The Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame will induct five individuals – including one from Nashville – whose leadership and service have brought distinction to the state’s largest business sector.The newest class includes forester Allen Bedell of Hot Springs, former state senator Neely Cassady of Nashville, rice farmer Gary Sebree of Stuttgart, poultry company executive Mark Simmons of Siloam Springs, and the late Bobby Wells, a renowned plant breeder who developed many varieties of rice that have positively impacted the state’s farmers.
The group will be honored at the 29th annual induction luncheon, set for 11:30 a.m. on March 3 at Little Rock’s Embassy Suites Hotel.
“What a great cross-section of Arkansas agriculture to be selected for the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame,” said Butch Calhoun of Des Arc, chairman of the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame committee and former Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture. “The collective impact of these five are felt in every part of our state.
“I have said this before, and it bears repeating; agriculture is one of the great success stories of our state. What a privilege to see these great advocates of agriculture be recognized.”
Cassady was a driving force for the poultry industry in southwest Arkansas, taking over his father’s hatchery at the age of 18 and expanding it into a vertically integrated poultry company. He built and sold two such companies that continue today as part of Pilgrim’s and Tyson Foods. He was elected to the Arkansas Senate in 1982 and served the people of southwest Arkansas for 14 years, where he was a staunch advocate for agricultural issues. Cassady was president of the Arkansas Poultry Federation (1973-74), on the Tyson Foods board of directors (1974-2001), and a long-time member of the Central Baptist College board of trustees. He was presented the Poultry Pioneer award by the University of Arkansas, given a lifetime achievement award from the Nashville