Arkansas farmers express flood concerns during roundtable
Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton held a roundtable with farmers.
Recent flooding in the state continues to be a concern for producers. State Secretary of Ag, Wes Ward says that they do not have a total number yet, but it is starting to add up.
According to Sec. Ward, “Some of the economic numbers we’ve seen have been over 600,000 acres impacted, probably 300,000 of that being a total loss, and so really, as far as dollar values, it looks to be over $200 million dollars worth of direct losses to producers...”
While some producers are working to replant lost crops, others will be looking for potential disaster relief, an issue Sec. Ward brought up to Sen. Cotton during the roundtable.
“In particular, working with the USDA Farm Service Agency and requesting a secretarial disaster declaration, so that has been submitted to Secretary Vilsack,” Ward states. “Governor Hutchinson has submitted a letter to Secretary Vilsack asking for that designation as well... talking about any sort of relief that may be available for producers that have been impacted.”
The flooding also raised questions about long-term fixes. Arkansas Farm Bureau VP, Mike Freeze says that the infrastructure package could be one solution.
“The Senator expressed that may be in the infrastructure bill that’s being considered that some of that money could be used for drainage projects, and there is some language in there for water projects, but exactly how that definition is going to be determined hasn’t yet been decided yet,” Freeze explains.
At the USDA office, Freeze also says that improvements could be made to USDA’s crop insurance programs, to better suit a wider variety of producers.
“If you go to the Midwest or western Texas, those farmers mainly they plant a seed and if the rains come they get a crop. If the rain doesn’t come then they get a disaster declaration and the insurance program works for that. In Arkansas, because we are so heavily irrigated, as is Mississippi and Louisiana, we plant our seeds and if the rains don’t come we turn the wells on, and so we have a tremendous amount of input costs in a crop that another state doesn’t even have the advantage of trying to use,” he adds.
While the majority of the conversation focused on flooding, Sen. Cotton’s office says that they also discussed Biden’s tax plans and how that could affect Arkansas family farms.