Established in 1917, the Arkansas State Plant Board has diligently managed ag services and products, including seed, feed, honeybees, pest control, pesticides and much more. The agency is made up of five divisions – seed, pesticide, plant industry, feed and fertilizer, and bureau of standards. Each is responsible for ensuring laws and regulations are administered respectively.
“We have about 30 laws that affect our operations here. Those laws assign specific duties to the plant board to develop regulations and enforce those regulations,” says Director Terry Walker, an Arkansas native who initially joined the board as a division director in 2002 and assumed the director position in January 2016.
“One of the major components of the board is to enforce laws that involve the agricultural industry – primarily on the plant side of agriculture,” he says.
For example, the Seed Division enforces seed laws and handles certifications, while the Bureau of Standards Division ensures products – such as gasoline, feed or food available in grocery stores – are being sold at the marketed measure or count.
“The Bureau of Standards essentially affects every citizen in Arkansas,” Walker notes.
He says one of the board’s major achievements in the Plant Industry Division was its joint effort with the U.S. Forest Service and USDA to remove the gypsy moth threat.
“Unchecked, the pest consumes large areas of forests and forest resources,” Walker says. “There was a lot of money, effort and time spent on that issue, and over a two- or three-year period, that infestation was eradicated from the state.”
More recently, the board was involved in a federal program eradicating the boll weevil, a pest that feeds on cotton.
“Since 2008, Arkansas is boll weevil free, as are other states except for a small area in Texas,” Walker says.