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By Ryan McGeeney U of A System Division of AgricultureJan. 26, 2018
(790 words) (Newsrooms: With additional art at https://flic.kr/p/23Mte4n, https://flic.kr/p/23Mte1X and https://flic.kr/p/FDvmPS)(Download this story in MS Word format here.)
LITTLE ROCK – Extension, research, and the land grant system as a whole are essential
to keeping U.S. agriculture competitive globally, U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue told
members of an industry roundtable gathered at the Governor’s Mansion.
“He gave a huge shout out to extension and research and the land grant mission,” said
Vic Ford, associate director-Agriculture and Natural Resources. “If other industries
had the research and extension backing like agriculture, they would be as competitive
on a global market as agriculture. The key is integrating research findings with
educational programs that make a difference in peoples’ lives.”
The land grant system dates back to Abraham Lincoln, who saw the system as essential
to disseminating new technologies to rural areas. As governor of Georgia, Perdue was
an ardent supporter of land grant universities. The U of A System Division of Agriculture
delivers the research and extension land grant mission in Arkansas.
Perdue visited central Arkansas last week, meeting with elected officials and agriculture
industry professionals at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion, as well as visiting a nearby
farm near England, Arkansas.
The visit began with the roundtable, as Perdue, flanked by Gov. Asa Hutchinson and
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, fielded questions and concerns from about
a dozen farmers, conservation district representatives, and other agricultural industry
Perdue said he was employing an approach of “listen more, talk less” during each of
his visits to a series of agricultural states including Arkansas.
Abraham Carpenter, owner of Carpenter’s Produce Farm near Grady, Arkansas, began the
roundtable discussion, urging Perdue to help raise the limit on certain operating
and ownership loans available to farmers through the U.S. Department of Agriculture,
which are currently capped at $300,000.
“That’s been the limit for about 20 years,” Carpenter said. “As you know, the cost
of production has doubled, tripled, maybe even quadrupled. I’d ask that you consider
raising that to $600,000, and I think that would probably be adequate for all our
Carpenter also voiced concerns that the USDA may be reducing services available to
farmers under the Trump administration by reducing the number of positions and outposts
at the National Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency and other federal
Perdue said streamlining efforts within the USDA, announced in May of 2017, would
not reduce services available to farmers.
“What we’re doing is simply co-locating many of those services,” Perdue said, explaining
that some NRCS or FSA offices in shared regions may relocate to shared locations.
Perdue said his philosophy toward modernizing the USDA, and the various agencies that
fall under its umbrella, was one of intent moderated by open-mindedness.
“Be decisive in where you want to go, but leave the door open to a better idea,” he
During a short press conference following the luncheon, Perdue said he had tried to
impress upon President Trump the importance of the North American Free Trade Agreement,
NAFTA, to U.S. farmers, even as Trump has repeatedly made overtures toward “renegotiating”
the agreement, which was enacted in 1994.
“NAFTA is very important to American agriculture.” Perdue said. “We know that through
the Mid-South, the Mexican market takes a lot of rice, a lot of cotton, pork and other
things. Mexico and Canada are the No. 1 and No. 2 export destinations for American
“The president is hearing that universally, and I think is taking into consideration
what that means,” he said. “His responsibility, obviously, covers the whole U.S. economy.”
To learn about farming in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service
agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex,
gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital
or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and
is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
# # #
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A Ssystem Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) firstname.lastname@example.org