Appreciating Arkansas’s Farmers

October 11, 2019
Weekly Columns

Food is a necessity for life, and agriculture is Arkansas’s largest economic sector. The American economy and our basic existence depend on farmers. Almost everything that we use in our daily lives can be traced in some way to farm production or natural resource extraction. From crops to cattle, farmers support an economic chain that affects every single one of our lives.

Arkansas is blessed with incredible farmers and ranchers that dedicate their lives to agriculture, and I always look forward to meeting with them during my annual farm tour. This week, I went from Mulberry to Pine Bluff visiting both local farmers and large corporations, learning about their needs and how I can help them in the federal government.

One of the highlights of the week was at the Fourche River Farm and Cattle Company, where I met with Greg and Lavonne Hickl. Greg has a background in finance, and he broke down the numbers of his small-scale beef cattle farm and walked me through every aspect of his operation. The bottom line? It’s virtually impossible for cattle farmers to make ends meet, unless they’re working another job on the side.

This doesn’t have to be the case. Farmers shouldn’t need to take on staggering debt or work additional jobs just to feed their animals or upgrade their harvesting equipment while Americans enjoy the most diverse, abundant, safe, low-cost and reliable food supply on the planet.  This imbalance could explain why the average age of farmers in the U.S. is approaching 60 years old. More and more young people are moving to urban areas, with no interest in inheriting their family farms. Not only that, but unforeseen disasters like the flooding Arkansas withstood earlier this year make it even more challenging to live independently on the land.

That’s why I’m committed to boosting Arkansas agriculture any way I can in D.C. Whether that’s coordinating with the Army Corps of Engineers to fix breached levees and modernize infrastructure or advocating for trade deals like USMCA that would allow Arkansas farmers to export more of their products, I’m continuing to work on your behalf. I look forward to taking the conversations I had with farmers and implementing them into positive change.