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By Fred Miller U of A System Division of AgricultureApril 17, 2017
(521 words) (A MS Word version of this story can be downloaded here.)
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — In any given crop year, success depends on a triangular relationship
between farmers/landowners, agricultural lenders and agricultural lawyers, said Harrison
Pittman, director of the National Agricultural Law Center at the University of Arkansas
System Division of Agriculture.
When the agricultural economy is down, as it has been for about three years now, friction
can develop between the three vertices of the triangle, Pittman said.
That relationship was complicated by the 2014 Farm Bill, Pittman said, in which direct
payments were eliminated. Under past farm bills, those direct payments were often
used as collateral for farm loans. Their elimination in 2014 was of little concern
so long as the agricultural economy was up and crop prices were good, he said.
“But now we’re in the third year of a downward trend in crop prices,” Pittman said,
“and lenders have to reexamine and restruction how loans are made.”
Agricultural lenders want to avoid foreclosures, Pittman said. “They want their clients
to keep farming,” he said.
How to cope with those critical agricultural lending relationships in a down economy
will be one of the topics of the Fourth Annual Mid-South Agricultural and Environmental
Law Conference June 8-9 in Memphis.
Greg Cole, president and CEO of AgHeritage Farm Credit Services, will address changes
his company has had to make in a down economy and issues ag lenders face because of
it. In the same session, agricultural attorney Jeff Peterson of St. Cloud, Minnesota,
will address related legal issues.
“We’re trying to present practical information that conference attendees will find
useful for themselves and their clients,” Pittman said.
Another hot topic of the conference will be land use and environmental issues, Pittman
said. Laws dealing with such issues as endangered species and land conservation affect
how farmers and landowners can use their land.
Any economic activity that is determined to to affect endangered species or natural
resources may require the landowner to take mitigating action, Pittman said. A wildlife
habitat may have to be preserved or a wetlands moved.
These laws often provide compensation for landowners who take such mitigating steps,
Pittman said. But the outcome may not always benefit the landowner. “Sometimes it’s
a plus, sometimes it’s a minus,” he said.
Endangered species and natural resource regulations were more prominently enforced
during President Obama’s administration, Pittman said. He added that it remains to
be seen how such issues will be addressed under President Trump’s administration.
A panel will provide an update on agricultural and environmental laws affecting farmers
and landowners in the Mid-South region. Among the speakers will be Rusty Rumley, senior
staff attorney for the National Agricultural Law Center, University of Arkansas System
Division of Agriculture.
Ranch and estate planning will also be a topic of discussion at the conference.
The conference opens at 6:30 p.m. June 8 with a reception at The Rendezvous Restaurant,
52 S. Second Street in Memphis. Onsite registration begins at 7:30 a.m. June 9 at
at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, and the conference
begins with welcome and announcements at 8 a.m.
More information, including a full agenda and online registration, is available online:
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex,
gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital
or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and
is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
# # #
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) firstname.lastname@example.org