Ag researchers get $1M poultry grant
Researchers from the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station of the the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture have received a $1 million grant to research and develop robots to assist in poultry processing, according to a Friday news release.
The project's principal investigator is Dongyi Wang, assistant professor of biological and agricultural engineering. He'll be assisted by Wan Shou assistant professor of engineering at the university, along with industrial engineering professor Yu She at Perdue University.
The project is funded by the National Science Foundation's National Robotics Initiative 3.0 and the United States Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
"We are trying to explore the opportunities and to see how automation can help the agriculture industry and the food industry," Wang said in a statement.
The four-year project aims to develop a robotic system to hang raw chicken, one of the few steps in modern poultry processing that's not automated and requires human workers, according to the release.
The Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station's Casey Owens, Novus International professor of poultry science, and Philip Crandall, professor of food science, will assist with the research.
-- John Magsam
$200M available for specialty crops plan
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency is making up to $200 million available through the Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops program to help small-scale specialty crop growers obtain or renew an on-farm food safety certification.
The program as part of a larger effort to help smaller growers, particularly those affected by the pandemic.
The program will reimburse farmers to cover a percentage of the expenses related to the safety certification process.
Covered costs include assistance to develop a food safety plan for first-time certification, maintaining or updating food safety plans, food safety certification costs, certification upload fees, training and microbiological testing for water, soil amendments and products.
Applications for the program for certain costs in 2022 are due Jan. 31.
The USDA's Farm Service Agency will take applications for 2023 costs from Feb. 1 through Jan. 31, 2024.
For more information on how to apply, visit the USDA's website at https://bit.ly/3XMzhIE.
-- Cristina LaRue
Bank OZK pushes state index higher
The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, closed Friday at 810.38, up 3.85.
Shares of Bank OZK rose 7.4%.
The index was developed by Bloomberg News and the Democrat-Gazette with a base value of 100 as of Dec. 30, 1997.