On Sept. 30, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the appointment of members to the Arkansas State Plant Board. The appointments fill positions left vacant under the Arkansas State Supreme Court ruling earlier this year and fills new seats established under Act 361 of 2021.
Act 361, which took effect July 28, established a new process for nominating and appointing members to serve on the board and resulted in the removal of nine board members. The new appointments must be approved by the Arkansas Senate. Once approved, the Plant Board will have a quorum and be able to resume the business pending before the board. Since the supreme court ruling, the board has not met due to a lack of a quorum.
“The Plant Board is one of the most significant commissions for Arkansas agriculture, and I am confident this first-rate slate of new members will ensure Arkansas agriculture remains number one,” Hutchinson said.
Act 361 increased the number of board members from 17 to 19. Two of the 19 are nonvoting members designated by the vice president for agriculture of the University of Arkansas. Eight are nominated by agricultural associations and appointed by the governor. Nine are appointed by the governor. The Act also made other adjustments to the board positions, including the addition of two new row crop farmer seats and the consolidation of the horticulture and nursery positions into one joint seat.
The new members are:
- Matthew Marsh, Cammack Village: Practical rice grower, actively and principally engaged in the production of rice. Marsh has served on the board since 2017. He will serve as the board’s new chairman.
- Mark Morgan, Clarksville: Practical horticulturist or nurseryman, actively and principally engaged in the business. Nominated by the Arkansas State Horticultural Society and the Arkansas Green Industry Association.
- David Gammill, Tyronza: Practical corn, peanut, sorghum, turf, or wheat grower, actively and principally engaged in the production of corn, peanuts, sorghum, turf, or wheat.
- Matt Miles, McGehee: Practical soybean grower, actively and principally engaged in the production of soybeans.
- Mark Hopper, Mountain Home: Representing pest control operators. Nominated by the Arkansas Pest Management Association.
- Marty Eaton, Jonesboro: Seed dealer, actively and principally engaged in the business. Nominated by the Arkansas Seed Dealers’ Association.
- Lance Schmidt, Pocahontas: Seed grower, actively and principally engaged in the business. Nominated by the Arkansas Seed Growers Association. Schmidt replaces Terry Fuller of Phillips County who had been the board’s chairman until the Supreme Court ruling.
- Lester Scott, Little Rock: Representing pesticide manufacturers. Nominated by the Arkansas Crop Protection Association. Replaces Brad Koen as representative of the pesticide companies. According to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Scott stands to be the first Black person to serve on the board.
- Mark Hartz, Stuttgart: Representing agricultural aviators. Nominated by the Arkansas Agricultural Aviation Association. Hartz replaces Tommy Anderson of Jefferson County.
- Richard Watts, Watson: Representing the forest sector. Nominated by the Arkansas Forestry Association. Watts replaces Scott Milburn of El Dorado.
- Nathan Reed, Marianna: Farmer, actively and principally engaged in the production of corn, cotton, peanuts, rice, sorghum, soybeans, turf, or wheat.
- Travis Senter, Osceola: Farmer, actively and principally engaged in the production of corn, cotton, peanuts, rice, sorghum, soybeans, turf, or wheat.
- Reynold Meyer, Eudora: Practical livestock producer, actively and principally engaged in the production of livestock.
- Bruce Alford, Lewisville: Practical forage grower, actively and principally engaged in the production of forage
Once approved by the Senate, terms for all appointees would expire Oct. 1, 2023.
Two previous appointees of the governor — Sam Stuckey of Crittenden County, representing cotton farmers, and Darrell Hess of Wynne, representing the plant food industry — are in the middle of their terms and will continue to serve. Their terms expire March 17, 2022.
The Agriculture Division’s nonvoting members on the board are Ken Korth and Nathan Slayton.