Agricultural Organizations and Programs

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Entry Category: Agricultural Organizations and Programs

Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station (AAES)

The Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station (AAES) is the statewide research component of the University of Arkansas System’s Division of Agriculture. Its faculty researchers are assigned to campuses across the state. The AAES itself consists of five research and extension centers (RECs) and six research stations strategically located around Arkansas. In 1888, a year after Congress approved the Hatch Act to support university-based agricultural experiment stations in each state, the Arkansas General Assembly accepted the federal government’s financial support to establish the AAES at the university’s campus in Fayetteville (Washington County). Albert E. Menke, a chemistry professor, took office as station director with a staff consisting of a botanist, two chemists, a biologist, an entomologist, a horticulturist, and a veterinarian. Their …

Arkansas Agriculture Department (AAD)

The Arkansas Agriculture Department (AAD) is an amalgam of various agriculture-related state agencies established as a central office for “creating, publicizing, and sustaining an information network for Arkansas farmers and ranchers,” as well as promoting state agricultural products to the nation and world. Despite being a major agricultural state, Arkansas was one of two states without an agricultural department prior to 2005; the other was Rhode Island. The AAD was created by Act 1978 of 2005, which brought together the Arkansas Forestry Commission, the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission, and the Arkansas State Plant Board—all long-standing agencies that had been operating for decades by that time. The livestock and poultry commission was created by Act 87 of 1963. It is …

Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation

The Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation (AFB) is a private agricultural advocacy group composed of more than 230,000 families working to improve farm and rural life throughout the state. Arkansas was the thirty-ninth state to join the American Farm Bureau. Each county has its own chapter that operates autonomously from the state organization. The AFB was incorporated on April 28, 1931, with James Feagin Tompkins as the first president. In 1935, the organization began with sixty-five members from Mississippi County, and by the end of 1936, the group boasted 8,657 members across the state. Early leaders of the Arkansas movement cited several reasons why the state needed a strong federation of farmers, such as fighting for farmers’ rights on the state …

Arkansas Farm Family of the Year Program

The Arkansas Farm Family of the Year program was started in 1947 to recognize the importance of the farm family and agriculture in the continuing development of the state. It is the longest-running farm family recognition program in the country. The primary emphasis of the program is recognizing county farm families and the importance of agriculture in the county. The specific objectives of the program are, first, to recognize and encourage farm families who are doing an outstanding job in farming, homemaking, and community leadership; second, to highlight the importance of agriculture to the economy of the community and the state; and third, to disseminate information on improved farm practices and effective farm and home management. The selection of district …

Arkansas Farmers Union

aka: Arkansas Farmers Educational Cooperative Union
The Arkansas iteration of the Farmers Union—founded as the Farmers Educational Cooperative Union of America—took root in Spring Hill (Hempstead County) in 1903, one year after the national organization’s founding in Point, Texas. Its populism mirrored earlier farmers’ movements, including the Farmers’ Alliance and the Agricultural Wheel. Focused on those who actually produced food and fiber, the union was often at odds with banks, commodity exchanges, processers, and shippers. As larger corporate farms emerged, the union aspired to speak for “family farmers,” a goal it continues to embrace in the twenty-first century. By 1907, the union’s Arkansas state convention reported 718 locals and 78,085 members. That number probably included lapsed members, as Secretary-Treasurer Ben Griffin reported no more than 42,039 dues-paying …

Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center

The Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center is located on 2,214 acres in Booneville (Logan County). The center, part of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), conducts research to develop innovative strategies and technologies for small and medium-size forage/livestock/agroforestry farms in order to conserve natural resources and improve economic viability and environmental quality. Research focuses on strategies for increasing profitability of small farms by reducing parasite load and enhancing the genetics of small ruminants; developing foraging plans for livestock, including organic production systems; and integrating agroforestry systems and sustainable manure management practices. The center employs more than thirty people—including scientists, research specialists, and students—and cooperates with partners throughout the United States. The center was …

Home Demonstration Clubs

Home demonstration clubs were an integral part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service, which was established during the early twentieth century as an experiment in adult education, providing agricultural demonstration work for men and home demonstration work for women. The home demonstration work taught farm women improved methods for accomplishing their household responsibilities and encouraged them to better their families’ living conditions through home improvements and labor-saving devices. Beyond just the realm of the individual family, the clubs also became sources of education and charity in communities. On January 1, 1912, Emma Archer organized the first canning club work for girls in Mabelvale (Pulaski County). In 1916, Archer became Arkansas’s first state home demonstration agent. As such, she …

