December 18, 2023


Arkansas, US denies financial assistance request for local poultry farmers



Wes Ward, the Agriculture Secretary for Arkansas, United States, has declined a request from State Senator Bryan King for financial assistance to farmers impacted by the abrupt closure of Cooks Venture, a poultry company, Arkansas Advocate reported.


In response to Senator King's plea for an emergency declaration, Ward said that the government's role doesn't involve assuming private debts.


Senator Bryan King, who sought a disaster declaration from Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, urged the state to provide full compensation to affected farmers, feed suppliers, and related entities facing income loss due to Cooks Venture's closure.


Cooks Venture, distinct from larger poultry corporations like Tyson Foods and Cargill, specialised in pasture-raised heirloom chickens and other meats delivered directly to customers' homes.


Despite the company's financial challenges, Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward said that the state can't assume responsibility solely based on financial troubles, and providing full compensation extends beyond appropriate state action.


In his letter to the governor, Senator King referenced a precedent set by former Governor Asa Hutchinson, who allocated US$20 million in 2019 to address a stump dump fire in Bella Vista.


Secretary Ward stressed that while agriculture is Arkansas' leading industry, supporting a company due to financial struggles contradicts the values of maintaining free and fair markets.


Arkansas holds a prominent position in broiler production, ranking third in the US and contributing significantly to the state's economy. In 2021, the state produced 7.46 billion pounds of poultry meat valued at US$3.97 billion.


-      Arkansas Advocate

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