LITTLE ROCK – The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, made his third official visit to Arkansas this week, and today I’m going to discuss the Shared Stewardship agreement we signed during his visit.

It is significant to note that Arkansas is the first southern state to sign this agreement, which creates a partnership between the state and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to care for all of our natural resources.

The agreement establishes a framework so that government at all levels can work together, no matter where calamity strikes. The agreement allows for us to “effectively respond to the increasing ecological challenges and natural-resource concerns in Arkansas, whether aquatic, terrestrial, or air.”

In other words, we are going to work together to take care of our land, water, and air.

Natural disasters such as fire, flood, drought, the infestation of insects, and the spread of invasive plants don’t pay any mind to the boundaries between state land, federal land, and private property.

The agreement calls for proactive measures that include minimizing the risk of wildfires through the use of prescribed and controlled burning, and by minimizing the suppression of naturally caused forest fires; identifying, managing, and reducing threats to forest and ecosystem health; and creating economic development strategies that keep working forests productive.

Arkansas has a good relationship with Secretary Perdue, who is adamant that his agency is accessible and transparent. This agreement further enhances transparency and our access to the Department of Agriculture.

Approximately one-hundred foresters, farmers, and conservationists, as well as some state legislators and congressmen, crowded into the conference room at the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.

After we discussed the agreement, Secretary Perdue answered questions from the audience about farming and trade. He assured rice growers that the Department of Agriculture is working hard on their behalf.

Secretary Perdue praised American farmers. He said that we are blessed to live in a nation that is a food superpower that doesn’t depend on any other nation for food.

When Secretary Perdue had answered all the questions, we moved to a table and signed the agreement. The Department of Agriculture meeting underscored the good relationship that Arkansas has with the Secretary Perdue’s Department of Agriculture. The secretary grew up on a farm, and he understands the needs of agriculture. He also understands that we solve problems when the state and federal governments work together on behalf of the United States.

As Secretary Perdue said, at the end of the day, we all serve the same citizens.

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