The robust economy of Arkansas owes a lot of gratitude to the contributions of the agricultural sector. In many regards including employment and foreign exchange earnings, agriculture is a big deal in Arkansas. To sustain the gains made in agriculture, a lot of researches are done in the field by the USDA and other organizations to provide recommendations on the best way to increase production and profitability.
Most of the works done to promote agriculture in this area are sponsored by grants. The large availability of grants also makes agriculture attractive to the residents. The grants come with different requirements and of different amounts and the getting the right grant can as well be the secret to your agricultural success.
SARE Grants In Arkansas
The Sustainable Agriculture, Research and Education (SARE) has awarded as much as 87 grants in Arkansas with the aim of promoting sustainable innovations in agriculture across the nation. SARE is part of the outreach programs used by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for ranchers, farmers, educators, and researchers who have the intention of improving farm profitability through innovative means, revitalize communities and protect water and land. Up until now, SARE has awarded over $251 million to fund over 6,300 initiatives.
Arkansas has been a beneficiary of this grant. The aim of one of SARE’s grants in Arkansas is to promote research that will “Maximize cover crop use in high tunnels”. It is well-documented that cover crops are useful in soil management but vegetable growers using high tunnels will usually decline from planting them in structures because the benefit is unclear. Luke Freeman, a University of Arkansas graduate got the necessary fun from SARE to study the optimum timing of cover crops planting in Southern high tunnels to maximize benefits and minimize the negatives.
When cover crops are properly used in high tunnels, they can reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizers as well as improve the quality of the soil. Empowered by the grant, Freeman was able to study the impact of four cover crops. He discovered that the greatest biomass nitrogen contribution was from winter peas. This finding adds to the knowledge of Southern high tunnel vegetable growers on the benefits they can get from cover crops. Results like this are also the reason why Arkansas has sustained a stable agriculture over the past four decades.
USDA Grant For Specialty Crops
In 2017, the Specialty Crop Block Grant of the United States Department of Agriculture doled out $302,776 to Arkansas to fund 8 specialty crop projects. In total, 56 of such projects were funded in the entire nation bringing the total amount of funds set aside for specialty projects by the USDA to $62.5 million.
The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service channeled the fund into research on the use of cover crops for the production of vegetables during summer. University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service’ Dr Amanda McWhirt expressed gratitude for the fund and mentioned it will be used to collaborate with farmers across the state for the project.
The purpose of the grant by the Specialty Crop Block Grant project is to improve the competitiveness of specialty crops as well as strengthen the agricultural prowess of the nation. According to the USDA, specialty crops include vegetables, fruits, dried fruits, tree nuts, nursery crops, and horticulture. The specialty crop industry in Arkansas creates 27,135 jobs and contributes as much as $1.4 billion to the economy of the state.
Residents of Arkansas who wish to be part of the Specialty Crop Block Grants program fund are expected to send in their applications through the Arkansas Agriculture Department (AAD). The application for the 2018 batch of the Specialty Crop Block Program will be accepted in early 2019. For further details, interested participants can contact Christian through Christian.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scholarships And Loans
Giving out agricultural loans and scholarships to students studying agricultural related courses are some of the initiatives by various organizations in the state to improve the output of agriculture in the state. Arkansas’ economy is largely dependent on agriculture. Therefore, any effort geared at improving the interest in agriculture is laudable.
In a show of what would be termed more of a humanitarian than economic gesture, Farm Credit partnered with the Arkansas Agricultural Department in a project termed ‘Homegrown by Heroes’ to provide $1,000 academic scholarship to serving military personnel, military veterans and their spouses or children who aspire to pursue an agriculture of agriculture-related degree. Speaking on the partnership, Wes Ward, the Arkansas Agriculture Secretary said,
“We are proud to partner with Farm Credit to provide academic scholarships for the men and women, and their families, that have served our country in the military. It is an honor to provide these scholarships as a way of thanking them for their service to our country.”
Source: Farm Credit Midsouth
The application for the scholarship closed on August 17, 2018, and the selection of recipients for the scholarship will be based on a number of factors including community involvement, academic achievement, extracurricular activities, family circumstances, and financial need.
In the past, similar Homegrown by Heroes program has helped farmer veterans to attract buyers for their agricultural products by labeling them as veteran-produced. However, partnering with AAD will bring more attention to the program. AAD plays a major role in the development and implementation of programs and policies for the Arkansas agricultural sector to help ranchers and farmers sustain their competitiveness in national and international markets. They also ensure safe food, forest and fiber products for the state and nation at large.
Arkansas Beginning Farmer Loan Program
Budding farmers in the state can seize the opportunity provided by this loan to acquire agricultural property like land, equipment, buildings, and breeding stock at a reduced interest rate. Only “First Time Farmers” are allowed into the program.
A “First Time Farmer” is defined as an individual who has not at any time had a direct or indirect interest in substantial farmland or participated in such operations.