Plant Industries Division
The mission of the Plant Industries Division is to protect and serve the citizens of Arkansas and the agricultural and business communities by providing information and unbiased enforcement pf laws and regulations thus ensuring quality products and services. Our vision is to maintain a competent, friendly, cooperative, and efficient Division able to promptly serve the agricultural and business communities and the general public in a credible, professional manner.
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Plant Industries Division is organized into five Sections. General oversight of the Division is provided by the State Plant Board Director. Oversight of each of the five sections is provided by a Section Manager (GS11).
The Division conducts work activities associated with 58 programs. The programs range from pesticide enforcement to nursery inspections to seed certification to hemp research licensing, etc. Staffing levels average 118 personnel with approximately 54 being field inspectors.
Agricultural Specialist Inspector Section
This section consists of 1 Section Manager, 4 district supervisors, and 29 inspectors located throughout the state. The inspectors provide inspections services for all Plant Industries Division Sections. They are trained to conduct various types of inspections, sampling procedures, trapping/surveying, and investigations. This includes plant symptomology from herbicide exposure which is provided annually in cooperation with UofA Extension. The inspectors have participated in invasive pest surveys and eradication efforts and assisted with an assortment of duties on an as needed basis. This a critical component of the work activities conducted by the entire Division.
The responsibilities of this section include the administration and enforcement of: 1) the Pesticide Control Act and Regulations; 2) Pesticide Use and Application Act and Regulations; 3) regulations on pesticide classification; and 4) special initiatives negotiated with EPA dealing with worker protection, endangered species, ground water protection, and container and containment.
The major activities involve: registration approval after label review of various products covered; issuance of permits and licenses to manufacturers, dealers, and custom, commercial, non-commercial and private applicators after qualification; subjecting pesticides to continuous inspection and sampling in the field and chemical analysis in the laboratory to determine label compliance; inspecting pesticide producing establishments to insure compliance with the Federal Insecticide Fungicide & Rodenticide Act (FIFRA); investigating pesticide complaints; applying legal remedies such as civil penalty assessment to effect compliance when violations are found; compiling statistical data for the use by industry and educational agencies; providing compliance assistance and enforcement of worker protection standards; implementing state ground water protection plan; and developing a state endangered species plan.
The Regulatory Services Section
This section provides diverse program services for Arkansas agriculture-related industries and individuals. The mission is to provide an avenue for proper regulations of plant disease, plant pests, food safety, and pest control which perpetuates quality products and services to the public and regulated industries.
The Regulatory Services Section consists of 22 full-time employees and utilizes agricultural specialist inspectors on an as-needed basis. The Section also employs seasonal employees which are hired as needed for survey work, fruit and vegetable inspecting, and peanut grading. Seasonal employees average 30 annually.
Seed, Feed, Fertilizer, and Hemp Section
The Seed Industry in Arkansas is one of the major economic resources in Arkansas Agriculture. Row crops such as soybean, rice, wheat, corn, sorghum and cotton contribute billions of dollars in value. Soybeans and soybean products are Arkansas’s largest agricultural export and Arkansas is the number one producer of rice in the United States. In 2018, 106,650,000 hundredweight of rice were harvested from 1,422,000 acres. Seed producing plants are the foundation of human diets around the world and provide much of the nutritional values that humans need.
Feed and Fertilizer
The Program is charged with the administration and enforcement of the Feed and Fertilizer Laws and Regulations, Agricultural Liming Materials Act, Soil Amendment Act, Agricultural Consultants Licensing Act, 100% Natural Organic Fertilizer Act and the Aflatoxin Act. The program tracks the tonnage of products sold in the state and collects fees to support its programs and provides statistical data for use by the agricultural industry. The program works to ensure public safety and a fair marketplace by providing oversight of feed and fertilizer products sold in the state. This is accomplished by the inspection of facilities, producer labeling practices and by taking random samples from retail sites and distribution points and submitting these samples to the Department of Agriculture’s chemistry lab for testing against label claims. The program also investigates all claims of product contamination, inferior quality and unlicensed activity brought to its attention.
The Arkansas Industrial Hemp Act was introduced by Representative David Hillman (Rep) as House Bill HB1778 on 1 MAR 2017. The bill became law on 7 APR 2017 without the governor’s signature. This Act would direct the Arkansas State Plant Board (ASPB) to create a program to research the feasibility of introducing hemp to Arkansas as a viable crop. This program would become known as the Arkansas Industrial Hemp Research Program. The first rules were crafted by the Seed Division Director Mary Smith. The rules were approved by the ASPB and became effective on 31 AUG 2018. The first hemp application was received on 1 OCT 2018 and the first hemp license was issued on 19 NOV 2018. The program’s first program coordinator, Caleb Allen, was hired on 6 MAY 2019.
Agricultural Consultants Licensing
Each person performing the functions of a licensed agricultural consultant, before advertising as such, must meet specific licensing requirements and obtain a license. Such functions being defined as providing advice or prescriptions for: the control or eradication of any insect or mite pest, any plant, pathogen (including nematodes), or any weed; and the use of fertilizer, lime and/or micro-nutrients based on soil classification and cropping systems and soil or plant tests. During 2018-19, there were 231 such consultants licensed.
Grain, Warehouse, and Catfish Processor
The Public Grain Warehouse and Catfish Processor Section is the overseer of three regulatory laws: The Public Grain Warehouse Law, The Grain Dealer Law, and The Catfish Processor Fair Practices Act. Each law is designed to give our producers a measure of protection against bad business practices of facilities that fall under the jurisdiction of these laws.
Bureau of Standards
The Bureau’s mission is to ensure equity and fairness in the commercial transactions of the marketplace by establishing accuracy and uniformity in the State’s commerce through enforcement of laws and regulations which benefit and protect both buyers and sellers of the products and services. The section’s regulatory goals are to provide consumers and businesses a fair-trade environment, to encourage business development and instill consumer confidence. To achieve these goals, the division routinely performs unannounced inspections, complaint investigations and other regulatory activities that involve suppliers, retailers and distributors. The Arkansas Bureau of Standards is the only Weights and Measures regulatory agency in the State of Arkansas to provide consumers and the industry with oversight and protection in commercial transactions. It is estimated, Weights and Measures programs and regulations affect approximately 50% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Arkansas.