Richard Bell Stepping Down As State Agriculture Secretary

Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Richard Bell is leaving his post June 30.

In a letter to Gov. Mike Beebe, "Bell says he is leaving because he has accomplished the work he set out to do when appointed seven years ago, and due to health reasons," the governor's office said in a news release.
 Bell is 78, the governor's office said.

"Dick Bell has provided steady leadership for the Arkansas Agriculture Department since its inception and through two administrations," Beebe said in the release. "We'll miss him, and I thank Dick for his service on behalf of all Arkansans, but especially Arkansas farmers and ranchers."

The Arkansas Agriculture Board, after the Arkansas Legislature created the state Agriculture Department in 2005, appointed Bell to lead the department. Bell previously had been president and CEO of Riceland Foods Inc. of Stuttgart. He also worked in international affairs for the United States Department of Agriculture.


Beebe plans to make a recommendation on Bell's replacement to the Agriculture Board. The board will name the replacement, who then must be confirmed by Beebe, the governor's office said.

Bell, named in 2009 among Arkansas Business' 25 Living Legends, has a long history of government service. He spent almost 20 years in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He also spent 25 years at Riceland Foods, building the 9,000-member, five-state cooperative into the world's largest miller and marketer of rice. The co-op also became a top 10 U.S. grain company and a major Mid-South soybean processor.