An "Arkansas Grown" label can now be seen on approved agricultural products grown or made in the state, according the Arkansas Agriculture Department.
An “Arkansas Grown” label can now be seen on approved agricultural products grown or made in the state, according the Arkansas Agriculture Department.
The revamped Arkansas Grown program is intended to help potential buyers easily locate Arkansas agricultural products. The program has been undertaken in partnership with horticulturist P. Allen Smith. Participation is up to the producer. Arkansas Grown labels are already being used by The Brothers & Sisters of Charity at Little Portion Monastery in Berryville and Kent Walker Artisan Cheese in Little Rock.
“We’re excited about the changes we’ve made to the program that will benefit consumers and producers,” said Arkansas Agriculture Department Secretary Butch Calhoun. “Arkansas Grown will help consumers more readily identify locally grown foods so they can make informed choices and stimulate their local economy by keeping their food dollars in the community.”
In a recent radio address, Gov. Mike Beebe said that with approval from the state agriculture department, any agricultural product grown or made in the state will be able to carry the trademarked “Arkansas Grown” label. It’s thought “that this will help these products stand out at major retailers like Walmart, which in 2008 made a commitment to stock more locally grown foods, Beebe said.
“Farmers and producers want to farm and produce,” Smith adds. “That’s what they’re good at and how they want to spend their time. Now, they have an advocate, Arkansas Grown, that’ll step in and get them plugged in to the state’s market. It’s a win for farmers, consumers and Arkansas’ economy.”
Smith is an award-winning designer, gardening and lifestyle expert and host of two public television shows.
The Arkansas Grown program aims to connect Arkansas farmers with a range of buyers, such as restaurants, schools and grocery stores, a news release states. The ultimate goal is to increase the quantity of locally produced food in the state’s market.
Benefits of a strong local food system include economic gains for smaller farmers and the state, a reduction of environmental pollution by decreasing food transportation distances and increased access to fresher, healthier and better-tasting foods for the public.
Arkansas Grown offers tiered options for farmers and producers: a free option that also includes special labeling for restaurants, one for $25 and another for $50 with increasing exposure and benefits accompanying each. Many states, including Georgia, Texas, Missouri and New Jersey, have successful comparable programs.
For information or to sign up, visit www.arkansasgrown.org.
Arkansas has 45,000 farms covering 13.8 million acres, with agriculture accounting for almost $17 billion of value to the state economy. Almost 260,000 Arkansas jobs, or one out of every six in the state, are in agriculture.