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Donna Braymer/Staff

Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward spoke at the Farm Bureau annual banquet on Monday, Oct. 7. Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in the state.

“Agriculture is the No. 1 industry at $21 billion a year,” Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward said. “How many of you think it’s easy?”

No one responded and he said, “And that’s the reason agriculture is so successful in our state, because of hard-working people like you.”

Ward spoke at the Farm Bureau on Monday, Oct. 7, and bragged on the hard-working farmers of the area and success of the diverse nature of agriculture around the state.

“There are challenges and our governor is committed to transforming state government to make it more efficient, and protect our natural resources. Agriculture deserves a state government who will work for you and not get in your way,” he said. “We don’t want to create additional hardships for you.”

Ward mentioned that the problem with feral hogs is probably the most discussed issue around the state. “We have four proposals with the USDA right now and we are waiting on them. Then the state will be able to take additional actions to address this issue.”

The governor recently announced formation of the Buffalo River Conservation Committee. “There is a total of about $2 million to go into conservation efforts. I want to make it clear, we will be asking for your input on this. The intent is not for the state to dictate what will be done. But to do conservation practices to protect the watershed we want your input. We hope to adopt some voluntary practices that landowners can adopt if they so choose.”

“We will have more meetings soon in this area to make these decisions. That’s the most important fact. We want the decisions to come from this area – not Little Rock,” Ward said.

“I’m very proud of our agriculture industry,” he said. “We are very diverse throughout the state. We do a lot of things very well. But that’s contingent upon all of us being involved and making sure the state and federal government is doing things the way they ought and not get in your way. I appreciate Farm Bureau and you being here tonight. If you weren’t here, I’d be concerned about the future of agriculture. This is a strong indication of the commitment to agriculture and our industry.”

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