University of Maryland Extension

Experts discuss Agriculture Policy at Annual Conference

Image Credit: 
Edwin Remsberg

Agricultural law has grown far more complex than maintaining a simple relationship between farmers and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), according to Harrison Pittman, Director of the National Agricultural Law Center at the University of Arkansas, one of nine speakers at the 14th Annual Agricultural Outlook and Policy Conference on December 4, 2013.

Sponsored by the University of Maryland Center for Agricultural & Natural Resource Policy, the conference also included presentations by agricultural experts from the University of Maryland, Maryland Department of Agriculture, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the National Agricultural Law Center.

In his remarks, Mr. Pittman suggested that the relationship between agriculture and the law has expanded in scope to include relationships with the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Homeland Security, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Transportation. In addition, the USDA has also developed the USDA’s Risk Management Agency, Farm Service Agency, and National Resources Conservation Service as agencies that have become essential to agriculture.

He emphasized that it is important for the legal community to view agriculture for all of its component parts, and the need for knowledge of the law and legal assistance will continue to grow for the agricultural community as political demands and consumer pressures push through new regulations. Because of the multifaceted nature of modern agriculture, Mr. Pittman stated that agriculture and law will soon be entering unchartered waters that will only serve to greatly increase the interactions between the two fields.

The most pressing future issues for agricultural enterprises, according to Mr. Pittman, will be the relationship between the producer, landowner, and lender; particularly the issues of labor and immigration. To that end, the goal of the University of Maryland Agriculture Law Education Initiative is to identify and make accessible to the Maryland agricultural community those new laws and regulations which directly affect them. Furthermore, the Initiative has and will continue to address the increasingly complex and diverse legal needs of Maryland farmers through the publication of educational legal resources available to all members of Maryland’s agricultural community.

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