmer’s markets, U-pick farms, retail vendors, and other information about agricultural production within the state. For contact information about Arkansas products, or for other information, see www.naturallyarkansas.org.
- University of Arkansas faculty with organic research and education
experience: Dr. Curt Rom, professor, Horticulture, is heading
efforts to develop an Ecological Agricultural Center at the
University of Arkansas. This program seeks to develop research and
outreach programs, and a University of Arkansas academic major or
minor, that focus on sustainable and organic agriculture. Dr. Rom is
currently coordinating a SSARE-funded Research and Extension Program
grant titled “Best Management Practices for Organic Orchard
Heather Friedrich is the Ecological Agriculture Center coordinator.
Dr. Donn Johnson, professor, Entomology. Dr. Johnson is heading efforts with Gerber Products Company to evaluate organic and other alternative pest management practices in tree fruits, and collaborating with Curt Rom, Jennie Popp, Barbara Bellows, and Heather Friedrich on a Southern Region IPM Center Grant titled “Development of Southern Region IPM Organic Tree Fruit Working Group” that organized in-state focus groups and regional discussion meetings involving producers, support industry, research, and Extension personnel. Participants identified obstacles and information gaps in organic tree fruit production in the South, in order to prioritize future research and Extension activities.
Dr. Jennie Popp, associate professor, Agricultural Economics and Business, and collaborator with the Ecological Agricultural Center
Dr. Mary Savin, assistant professor, Crop Soils and Environmental Sciences and collaborator with the Ecological Agricultural Center
Dr. Larry Purcell, Professor, Crops, Soils, and Environmental Sciences, teaches an undergraduate level course in organic agriculture.
University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service
Little Rock, Arkansas
Arkansas Cooperative Extension specialists familiar with organic practices:
Dr. Craig Anderson, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Dr. Elena Garcia, Extension Tree Fruit Specialist
Dr. Ron Rainey, Agricultural Economics and Community
Janet Carson, Extension Horticulture Specialist
Arkansas Cooperative Extension Agents familiar with organic practices:
Kevin Lawson—Perry County
Sherri Wesson—White County
Dustin Blakey—Sebastian County
Jack Boles—Newton County
Arkansas – Oklahoma Horticulture Industries Show is an annual bi-state conference and trade show for horticultural growers. Drawing up to 400 people, this conference is held alternately in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Ft. Smith, Arkansas. Regular session topics include fruits, vegetables, grapes, Christmas trees, herbs, sustainable agriculture, and farmers’ markets. The sustainable agriculture session includes talks on organics and has been a regular feature of HIS since the late 1980s.
Ray Campbell, Secretary
OSU Horticulture and Landscape Architecture
360 Agricultural Hall
Stillwater, OK 74078-6027