Ag Hall inductees made their mark on state’s largest industry

24th annual luncheon set for March 9 at Little Rock Embassy Suites

LITTLE ROCK — Five men who spent the better part of their lives advancing agriculture in Arkansas will be recognized for their contributions to the state’s largest industry with induction into the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame.

They will be honored at the 24th annual induction luncheon, 11:30 a.m., March 9 in the Ambassador Ballroom of Little Rock’s Embassy Suites Hotel. Luncheon tickets are $35 each and are available by calling (501) 228-1470.

The inductees are Dr. Lionel Barton of Fayetteville (Washington County), Abraham Carpenter Sr. of Grady (Lincoln County), the late Jon S. Fitch of Hindsville (Madison County), the late Stanley E. Reed of Marianna (Lee County), and Howarth Erwin Taylor of Hickory Ridge (Cross County).

During his 28-year career as a poultry specialist with the Cooperative Extension Service, Barton developed a comprehensive poultry education program at the University of Arkansas and was instrumental in the development of the school’s Poultry Center of Excellence. He credits his many colleagues in Extension and within the Animal Science department for this recognition.

“Being housed on the campus here in Fayetteville so many things come up you don’t know the answer to but you have co-workers who know the answers,” Barton says. “This award, I’d certainly like to share it with my co-workers at Extension and here on the campus. It’s really an honor for me and very much appreciated.”

Abraham Carpenter Sr. and his wife Katie began growing produce at their home in Grady more than 50 years ago. They raised five sons and three daughters who all live on the farm and work in the family business, Carpenter Produce. His son, Abraham, Jr. is farm manager and says keeping the family together is what his dad is most proud of.

“Like I always tell people mom and dad didn’t have a whole lot of education but they got a PhD in common sense and they knew how to keep the family together,” Abraham, Jr. says. “I think the thing he’s most proud of is he was able to provide a living for his family and give others an opportunity to have gainful employment. The fact God enabled him to do that I think is his greatest achievement.”

A life-long Madison County cattleman, Jon Fitch served 24 years in the state legislature, (six years in the House of Representatives, 18 years in the Senate).

In 2007 Governor Mike Beebe appointed him as director of the Livestock and Poultry Commission, a position he held until his death in February, 2011. His top legislative achievement was passage of the Brucellosis Eradication Act in 1985, which eventually led to the elimination of the cattle disease in 1997. His son Jeff says his dad just enjoyed helping others.

“He truly enjoyed being out there as a public servant and as a farmer,” Jeff says. “Anyone he came across he felt needed help or guidance he would willingly offer it. He’d go to bat for just about anybody and stood up for people that wouldn’t have a voice otherwise. He did that for his family, his constituents and for farmers. He just enjoyed helping people and I will always admire him for that.”

Stanley Reed was passionate about agriculture and spent his life advocating for it through the numerous leadership positions he held prior to his death in July, 2011. Chief among them were as president of Arkansas Farm Bureau for five years and 10 years as a member of the University of Arkansas board of trustees. His widow Charlene says her husband developed a love of the land as a boy and never lost it.

“Even though he went to law school … agriculture was a passion he never gave up,” Mrs. Reed says. “He could have been an engineer, could have been a lawyer but his gut-love, his passion, was agriculture. He wanted to serve his fellow farmers and ranchers and make agriculture better because his heart was a love for the land.”

Howarth Taylor will be 91-years-old March 11, two days following his induction. His wife, Ella, is very appreciative of the recognition for her husband. She says he made it his mission to grow and provide crop farmers with the cleanest, best-quality seed he could.

“He was real particular about the quality of the seed he produced,” Mrs. Taylor says. “We would always be the last ones harvesting because he had to tear down the combines and totally clean them, the trucks and grain buggies. He had a good name in the industry and worked hard to deserve that.”

The Agriculture Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and Arkansas Farm Bureau. It honors those who have made significant contributions to Arkansas agriculture, as well as community and economic development.


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