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State agency to again recognize 100-year-old farming operations

by Andrew Moreau | March 1, 2020 at 7:55 a.m.

Farming in Arkansas can be traced back nearly 3,000 years to when folks living in the Crowley's Ridge region began growing food to supplement the game they hunted in area forests. Crops and wild game were about providing for family, which is still a foundation of farming efforts in the state.

Statistics show that 97% of the more than 42,500 farms in the state are family owned.

To recognize farm families and their continued contributions, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture is again highlighting families who have owned and farmed the same land for at least 100 years.

The program gives 100-year-old farms materials and support to market their contributions to the state.

Farms that qualify must demonstrate land ownership stemming from the original settler or buyer. That may be extended through children, grandchildren, siblings, and nephews or nieces, including through marriage and adoption. The farm must be at least 10 acres of the original land acquisition and make a financial contribution to the overall farm income.

"Arkansas Century Farm families have persevered challenges for at least 10 decades and have contributed greatly in making Arkansas agriculture the success story that it is today," said Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward.

Farming remains Arkansas' largest industry with an economic impact of more than $21 billion annually, including providing one of every six jobs in the state. Today, 14.5 million acres in Arkansas are workable farmland, nurturing a diversity of crops and livestock production.

Rice is the state's leading agricultural product, and Arkansas ranks first in the nation and grows about 50% of the rice consumed in the U.S.

Cotton, a staple from the beginning, remains important in Arkansas, and the state ranks third in the nation in cotton production, delivering 7% of the U.S. crop, according to the Arkansas Farm Bureau.

Farmers also dip into aquaculture, with about 11,000 acres in the state devoted to catfish production.

Anyone interested in becoming a Century Farm family can apply through the Agriculture Department by May 31. More information and applications are available at aad.arkansas.gov.

COMING TO TOWN

Georgia-Pacific President and Chief Executive Officer Christian Fischer will headline the Arkansas Economic Development Foundation Luncheon on April 21 in Little Rock.

"Georgia-Pacific is an important partner in our state's timber industry," foundation President Gus Vratsinas said in announcing the keynote speaker. "We look forward to hearing Mr. Fischer share his vision for the company's future and appreciate G-P for recognizing the major role the foundation plays in our economic development efforts."

The company, based in Atlanta and owned by Koch Industries, is a substantial contributor to the Arkansas economy and has been for decades.

Georgia-Pacific is one of the world's largest manufacturers and distributors of paper, building products and related chemicals. The company operates plants in Fort Smith, Gurdon, Fordyce and Crossett, and has 1,845 employees in the state. The manufacturing company estimates its total economic impact in Arkansas at $430 million when including direct and indirect jobs created along with associated pay and benefits.

Last year, the company said it was investing $70 million in its Arkansas facilities. At the same time, the company cut 655 jobs in Crossett and Hope because of reduced demand for products produced there.

Fischer was named president and CEO of Georgia-Pacific in March 2017 after serving in a variety of roles for more than 30 years. Georgia-Pacific makes products including Dixie cups, Brawny paper towels and Quilted Northern bathroom tissue.

Georgia-Pacific's operations in Arkansas date back more than 50 years to the early 1960s when the company purchased the Crossett Lumber Co. and then the Fordyce Lumber Co. in 1963. It was the first company to manufacture plywood made from Southern Pine trees. Though manufacturing outputs have changed, the company still operates both plants.

The foundation luncheon will be from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. Tickets are $300 each or $2,500 for a table of 10.

ENVIRONMENTAL SAFETY

The Arkansas Environmental Federation is holding a safety and health seminar in Little Rock on March 12. The event is from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. at corporate offices of the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp.

The nonprofit organization is supported by industries across Arkansas and serves as the voice for businesses on environmental issues. The federation's safety and health committee, which is heading the seminar, guides the foundation on workplace safety and health issues, and monitors federal regulations.

Sessions at the seminar include promoting new safety products and an update on environmental regulations. Registration is $130 for members and $155 for others. More information is available at environmentark.org.

Coming seminars will focus on land and sustainability on April 22, water issues on April 23 and air quality on May 7.

EXPORT ADVICE

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission is working with partners to sponsor three sessions to help state businesses increase their exports. ExporTech Spring 2020 combines group workshops with individual coaching to help participating companies develop export plans in 12 weeks.

Sessions will be held March 11, April 15 and June 3 in Little Rock.

State economic development officials are working with FedEx, the Arkansas World Trade Center in Rogers and the U.S. Export Assistance Center, and will provide services through the U.S. Department of Commerce's Gold Key program. That program is a vital tool to help businesses find and network with distribution partners in foreign countries.

The program costs $1,750 and allows two participants per company. Opportunities for reimbursement are available for participants who have their strategic marketing plan reviewed. In addition, FedEx is providing $750 toward the cost of the Gold Key program.

Ideal participants are executives of small- and midsize product companies involved in marketing and logistics management who play key roles in exports for their businesses.

The workshops help companies strengthen their go-to-market strategies and their export growth plans. Participants will learn how to accelerate getting products to market, build robust export strategies and develop sales leads.

SundayMonday Business on 03/01/2020

Print Headline: State agency to again recognize 100-year-old farming operations

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