Chris Jones knows that Arkansas farmers and ranchers are among the most efficient producers in the world. Agriculture is the largest industry in Arkansas, contributing $16 billion to our economy every year. We are blessed with over 33 million acres of farm and forest lands, mostly owned and managed by family farmers. Arkansas farmers and ranchers feed and clothe the world, producing the most rice and third most cotton in the US. Farmers and ranchers truly are the backbone of the Natural State. Chris knows that the role of Arkansas producers has never been more important to the state, nation, and world.
Chris recognizes that Arkansas farmers, ranchers, and foresters face unprecedented challenges in the coming years from rising fuel and fertilizer prices, product market volatility, access to water and land, extreme weather conditions, and emerging plant and animal disease threats. Chris will work with our state conservation agencies, county extension program, agricultural research network, and USDA to identify and prioritize resources to draft a 2023 Farm Bill, which will help Arkansas farmers secure a more resilient future.
Chris understands that soils are our greatest gift to future Arkansans. The ongoing efforts of Arkansas farmers, ranchers, and foresters to maintain soil health is a key component to solving our climate crisis. Arkansas farmers have adopted climate smart agricultural practices such as conservation tillage, cover crops, and 4R fertilizer practices to create healthy soils while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. On-farm energy production buffers producers from the extremes of energy prices that have plagued many regions of the state. Chris believes that Arkansas farmers should not have to carry the burden of tackling climate challenges alone. Paying farmers to implement beneficial practices is both fair and good business. Chris will work with our neighbor states and USDA to implement carbon credit payments in the 2023 Farm Bill to provide reasonable and meaningful support to Arkansas Farmers.
Most importantly, Chris understands that agricultural production is the future of Arkansas. The barriers to entry for young farmers and ranchers are almost insurmountable with current financial resources, land prices, rents, and equipment costs. Chris will work with regional agriculture groups, communities, the Arkansas extension and research network, processors, and retailers to create new opportunities for young farmers and ranchers. These opportunities include high yield, high value, small scale fruit and vegetable production as well as niche market meat and poultry production. Chris knows these strategies will provide access to production for young producers while also providing nutritious food to local communities, increasing food security in our rural communities. Chris believes that community-based strategies can solve many problems at the same time.
As Governor, Chris will work with businesses, family farms, processors, and consumers to ensure that state government helps agriculture work for all Arkansans. Chris will:
Meet farmers where they are to understand their challenges and help find real solutions to support sustainable, resilient and prosperous agriculture.
Work with state and federal programs to ensure Arkansas farmers receive support and resources to implement climate smart agriculture practices.
Build partnerships between farmers and communities to support young farmers and ranchers to increase local food production and provide local food security and access.