LITTLE ROCK, Ark – The oppressive heat wave’s effect on Arkansas farmers has led to action by the governor.
In a letter dated July 15, Gov. Asa Hutchinson asked the United States Department of Agriculture to declare Arkansas a disaster area.
Hutchinson cited agriculture’s $19.4 billion annual impact on the state economy, also noting that one in six jobs in the state are tied to ag.
He also explained that U.S. Drought Monitor showed that the entire state was in some level of distress, ranging from the Abnormally Dry range to a Moderate Drought range to even parts of three northern counties being in the Severe Drought range.
Those conditions were all just days into a stretch that has brought triple-digit heat for nine consecutive days, and little to no rain through much of the state.
“These conditions are weighing heavily on Arkansas’s agricultural producers and rural communities,” the governor states. “Hay production has stalled, with many producers not getting a second cutting, forcing them to seek alternative sources or reduce their herd. Sales at Arkansas livestock markets are up significantly over the past month. Row crops are requiring significantly higher levels of irrigation which increases production costs and stresses irrigation equipment and water supplies. Wildfire danger is at a 10-year high in Arkansas, with 53 of the state’s 75 counties under burn bans.”
As of July 19, Arkansas has 64 counties with a burn ban.