Ark. Rice Leaders, Ag Industry Meet With USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey

   U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services Bill Northey met with Arkansas government and agriculture leaders here and then traveled to Stuttgart to meet with producers and rice industry representatives.  
Sworn in on March 6, Northey now oversees the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Risk Management Agency (RMA) mission areas.  He was accompanied by Cynthia Edwards, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Arkansas Agriculture Department; David Curtis, State Executive Director, Arkansas FSA; and Mike Sullivan, State Conservationist, Arkansas NRCS.
   “Farmers are the salt of the earth and it's a pleasure to be able to work alongside our growers,” said Northey. “We are committed to customer service and will become irrelevant if we aren’t in touch with the specific needs of each of our states.”
   “We greatly appreciate Under Secretary Northey’s time in Arkansas learning about our state's largest industry and his efforts to gain a better understanding of our growers' needs,” said Arkansas Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward.  “I have witnessed and appreciated Secretary Northey’s work first-hand through his previous post as Iowa Agriculture Secretary and know he will continue to advance our industry in his new capacity.”
   During the rice specific meeting, growers highlighted current industry priorities including the significance of working lands conservation programs like RCPP, CSP, and EQIP, as well as the importance of irrigation infrastructure projects. Arkansas rice farmers have consistently led efforts to improve conservation and stewardship of Arkansas lands and waterways.
   “The new administration has been very intentional about providing the best service possible to us as producers,” said Arkansas Rice Federation Chairman Jeff Rutledge.  “The time he took to meet with us and listen to our concerns today only confirm that further.” ∆
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