When Aubra Anthony gathers with national groups, he is reminded of the exceptional agricultural agencies back home in Arkansas.
Anthony serves as chairman of the Arkansas Agriculture Board, a group of professionals and leaders from all facets of Arkansas agriculture who are appointed by Governor Asa Hutchinson. The board advises the Arkansas Agriculture Secretary as the eyes and ears on the ground for agricultural efforts across the state.
“One of the things that helps Arkansas be a leading state for agriculture is this friendly, working relationship,” says Anthony, executive vice president of Anthony Forest Products Company LLC.
Created in 2005 in tandem with the department itself, the Arkansas Agriculture Board offers expertise to the secretary of the Arkansas Agriculture Department on all matters concerning agriculture, aquaculture, horticulture and kindred industries. The board of 21 voting members and eight nonvoting, ex-officio members meets quarterly. The discussions prove broad, whether about state and federal policies, environmental issues, international trade or opportunities to further develop Arkansas agriculture.
“The Agriculture Board provides a mechanism by which the Agriculture Department is in close communication with people who are actually out there doing it, and can share what is working and not working so that agencies within the state can react and respond,” says Anthony, who brings his family’s 100-year history in forestry to the table.
Voting members commit unpaid time to represent all facets of agriculture in Arkansas, from poultry to pigs and rice to natural resources management. The governor appoints these board members, who may serve up to two four-year terms. Other gubernatorial appointees are selected by their respective commissions. Most of the nonvoting, ex-officio members represent the state’s universities.
Adriane Barnes, director of communications for the Arkansas Agriculture Department, says the Arkansas Agriculture Board helps state leaders form policies and initiatives that equally benefit all of Arkansas agriculture.
“When you have representation from every agency that could possibly be involved with agriculture, you are able to make decisions that are broader in focus,” she says.