GENTRY Many farmers use sophisticated machinery to grow their crops and modern communications technology to market them.
In a sign of the times, a new Internet Web site has gone online whose purpose is to help Arkansans find locallygrown products from Arkansas. The other benefit is to help Arkansas farmers tap into the market of Arkansas food shoppers.
ArkansasGrown.org is the Web site developed by the state Agriculture Department to help buyers locate Arkansas products. Arkansas farmers may list their marketing information on the Web site without charge.
Arkansas producers can brand their products with labels that say: "Arkansas Grown."
The Web site has tools for locating food grown locally in Arkansas communities, and restaurants that serve Arkansas-grown products. It also has a guide to all the farmers' markets in the state.
The Arkansas Grown program is related to an agritourism campaign, also promoted by the Agriculture Department as well as the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, the Parks andTourism Department, Arkansas Farm Bureau and the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute.
Boosting agri-tourism helps farmers generate additional income and is educational, especially for young people from urban areas. You can find information about hay rides, pumpkin patches, grape and pickle festivals and winery tours at a Parks and Tourism Web page at this address: http:// arkansas.com/ agri-tourism.
The Web page also helps you locate farms where you can pick your own berries, where you can learn to can vegetables and prepare your own herbs and spices. Promoting agri-tourism is a way to bridge the gap between the urban and rural areas of Arkansas.
The state Game and Fish Commission has set a 60-day season for waterfowl later this year. The dates for duck season are Nov. 21 through 29, Dec. 10 through 23 and Dec. 26 through Jan. 31. The youth waterfowl hunt will be on Dec. 5 and 6.
Last year about 60,000 hunters took about 1.1 millionducks in Arkansas. That was the third best harvest in the country, after California, where hunters took 1.6 million ducks, and Louisiana, where hunters took 1.5 million ducks.
Texas was fourth with a duck harvest of 1 million, and Oregon was fifth with a harvest of almost 700,000.
Roughly half the ducks harvested in Arkansas were mallards. Arkansas hunters took more mallards than taken in any other state - about twice as many as the second place state, Tennessee.
State tax collections in August reflected the slowing economy. Net revenue for the month was $341.3 million, which was $9.4 million, or 2.7 percent, below August of 2008.
There was some good news in the report: Individual income taxes were up 1.7 percent, which means more people were working, state economists said.
However, sales tax revenue indicates people are buying less than last year. Sales tax revenue was $172.9 million for the month, down 9.5 percent from August of 2008. The decline in sales tax affects not only the state but also city governments.
If you have any questions or comments about legislative issues, please contact me at HendrenK@arkleg.state.ar.us or call me at 479-787-6500, extension 30.
Opinion, Pages 5 on 09/09/2009