Dale Bumpers Remembered as Icon in State Agriculture Industry

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Agricultural leaders in Arkansas are remembering the contributions to the state’s largest industry made by the late Dale Bumpers.

Bumpers, a Democrat from Charleston, died Jan. 1 at his home in Little Rock. He was 90. He was the state’s 38th governor, from1971 to 1975, and served in the U.S. Senate from 1975 until his retirement in 1999.

His funeral was Jan. 10 in Little Rock.

“As you look at the elected leaders who have been a part of shaping ourstate’s history, Dale Bumpers stands out as one who made an extraordinary effort to not only preserve, but develop and expand upon the agriculture industry in Arkansas,” Mark Cochran, vice president for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said in a statement. “He is known for many positive things, but we will always know him as the ‘Agriculture Senator’ for his deeply-held convictions for farmers, growers, and rural communities in his state.”  

Bumpers’ commitment to agriculture previously led to the naming of the Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences in his honor on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville, along with the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Facility and the Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center in eastern Arkansas.

During his 24 years in the U.S. Senate, Bumpers helped secure more than $80 million in funds for agriculture — aimed at creating facilities and programs that directly benefitted the state.

“He was a Depression-era youth who grew up in small-town Arkansas dependent on agriculture,” said Chuck Culver, a former member of Bumpers’ staff who now serves as the director of external relations for the Division of Agriculture. “He later married into a farming family and even raised cows himself until he ran for governor. Food security and protecting farmers were major considerations for him.”