Military Farm Colonies (Arkansas Delta)

As the Federal army moved across Arkansas during the Civil War, thousands of newly freed slaves attached themselves to military units and eventually began to amass in Union strongholds. Helena (Phillips County) and Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) were just two of the towns where Union commanders struggled to provide for this massive influx of refugees. As more freedmen arrived at Helena after it fell to Union forces in 1862, military officers worked to alleviate the strain these civilians put on the supply lines. Eventually, a program that saw some success in Tennessee and Mississippi was adopted by the commanders at Helena. Realizing that the freedmen were an untapped source of labor, Union officers east of the Mississippi River leased abandoned …

Military Farm Colonies (Northwestern Arkansas)

During the Civil War, thousands of Arkansas civilians became displaced and relied on either the Federal or Confederate governments to provide basic necessities. These non-combatants strained military resources, and commanders searched for ways to make these refugees self-sufficient. With many Unionist families in northwestern Arkansas, Federal commanders created a program that allowed groups to grow subsistence crops and work together to provide mutual self-defense from enemy units. The colonies in northwestern Arkansas were established around the families of white Unionists, while other colonies in central and eastern Arkansas were populated by freedmen and their families. By the spring of 1864, years of war had taken a toll on the agricultural output of northwestern Arkansas, and thousands of people were forced …

Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie

The Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie in Stuttgart (Arkansas County)—also known as the Stuttgart Agricultural Museum and the Arkansas County Museum—was formed in 1974 by two lifelong Arkansas County residents, Bennie Burkett and Jack Crum, in order to preserve Arkansas County’s heritage as a center for rice production and duck hunting. The museum is funded partly by quarterly donations from the city but mostly by yearly contributions from “the donor club.” Its board of trustees is appointed by the city council. The construction of the museum began after a nonprofit group of interested citizens raised funds to build a 1,500-square-foot building on the property of the city park. It was finished in 1974. Through the years, four additions have …

Ozark Institute [Organization]

From 1976 until its end in 1983, the Ozark Institute (OI) created job programs, provided advocacy for a dwindling population of small farmers, and worked to create community organizations and institutions to help alleviate some of the hardships of rural life. Toward these aims, the OI partnered with the Office of Human Concern in Benton County, led by Bill Brown, a longtime resident of Eureka Springs (Carroll County). The OI created a host of entities and programs to aid the Ozarks region in its short life, including community canneries, the publication Uncertain Harvest, seed banks, job training programs, and the Eureka Springs radio station KESP. The roots of the OI can be traced to the Conference on Ozark In-Migration in …

Plum Bayou Project

The Plum Bayou Project was part of a New Deal plan designed to help rural residents receive federal relief and assistance during the economic crisis of the 1930s. Located approximately seventeen miles north of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), Plum Bayou was one of several similar communities built in the Arkansas Delta. During the Great Depression, the federal Resettlement Administration—later the Farm Security Administration (FSA)—experimented with programs designed to give assistance to rural farm families. Rexford G. Tugwell, head of the Resettlement Administration, believed that sending farmers into the cities with no job prospects was an untenable situation and certainly no answer to the farmers’ desperate plight. Instead, he focused on developing resettlement projects designed to move farmers barely surviving on …

University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service (UACES)

The University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service (UACES), an arm of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, offers non-traditional education, bringing university research to Arkansans to help improve their lives. The UACES disseminates information on agricultural production, protection of natural resources, family and consumer sciences, 4-H youth development, rural community development, and public issues education. With offices in every county, the UACES provides easy access to information that has practical and immediate application. The UACES state headquarters is in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on land that borders the campus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR). Three federal legislative acts, passed during the mid- to late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, created the national Agricultural Extension Service …

University of Arkansas Rice Research and Extension Center

The University of Arkansas Rice Research and Extension Center (RREC), one of five research and extension centers in the University of Arkansas System’s statewide Division of Agriculture, is one of the best known and oldest rice research centers in the world. Arkansas produces almost half the rice grown in the United States, and the center has played a vital role in the success of the Arkansas rice industry. RREC is located nine miles east of Stuttgart (Arkansas County) on Highway 130. Originally called the Rice Branch Station, it was authorized by the Arkansas General Assembly in 1923, and work commenced on it in December 1926. The University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) made an earlier attempt at establishing a …