WHITE HALL – With more than 300 farmers there, it was a full room at White Hall Community Center last week for the third annual Simmons Agri Summit.


Farmers from Lonoke and Pulaski counties were among those in attendance at the meeting that was sponsored by Simmons Bank.


They heard from a diverse set of speakers that ranged from white-shoe lawyer David Bridgforth, who was there to discuss the upcoming farm bill in Washington along with the current dysfunction there and Jay Mahaffey, with Monsanto, and David Kohl with AgriVisions.


Kohl was the keynote speaker and covered a wide range of topics related to farming.


“One in five dollars come from exports, so when you start looking at cotton and soybeans, you see they are very critical to economic development,” he told the crowd.


Cotton was also the mind of Mahaffey.


“I know there’s some hard feelings about [boll] weevil eradication,” he said. “But in my opinion eradicating weevils allowed cotton to be bred that couldn’t have been done before.”


Another kind of Cotton, as in Arkansas’s junior United States Senator Tom, was in Bridgforth comments.


“He supports revoking current farm law,” Bridgforth said. “That would be very bad [to farmers] if that happened.”


Bridgforth added Congress is debating the disaster relief bill and his hope was that a resolution would be forthcoming.


“Farmers need the relief,” he said.


Freddie Black, the Arkansas Regional Chairman for Simmons Bank, said its sponsorship of the summit was because of the importance of agriculture in the communities the bank serves.


“The agriculture summit is a way to grow our business and help our farmers to do better,” he said and added, “agriculture is a big part of our business.”


Underlining the importance of the summits Simmons CEO and Chairman George Makris Jr., was among those in attendance.