Key Issues Update

Ballot Initiatives  

Issue 1: Continuing Sales Tax for Surface Transportation Projects  

  • Currently, Arkansans are paying one-half percent (.5%) – or half a cent – sales and use tax for the purpose of funding infrastructure projects across the state.  
  • Issue 1 is simply a continuation of current law, paying half a cent sales tax. 
  • Without this funding, our rural counties and communities stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Issue 2: The Arkansas Term Limits Amendment  

  • Issue 2 amends the Arkansas Constitution to allow state legislators, both in the House and Senate, to serve 12 consecutive years and allow the legislator to stand for reelection after a four-year absence.  
  • This is identical to Arkansas Farm Bureau policy (Government 157, #25).  

Issue 3: Changing the Citizen-Initiated Ballot Issue Process  

  • Amends the process for the submission, challenge, and approval of proposed initiated acts, constitutional amendments, and referenda.  
  • Issue 3 strengthens the criteria for initiatives to be on the General Election day by mandating additional counties to be included in the collection process of signatures, streamlining cutoff dates, and increasing the number of votes needed by the General Assembly to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot. 
  • Specifically, valid signatures for a citizen initiative must come from 45 counties instead of the current 15. 


Remember, YES on 1, 2, 3 and NO on all the rest.


Rural Broadband

Broadband is critical to our state’s agricultural business community and many farmers and ranchers are currently unserved or underserved, however with the current resources available, there is an opportunity to provide quality broadband across the state and increase the productivity of farming operations statewide.

Arkansas ranks 48th in the nation for broadband coverage. COVID-19 and the shutdown of our education system, economy, and the altering of how healthcare is provided through telemedicine, has only painfully increased the divide between Arkansas with access to reliable internet and those who cannot access reliable internet. Recognizing this fact, advances have been made to assist rural Arkansans. The state has developed the Rural Broadband ID program, which would assist rural communities with a planning grant in order to prepare an application for federal dollars, located at USDA, to deploy broadband to rural communities. The current application process is complicated and tedious. However, the Rural Broadband ID grant program will provide county judges, and other officials, located in rural, underserved areas, the ability to compete for federal dollars to provide communities with the internet services they desperately need. 

While a good first step, this program is not funded in the ongoing state budget (and is only currently funded with $2 million in one-time money). There are millions of dollars available at the federal level, but only for those who can navigate the complex federal grant application process.

Broadband programs

Rural Broadband I.D. Expenses Trust Fund Grant

  • Funds to cover costs for broadband development in rural communities are available for qualifying towns, cities, and counties to extend broadband internet access 
  • Applications are awarded through the State of Arkansas and managed by UAMS Institute for Digital Health & Innovation, will be accepted on an until funds are exhausted
  • Grantees will conduct these studies in preparation for federal grant and loan applications for broadband development programs

Click here for more information on this grant program.

For questions regarding the Rural Broadband I.D. Expenses Trust Fund Grant Program, please email IDHI@uams.edu or call 855-234-3348.

AR Rural Connect (ARC)

  • The ARC program will distribute at least $4.7 million in grants to partnerships between localities and internet service providers
  • Applications can be submitted until all funds are expended-The CARES Act requires that the infrastructure must be deployed prior to December 30, 2020

Click here for more information on Rural Connect.

For questions regarding Arkansas Rural Connect, broadband coverage, or federal broadband grants, please contact Clint Moore at 501-682-5917 or email broadband@arkansas.gov.

For questions regarding the American Connection Project Broadband Coalition, please contact Tina May at 202-384-7478 or email at tmay@landolakes.com.

Reconnect Loan and Grant Program

  • USDA will make up to $200 million for grants, up to $200 million for 50/50 grant/loan combinations, and up to $200 million for low-interest loans
  • This program will generate private sector investment to deploy broadband infrastructure to provide high-speed internet e-Connectivity to as many rural premises as possible
  • The ReConnect Program offers unique federal financing and funding options in the form of loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in areas of rural America that don’t currently have sufficient access to broadband

Click here for more information on this program.

For questions regarding the Reconnect Loan and Grant Program, please contact Steven Mosher at 870-754-9352 or email steve.mosher@usda.gov.

Arkansas Meat and Poultry Processing Grant Program

Background Information

  • On August 21, 2020, the Arkansas Department of Ag launched the application for the Arkansas Meat and Poultry Processing Grant Program. 
  • This is a $5 million grant program from the $1.25 billion provided to Arkansas through the CARES Act.
  • The grant is available for existing facilities as well as new construction projects, with 200 or less employees. 
  • All facilities must provide proof of their federal grant of inspection or application of federal grant of inspection or equivalent status.
  • Tthere is a 90/10 cost share reimbursement provision, meaning facilities can receive reimbursement of up to 90% for capital costs and improvements. 

Timeline 
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture will accept applications beginning on August 21, 2020 and will receive applications through September 30, 2020. 

  • August 21, 2020:  Applications and guidelines made available 
  • September 30, 2020:  Last day to submit an application 
  • October 5, 2020:  Applicants notified of acceptance or denial 
  • November 30, 2020:  Last day that eligible expenses may be incurred for reimbursement 
  • December 15, 2020:  Deadline for all expenditure and reimbursement documentation to be submitted to the Department 

More information and the grant application can be found here.

Download this USDA document for additional information.


Consultant contact:

Derek Schroeder | Processing and Kill Floor Equipment Specialist | UltraSource LLC |1414 West 29th Street | Kansas City, MO 64108-3604 USA

(O): 816.360.2009 | 800.777.5624, Ext. 2009 | Derek.Schroeder@UltraSourceUSA.com |


HACCP/SOP examples and protocol information can be accessed here.