Entry Category: Agriculture

Agricultural Adjustment Act

The experimental Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) was the cornerstone farm legislation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal agenda and was steered through the U.S. Senate by Joe T. Robinson, Arkansas’s senior senator. In Arkansas, farm landowners reaped subsidy benefits from the measure through decreased cotton production. Arkansas sharecroppers and tenant farmers did not fare as well, bringing about the establishment of the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union (STFU). Upon taking office in 1933—during the fourth year of the Great Depression, on the heels of the Drought of 1930–1931, and amid the full force of the Dust Bowl—Roosevelt promised “a new deal for the American people” centered on “relief, recovery, and reform.” Counseled by advisors dubbed the “brain trust,” Roosevelt fashioned …

Agricultural Wheel

The Agricultural Wheel was a state farmers’ union, founded in the Arkansas Delta, which expanded into ten other states, mostly in the South but reaching as far north as Wisconsin. Although the Agricultural Wheel was short-lived as an independent farmers’ union, it influenced the future formation of other such unions in Arkansas and led, in part, to the rise of the Populist movement in the state. After the Civil War, Arkansas (and Southern) farmers returned to growing primarily cotton, in part because bankers had insisted on farmers raising a cash crop as a condition for providing them with financing. Cotton acreage therefore increased, but prices fell due to overproduction, leading farmers to compensate by planting yet more cotton, which led …

Agriculture

Agriculture has played a major role in Arkansas’s culture from territorial times, when farmers made up more than ninety percent of the population, through the present (about forty-five percent of the state’s residents were still classified as rural in the early part of the twenty-first century). Beginning as a region populated by small, self-sufficient landowners, the state evolved through a plantation culture before the Civil War, to an era when tenant farming and sharecropping dominated from the Civil War to World War II, before yielding to technology and commercial enterprise. For more than 150 years, agricultural practices had hardly changed. Hand tools and draft animals limited an average farmer to cultivating about four acres a day and made it difficult …

American Wine Society – Arkansas Chapter

The American Wine Society–Arkansas Chapter was a non-profit organization dedicated to the dissemination of knowledge about—and the cultivation of an appreciation of—wine and its role in culture and cuisine. The American Wine Society–Arkansas Chapter was co-founded on May 16, 2005, by Robert G. Cowie and Mary Jane Cains in Ozark (Franklin County). Cowie is the founder and owner of Cowie Wine Cellars in Paris (Logan County), while Cains is from the family of the Mount Bethel Winery of Altus (Franklin County). When the national society was created in 1967, Al Wiederkehr of Wiederkehr Wine Cellars in Altus was a member of the organizing meeting. He and Justin Morris of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) were honorary …

Anthony Timberlands, Inc.

Formed by John Ed Anthony in 1974, Anthony Timberlands, Inc. (ATI) operates five mills in southern Arkansas and also provides consulting services to private timberland owners and management services to other private companies. ATI’s operating principles derive from the knowledge and experience of various branches of the Anthony family during the twentieth century. The Anthony family first settled in southern Arkansas in the 1840s. In 1907, Garland Anthony started a small sawmill near Bearden (Ouachita County). Other members of the family, along with outside partners, started similar operations in southern Arkansas, eastern Texas, and northern Louisiana. Between 1910 and 1930, Garland and his brothers Frank, William, and Oliver formed Anthony Brothers Lumber and built their first permanent mill in Hopeville …

Apple Industry

Seventy-five years after their introduction in Arkansas, apples became a dominant agricultural crop and an economic engine for the northwest part of the state. However, their importance declined measurably in the last half of the twentieth century. The apple of commerce, Malus domestica, is not native to North America. It is a complex hybrid of Malus species with origins in Asia and Europe. Malus domestica was introduced to North America by sixteenth-century explorers and later by colonists. Settlers arriving in Arkansas from Tennessee, the Carolinas, and Georgia brought apple seeds and scion wood with them. The Arkansas Gazette reported in 1822 that apples were being grown on the farm of James Sevier Conway west of Little Rock (Pulaski County). While …

Aquaculture

Aquaculture—the farming of aquatic plants and animals—includes private sector, commercial fish farms, state and federal hatcheries that produce fish to stock public waters, and farm pond owners who stock ponds for recreational fishing. Overall sales place aquaculture in the top ten agricultural industries in the state. Arkansas is the birthplace of warmwater aquaculture in the United States. The first commercial fish farms were built in Arkansas in the 1940s to raise goldfish. The industry in Arkansas has diversified into production of more than twenty species of fish and crustaceans. These species supply food-fish markets, recreational fishing markets and waters, retail pet markets, gardening supply markets, and markets for aquatic weed and snail control. Arkansas ranks second in aquaculture-producing states. It …

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 Black Apple

The Arkansas Black Apple is recognized by early sources as having been first produced in 1870 in the orchard of a Mr. Brathwaite, which was then about one and a half miles northwest of Bentonville (Benton County). The fruit, a variety of Winesap, is usually round and of medium size. The flesh is yellow, fine grained, crisp, juicy, and aromatic, while the skin is dark red to black, hence its name. It ripens in October or November, and the fruit keeps well though the storage season of two to four months. Originally, the tree was thought to be a seedling of the Winesap Apple. It is a true native apple grown in the Ozarks of both Arkansas and Missouri. There …

