University of Arkansas Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz told several hundred farmers, ranchers and agricultural leaders from across the state this week that agriculture is critical to the state’s fortunes and the UA “remains committed to its land grant roots and mission, and to meeting the needs of the state, just as you do.”
Steinmetz spoke Monday at the Arkansas Farm Bureau’s 68th annual Officers and Leaders Conference at the Northwest Arkansas Convention Center in Springdale.
Since becoming chancellor in January, Steinmetz has learned Arkansas is No. 1 nationally in rice production, No. 2 in broilers raised, No. 3 in catfish, cotton and turkey production, No. 5 in timber, No. 8 in egg production and No. 10 in soybeans and grain sorghum.
“Agriculture is the largest industry in the state,” Steinmetz said, according to a UA news release. “I greatly appreciate what you do. You keep us clothed and fed.”
Steinmetz mentioned several initiatives related to agriculture, including:
- A program that enables University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff agriculture majors to take poultry classes in the Bumpers College as seniors and earn a certificate of poultry science while completing degree requirements at UAPB. The first certificate was awarded this year.
- The Accelerated Student Achievement Program (ASAP) is being established by the U of A to serve first-generation and low-income students in the 26 Arkansas counties in the delta region.
- Bumpers College will be represented in Memphis at the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show, the South’s largest indoor farm show.
“Fulfilling the land-grant mission means supporting the state in broad ways,” Steinmetz said. “To me, that means getting more Arkansans into college and keeping them there, and getting more first-generation Arkansans into college.”
Teaching and research in agriculture were mandated by the Morrill Land Grant Act, under which the UA was founded in 1871. A college of agriculture was formed in 1905 and evolved into what is now the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.
Steinmetz also talked to the crowd about meetings with all 75 UA academic departments and centers, supporting farmers, improving graduation rates and his bus tour across the state in May.
“I wanted to get a better feel for where our students come from and where our alumni live,” he said.