Ag Technology & The Law:  Advancing American Agriculture

August 15-16, 2018

Little Rock, Arkansas


The future of American agriculture is being and will be defined by rapidly emerging technologies – big data, gene editing of plants and animals, new crop protection products, rural broadband, to name a few – that apply throughout the agricultural sector.  These technologies present many private and public sector opportunities and challenges, and raise novel legal and policy questions that must be dealt with at the state and federal levels.  Recognizing the importance of these issues to the future of American agriculture, the National Agricultural Law Center, the National Association of Attorneys General, and Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge are co-hosting Ag Technology & The Law:  Advancing American Agriculture.  The conference will bring together industry and legal experts from across the nation for a 2-day program tailored to public and private sector attorneys, industry members, students, and other professionals with an interest in legal and policy issues associated with agricultural technology.   This conference will feature 12 hours of continuing legal education, including two hours of ethics.


Program Sponsors:


The National Agricultural Law Center serves as the nation’s leading source of agricultural and food law research and information.  The Center works with producers, state and federal policymakers, Congressional staffers, attorneys, land grant universities, and many others to provide objective, nonpartisan agricultural and food law research and information to the nation’s agricultural community.  The Center is a unit of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and works in close partnership with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, National Agricultural Library.

attorney generals

The National Association of Attorneys General was founded in 1907 to help attorneys general fulfill the responsibilities of their office and to assist in the delivery of high-quality legal services to the states and territorial jurisdictions. The Association’s members are the attorneys general of the 50 states and the District of Columbia and the chief legal officers of the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico (Secretary of Justice) and the Northern Mariana Islands, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.  The Association provides a forum for the exchange of knowledge, experiences, and insights on subjects of importance to the attorneys general of the states, territories, and district. It fosters local, state, and federal engagement, cooperation, and communication on legal and law enforcement issues. It provides training, research, and analysis to members and their staffs on a wide range of subjects relevant to the practice areas of the attorneys general offices.


In addition to serving as counsel for the State of Arkansas and representing nearly 200 agencies, boards, commissions, colleges and other entities, the Office of Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge works to uphold criminal convictions and investigate and prosecute those who commit Medicaid fraud and internet crimes against children. The Attorney General’s office advocates for consumers by fighting deceptive trade practices and mediating disputes with businesses. With a priority on accessibility, resources are provided to Arkansans in all 75 counties through mobile offices, roundtable meetings and education programs on prescription drug misuse, internet safety, scams, identity theft and dating violence.


Conference Location:

Statehouse Convention Center

Wally Allen Ballroom B&C

101 E. Markham St

Little Rock, Arkansas

Conference Agenda:

Tuesday, August 14

5:30 – 7:00 — Reception at Old Statehouse Museum

Light food and beer & wine; attendees can meet before visiting downtown Little Rock.


Wednesday, August 15

7:00 – 8:00 — Registration & Breakfast
8:00 – 8:15 — Welcome from Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
8:15 – 9:15 —  Ag Tech & the Law: Landscape & Emerging Issues

Todd Janzen, Janzen Ag Law

9:15 – 10:30 – Issues for States’ Attorney General

Hon. Leslie Rutledge, Arkansas Attorney General

Justin Lavene, Nebraska Attorney General’s Office; Agriculture, Environment & Natural Resources Bureau Chief

Wes Ward, Secretary, Arkansas Department of Agriculture

Harrison Pittman, Director, National Agricultural Law Center

10:30 – 10:45 – Break

10:45– 11:45 All Data Big & Small:  Legal Issues Surrounding Agricultural Data

Dr. Shannon Ferrell, Oklahoma State University

11:45 – 1:30 Lunch (On Your Own)

1:30 – 2:45 Ag Tech Pitfalls and Barriers:  Industry Perspectives

Chris Fink, Founder & COO, Unmanned Vehicle Technologies

Megan E. Lyman, Corporate Counsel, AgTech Accelerator Corp.

Todd L. Martin, CEO, Independent Professional Seed Association

2:45 – 3:00 Break

3:00 – 4:00 Genetic Editing of Crops and Animals:  State & Federal Regulation

Thomas P. Redick, Global Environmental Ethics Counsel (GEEC), LLC

Eric Williams, Partner, Barnes & Thornburg LLP

Moderated by Andrew Varcoe, Partner, Boyden Gray and Associates

4:00 – 5:00 – Legal Ethics and Class Actions

Drew Kershen, Professor Emeritus, Earl Sneed Centennial Professor of Law Emeritus, The University of Oklahoma College of Law

6:00 – 9:00:  “Beer, BBQ, & Bluegrass” dinner reception at Riverwalk Pavilion

Featuring bluegrass by Interstate Thirty & BBQ by the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association.


Thursday, August 16

7:00 – 8:00 Registration and Breakfast

8:00 – Welcome

8:15 – 9:15  Global Theft of U.S. Ag Technology

Jennie Nichols, Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation

9:15 – 10:15  Hot Topics in Pesticide Litigation & Regulation

Karen Ellis Carr, Partner, Arent & Fox, Washington, D.C.

10:15 – 10:30 Break

10:30 – 11:30 Legal Ethics Considerations in the Ag Tech World

Mark Henry, Rose Law Firm

11:30 – 12:30 Lunch Provided

Keynote Speaker: Governor Asa Hutchinson, 46th Governor of Arkansas

12:30 – 1:45 Ag Sustainability & Ag Tech:  Blockchain and Beyond

Mark Pryor, CEO, The Seam

Kevin Igli, Senior Vice President & Chief Environmental Officer; Tyson Foods, Inc

Sam Schatz, Aerofarms, Managing Director, Corporate Development

1:45 – 3:00 State Ag Departments & Regulation of Technology

Teena Gunter, General Counsel at Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food & Forestry

Brad Deacon, Director, Office of Legal Affairs, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs

Clint Quarles, Staff Attorney, Kentucky Department of Agriculture


To register for this conference, click here.  


Attendees seeking continuing education credit: $175

Other attendees, not seeking professional credit: $125

Students: $25


Conference organizers have reserved a block of rooms at the Little Rock Marriott, which is located adjacent to the conference space.  The group rate is $109/night for single or double occupancy.  To reserve your room at the group rate, please click HERE.  The room block expires July 27, 2018 but is expected to fill earlier, so please reserve as soon as practical.

Continuing Education:

While this presentation is designed to be relevant for both attorneys and non-attorneys, it will be approved for 12 hours of general Continuing Legal Education credit including 2 hours of Ethics/Professional Education credit in Arkansas. However, many other states allow attorneys to earn credit through reciprocity or self-submission. For more information about other state accreditation requirements, the ABA has assembled a resource here.  For attorneys outside Arkansas who wish to apply for CE credit in their state, we will be happy to provide any needed documentation or materials necessary to submit to their state Bar. For any assistance needed in this regard, please contact Rachel Ellis at

If you are an employee of a state Attorney General office seeking CLE pre-approval outside of Arkansas, please contact Kiersten Houseman at  for questions in that regard.

Speaker Biographies:

Click here for biographies

Conference Materials:

Click here for materials