Almost 50 years ago, Congress established a unique program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture that empowered rural people to help themselves. The USDA focus was to assist local people by providing tools and technical support to stabilize and grow their own communities while protecting and developing natural resources. In return , local "Councils" provide local direction and planning and coordinate implementation of specific projects within their boundaries.
ARC&D is a local grass roots organization whose leadership comes from its sponsors, Conservation Districts and Local units of Government. The decision making body, called a Council, determines the social, economic, and environmental problems and issues relevant to the area. The Council then develops and implements a plan with local citizens in leadership. The RC&D concept is that local communities, all levels of government, and grassroots organizations, working together, can develop and implement solutions to widespread and local problems and develop opportunities that will help sustain rural communities, local economies, and natural resources.
ARC&D serves as a catalyst for local groups to share knowledge and resources in a collective effort to solve common problems.
The combination of local leadership and coordination of state and federal resources is an efficient and effective way for communities to cooperatively support and achieve local goal. This focus on local direction and control has made RC&D one of the most successful rural development efforts in the country.
There are 7 Resource Conservation and Development areas which cover the entire state of Arkansas.
The Secretary of Agriculture provides a full time ARC&D Coordinator to help the councils find various resources needed to plan and implement specific actions desired for the area.