Farming is becoming increasingly complex. That is true not only in the field but when producers must address legal issues and comply with environmental regulations.
For the second year, the Mid-South will host a meeting that will delve into many aspects of agriculture-related law. On April 17, The Mid-South Agricultural and Environmental Law Conference will be held at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. The meeting will be hosted by the Agricultural & Food Law Consortium and is co-sponsored by Delta Farm Press.
How did last year’s conference turn out?
“The meeting was very successful and we were pleased with the turnout and feedback,” says Harrison Pittman, director of The National Ag Law Center at the University of Arkansas. “There was a lot of encouragement to have another.
“The idea behind it is to a conference on agricultural and environmental law issues that are of practical relevance for the Mid-South. This isn’t a conference that’s esoteric -- it’s intended to be simply practical and educational primarily for attorneys but also for other ag professionals and students. This is a great opportunity to network for Mid-South ag lenders, CPAs, real estate agents.”
Last year, the conference was a joint effort between the National Ag Law Center and the Sea Grant Law Center (at the University of Mississippi). “We’ve since expanded our partnerships to the creation of the Agricultural and Food Law Consortium. That’s a four university partnership bringing in an additional two members: the Agricultural Law Reference and Resource Center (at Penn State University) and the Ohio State University Agricultural Law and Resource Center. Fortunately, the consortium was funded in part through a grant from the USDA-ARS.”
This year’s conference will provide CLE (Continuing Legal Education) credits for Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. If attorneys from other states want to come, “we’ll work with them to get those credits approved.”
Pittman says organizers are working to ensure no overlapping, repeat sessions. “I reached out and talked to quite a few people to get feedback on what needs to be covered and the agenda is, we believe, worthwhile for attendees.”
Among the topics and speakers:
- “Agricultural & Environmental Law Update: Recent Trends and Developments” with Stephanie Showalter Otts, Director, National Sea Grant Law Center; Peggy Kirk Hall, Director, Agricultural & Resource Law Program, The Ohio State University; Ross Pifer, Director, Clinical Professor of Law and Director, Agricultural Law Resource & Reference Center, Penn State Law; and Rusty Rumley, Senior Staff Attorney, National Agricultural Law Center, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
“This will involve a panel discussion among the consortium leaders,” says Pittman. “It’s intended to be ‘Hey, here’s what’s happened since last year and here’s what to be watching for in the coming year.’ Then, there will be a Q and A session to make sure the audience has a good overview.”
- “2014 Farm Bill for Practitioners, Lenders, and Other Ag Professionals” with Anne Hazlett, Republican Chief Counsel, United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry; and Greg Cole, President and Chief Operating Officer, AgHeritage Farm Credit Services.
“This panel includes Ann Hazlett, a top attorney working with the Senate Agriculture Committee. She’s been on the Hill for many years and has worked for lawmakers like (Kansas) Sen. Pat Roberts, (Mississippi) Sen. Thad Cochran and (Georgia) Sen. Saxby Chambliss. She’s very, very knowledgeable on farm bills and their implementation.
“Greg will bring in the lender perspective on things.
“We’re less concerned with a comprehensive take on the new farm bill. Instead, we’ll pull out the relevant parts to the ag industry in the Mid-South.”
- ”USDA National Appeals Division 101: What you and your farm client need to know” with Amanda Urbanek, Deputy Assistant Director, USDA-National Appeals Division, Southern Region.
“This topic is a big deal for attorneys, especially. Amanda will address the appeals process for a host of USDA programs. At times, that can also include crop insurance under the Risk Management Agency. We’re very fortunate Amanda has agreed to speak.”
- “Farm succession and estate planning for Mid-South agriculture” with Robert Serio, Serio & Bishop (Clarendon, Ark.) and Stan Miller, McChain, Miller, & Nissman (Little Rock, Ark.).
“Robert and Stan are well known in agriculture circles and will bring an unparalleled knowledge on how best to set yourself up for the future. How to deal with partnership setups? This is very important for farms and farming families.”
- “Ethical considerations for farm clients” with John Dillard, Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC.
“This is always important and tries to keep up with ethics concerns as laws change and the landscape shifts.”
- “Easement Negotiation 101: Focus on gas pipelines and energy transmission lines” with Peggy Kirk Hall and Ross Pifer.
“These two speakers have a great background in the area of easements. We’re hearing more and more about this with the introduction of more green energy and the like. There are a lot of questions about eminent domain. What can be done if someone wants to put a pipeline across your property? The best ways to approach negotiations? What can you ask for?”
The meeting will kick off at 8:15 a.m. and end at 4:00 p.m. The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law in located at 1 North Front Street in Memphis.