The Natural State lives up to its nickname by utilizing its bountiful natural resources to produce high-quality agricultural products.
As the largest industry in the state, agriculture is a $17 billion industry ranging from fields to forests to fish.
The landscape and climate vary throughout the state’s six regional land types: the Ozark Mountains, the Arkansas River Valley, the Ouachita Mountains, the West Gulf Coastal Plain, the Mississippi Alluvial Plain and Crowley’s Ridge. Arkansas’s growing season varies from region to region. In the northwest, the growing season is 180 days, while in the southwest it can be as long as 240 days.
Farmland covers 13.5 million acres of the 33.3 million total acres in the state. There are roughly 47,800 farms in Arkansas, with an average size of 282 acres.
Top commodities include broilers (chicken for meat), soybeans, rice, cotton, cattle and calves, and turkeys. The biggest commodity in Arkansas is poultry, generating 40 percent of the total cash receipts in 2012. Arkansas is ranked No. 2 in the nation for broilers, and exports chicken meat throughout the state and country. The poultry industry employs more than 38,000 people in Arkansas annually.
A booming aquaculture industry ranks Arkansas first in the nation for baitfish production and third for catfish. Close to 8,200 acres are used for catfish production. Arkansas also produces grass carp, goldfish and crawfish.
Arkansas ranks No. 5 in the nation for softwood lumber. Forests cover about 57 percent of the state, and more than half of those belong to private landowners.
Trees of another sort are also prevalent in the state. Nut and fruit trees are abundant in the orchards of Arkansas. The state is ranked No. 10 in the nation for pecan production. Arkansas’s largest fruit crop is the peach, with more than 10 million pounds produced annually.
The broad agricultural industry affords employment opportunities to farmers, salespeople, food processors and more. Arkansas depends on the diverse industry for both sustenance and livelihood.