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 …

Arkansas Forestry Association

The Arkansas Forestry Association (AFA) is a private association of firms and individuals in the forestry industry. The focus of the association is on those who grow trees, both corporate and individual growers. The corporate growers may be integrated both upstream (a business term meaning closer to the point of manufacture or production than to the point sale) and downstream (meaning closer to the point of sale). Downstream is most common as the corporate growers are often wood processors or paper makers. Some corporate growers are integrated upstream, providing such things as management services, herbicides, insecticides, fertilizers, seedling trees, and logging machinery. The Arkansas Forestry Association Education Foundation, Inc. (AFAEF) is part of the private Arkansas Forestry Association. The primary …

Arkansas Forestry Commission

The Arkansas Forestry Commission (AFC) was established by Act 234 of 1931 and amended by Act 48 of 1939. Its initial responsibilities included fire control, education in fire safety, and forest management. Its activities have expanded to include oversight of rural and volunteer fire departments, disaster response, assistance with private land management, tree seedling nurseries and genetics, educational programs for the Arkansas public schools, urban forestry, and participation in events such as Arbor Day and Earth Day throughout the state. As of 2011, the Arkansas Forestry Commission has nine district offices statewide and smaller offices in almost every county in Arkansas. With the passage of Act 1978 of 2005, the Arkansas Forestry Commission was combined with the Arkansas State Plant …

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission State Fish Hatcheries

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission State Fish Hatcheries were built between 1928 and 1940 for spawning and culturing game fish to manage fish populations in natural lakes, rivers, and streams and for stocking lakes built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. A surge of lake construction began in 1944 with the Corps’ Norfork Lake project in Baxter County, followed by the Game and Fish Commission’s 6,700-acre Lake Conway in Faulkner County. More than thirty Game and Fish Commission lakes were constructed in the next forty years. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission now operates four warm-water fish hatcheries, and one cold-water hatchery, which produce millions of fish each year for stocking …

Arkansas Historic Wine Museum

The Arkansas Historic Wine Museum in Paris (Logan County) is the only museum in the United States dedicated to preserving the wine heritage of an entire state. The museum stores and displays artifacts from the earliest days of the Arkansas wine industry up to the present. Formally incorporated in 1994 (though it had been established by Robert G. Cowie, owner of Cowie Wine Cellars, in 1967 as a hobby), this institution has received numerous awards, including the Bootstrap Award from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, which is presented to those institutions that make great achievements on a limited budget. The museum has also been featured in American Profile magazine. Cowie started collecting artifacts of regional winemaking in 1957 …

Arkansas Livestock Show Association

The Arkansas Livestock Show Association (ASLA) is the umbrella organization that owns much of the Arkansas State Fair Complex, produces the annual Arkansas State Fair and Livestock Show, and oversees numerous events and activities year round at the fairgrounds on Roosevelt Road in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The Arkansas Livestock Show Association has its roots in the Great Depression and its aftermath. By the mid-1930s, Arkansas was still feeling the effects of the Depression, and its economy was in shambles. The state’s only money crop—cotton—was in decline, and farmers were in trouble. In 1937, the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service (UACES) conducted a study of the state’s resources and concluded that raising livestock would be profitable in the state. A …

Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board

Arkansas ranks in the top ten of U.S. states for soybean production. Products made from soybeans can be found in almost every aisle of the supermarket and even in most hardware stores. Soybeans, sometimes called “miracle beans,” deliver essential nutrients and high-quality protein to people and farm animals. The Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board was established to support this important industry in the state. Act 259 of the 1971 Arkansas General Assembly established the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board to provide producers in the state with an organization that works to improve the soybean industry. The board consists of nine unpaid soybean producers nominated by various agricultural organizations within Arkansas (including the Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Arkansas Soybean Association, the Agricultural Council …

Arkansas State Horticultural Society (ASHS)

The Arkansas State Horticultural Society (ASHS) is a horticultural crop producers’ organization whose primary purpose is to provide its members, through annual meetings, with information to enhance their horticultural enterprises. The Arkansas State Horticultural Society was formally organized on May 24, 1879, by nineteen men meeting in the council chamber of the city of Little Rock (Pulaski County). The organizers were engaged in horticultural pursuits and were aware of a growing interest in horticultural crops being grown on lands adjacent to the land-grant railroads then expanding through Arkansas. News of the May 24 meeting was published in area papers, extending an invitation for all interested to attend. The object of the society is “to collect and disseminate information relative to …

Bachman, Joseph

Joseph Bachman is widely recognized as Arkansas’s leading developer of grape varieties. During his career, he received national and international attention for his development of grape vines, winning several awards and supplying cuttings and plants to numerous nurseries. Joseph Bachman was born in 1853 in Lucerne, Switzerland. Little is known about his childhood, including his family, education, and early career. According to immigration records, Bachman arrived in New York on May 9, 1878, on a ship that had departed Le Havre, France, earlier that year. By 1881, following the advice of his relatives, Bachman had settled in the town of Altus (Franklin County), where many of his other countrymen resided. He held a wide array of occupations, serving as the …

