March 14, 2012 Edition

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Lawrence County Chamber Board Member Ashley Burris (from left) and Tori Hicks, both members of the Chamber's Agriculture Committee, talk with Brittany Schmidt with Farm Service Agency during a breakfast on Thursday. The Chamber hosted the event for farmers and agriculture-related businesses.
TD Photo ~ Gretchen Hunt

Chamber working to
revitalize agri committee

Gretchen Hunt

Approximately 25 were in attendance on Thursday for a breakfast hosted by the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce for farmers and agriculture-related businesses.

The Chamber is working to revitalize an agriculture committee that has been dormant for the past several years. Committee Chair Ashley Burris spoke to those at the breakfast about the Chamber's desire to develop a more active relationship with the agriculture community.

"We had an executive committee meeting yesterday, and we have a very active Tourism Committee," she said. "They just returned from the Governor's Conference on Tourism, where they discussed the fact that tourism is now the number two industry in the state. Do you know what the number one industry is? Agriculture."

She and fellow committee member Tori Hicks discussed the fact that the committee has been inactive for several years.

"We want to make sure agriculture is well represented in Lawrence County," Burris said. "We are looking for some new blood. We need to build up the agriculture committee."

Other members of the committee include Charles Petty, Chris Penn, Ronald Cavenaugh, Mike Shelton and Herb Ginn.

Some of the plans include trying to bring back the rice tasting event in September and revitalizing the Ag Expo, with the possible addition of an open farm sale.

Shelton emphasized that it is important to remember that in addition to row crops, Lawrence County also has a very active livestock farming industry.

"We want everyone to be represented," he said.

Farm bill meeting set

Andrea Allen with U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford's office spoke briefly about an upcoming Farm Bill hearing in Jonesboro.

"There are only going to be four in the country," she said. "One of those is in Jonesboro."

The House Agriculture Committee will hold the field hearing for the 2012 Farm Bill on Friday, March 30, at 9 a.m. at the Fowler Center on the campus of Arkansas State University.

Committee Chairman Frank Lucas and other committee members will be at the hearing, and Allen told farmers at the breakfast that she is hoping for a good representation of local farmers among those who will be attending the regional meeting.

In a press release, Crawford stated the importance of the hearing.

"Our district is home to a great variety of agriculture interests," he said. "In the Delta we grow rice, cotton, corn, beans and even peanuts. In the Ozarks we have chicken, cattle, dairy and timber producers. The field hearing in Jonesboro will be our opportunity to make sure that a new Farm Bill protects our rural communities and ensures the viability of Southern agriculture."

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