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Senator Cotton Speaks About National Agriculture Day on the Senate Floor

March 15, 2016

I grew up on a cattle farm in Dardanelle, where I started helping my dad around the farm when I was just a little boy. In fact, I was kicking hay bales off the truck when I was barely bigger than those hay bales. Growing up, most people I knew had some kind of connection to farming. And I'm proud to say that in Arkansas, that's still mostly the case today. In honor of National Agriculture Day, I want to say few words about Arkansas's agriculture and what it means to our state.

Agriculture is Arkansas's largest industry. It accounts for over $20 billion of value added to our state economy each year and contributes thousands and thousands of jobs. Arkansas is a top 25 producer in 23 different agricultural commodities. And we rank first in the nation in rice production-producing close to 50 percent of the rice in the United States. But it doesn't end there, we are also a major exporter of crops like soybeans, cotton, poultry, and feed grains. Our catfish and timber industries are booming and our cattle inventory exceeds 1.7 million head. Our ag industry is also expanding by the day and we've recently become a big player in the peanut industry.

But for Arkansas, agriculture is more than just a business, it's a passion and a way of life. We have nearly 50,000 farms in Arkansas and 97 percent of them are owned by families. Neighborly chats in Arkansas often tend to focus on planting seasons and beef prices. And in towns like Dardanelle, kids don't have to worry about farm chores keeping them from playing with their friends on a Saturday-because those friends are likely busy helping on their farms too. Agriculture is who we are. I've certainly taken the lessons I learned growing up on a farm with me into the Army, in Congress, and now in fatherhood.

So today, and every day, let's remember Arkansas's and America's farmers and ranchers. Happy National Agriculture Day.