Baitfish Industry

Arkansas leads the nation in the farming of bait and feeder fish, providing sixty-one percent of the value of all cultured baitfish in the country. Baitfish are small minnows used as fishing bait to catch predatory game fish such as crappie, catfish, walleye, and largemouth bass. Feeder fish are small fish sold as live food for fish and animals in aquariums and zoos. Six billion bait minnows—predominantly golden shiners, fathead minnows, and goldfish—are raised in Arkansas each year and shipped throughout the country. In 1998, the Census of Aquaculture recorded sixty-two baitfish farms in Arkansas. The annual farm-gate value of Arkansas baitfish production was $23 million; with an economic impact of six to seven times this amount, baitfish production contributes …

Beef Industry

aka: Cattle Industry
The raising of beef cattle has been carried out in Arkansas since before the area became an American territory. Though not as prominent as the state’s poultry industry, the beef industry has an estimated $1.4 billion annual economic impact upon Arkansas. Undomesticated bison were present in Arkansas before the arrival of European explorers and settlers. Both the expedition of Hernando de Soto and the Marquette-Joliet expedition reported the presence of these animals. Frenchmen in the area of Arkansas Post judged the land fit for raising cattle, and a general census of Arkansas Post in 1749 lists sixty cows among the livestock kept there. Early Anglo-American settlers brought cattle with them, as did the Cherokee, who began moving to Arkansas in …

Beekeeping

As of 2010, more than 1,500 Arkansas beekeepers have registered with the Arkansas State Plant Board, the vast majority of whom are hobbyists. Hobbyist beekeepers maintain fewer than five hives and do not rely upon beekeeping as their primary source of income. An estimated twenty-five to thirty commercial beekeepers operate in the state. The two types of beekeepers collectively manage more than 50,000 colonies, making Arkansas a significant national producer of honey. Commercial apiaries in Arkansas vary in size. Some commercial apiaries include Coy’s Honey Farm in Brookland (Craighead County), which is one of the largest; Clyde Gray in Jonesboro (Craighead County), who has hives from Jonesboro to Wynne (Cross County); Culp’s Honey Farm in Jonesboro (Craighead County); Richard’s Apiaries …

Carpenter’s Produce

Carpenter’s Produce is an agricultural enterprise based in Grady (Lincoln County) that supplies produce for both regional farmers’ markets and national grocery chains such as Walmart and Kroger. The Carpenter family has long been an important symbol of African-American success in the field of agriculture, especially in a time and place when many independent black farmers faced monumental difficulties in remaining solvent. Carpenter’s Produce was established by Abraham Carpenter Sr. and his wife, Katie. In 1969, Katie Carpenter planted a one-acre vegetable garden and began selling her produce locally. At the time, Abraham Carpenter, then almost forty years old, was working at Seagram’s Lumber Mill in nearby Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). Using some of his earnings, he purchased thirty additional …

Catfish Industry

aka: Ictalurus punctatus
The catfish industry is the largest component of aquaculture in the United States and a significant industry in Arkansas. Arkansas is the birthplace of the commercial catfish industry, with at least two farms selling catfish in the late 1950s. Arkansas farmers began to replace buffalofish (Ictiobus spp.) with catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) in the 1960s. By 1966, Arkansas had 4,500 acres in catfish production and three processing plants. However, increases in the price of fishmeal (an ingredient used in making fish feeds), an economic recession, and the lack of year-round production technology resulted in an industry downturn in the mid-1970s. Multiple-batch production technologies developed in the 1980s allowed for year-round supplies to processing plants. Catfish are raised in ten- to twenty-acre earthen ponds. …

Cattle Drives

Arkansas was the source for many cattle drives westward following the California gold rush, and some later cattle drives cut through Arkansas for points northward. Though a more minor player in the overland transportation of cattle than neighboring Texas, Arkansas was nonetheless significantly affected by these cattle drives. When some Cherokee migrated into Arkansas in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, they drove cattle with them. However, the first major cattle drives organized in Arkansas took place following the discovery of gold in California in 1848, when many Arkansans drove their cattle west in order to meet the increasing need for supplies of the numerous people settling there. As historian J. H. Atkinson notes, “A cow that sold for …

Caviar

Arkansas caviar, which is distributed nationally, consists of eggs from certain freshwater fish caught in the state’s rivers. The commercial fishermen who supply the product to wholesalers generally obtain the eggs from the Arkansas, Mississippi, White, Cache, and St. Francis rivers in eastern Arkansas from late November until early April. The eggs come from paddlefish (commonly referred to in the Arkansas Delta as spoonbill catfish), shovelnose sturgeon, and bowfin. Armenian brothers Melkoum and Mouchegh Petrossian often are credited with popularizing caviar in Paris, France, in the 1920s and spurring a worldwide interest in the product. Paddlefish eggs make up the majority of the Arkansas caviar that is harvested. Paddlefish can be distinguished by their large mouths and elongated snouts, called the rostrum. …