LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson will be the keynote speaker for the national ag law/tech conference scheduled Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 15-16, at the Statehouse Convention Center at Little Rock.

“Ag Technology and the Law: Advancing American Agriculture” is co-sponsored by the National Agricultural Law Center, National Association of Attorneys General and Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

The governor will speak during the luncheon Aug. 16 at 11:30 a.m.

“With his emphasis on coding in education and his initiative on blockchain use in our food supply, Gov. Hutchinson will bring a real world perspective on technology to the conference,” said Harrison Pittman, director of the National Agricultural Law Center, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

“We’re honored to have the governor as part of this national platform, highlighting the importance of ag tech to agriculture in Arkansas and the nation,” Pittman said in the release.

The conference offers 12 hours of continuing legal education, including two hours of ethics, for attorneys.

“When I became co-chair of NAAG’s Agriculture Committee three years ago, I envisioned Arkansas hosting a first-rate legal education program for state Attorneys General staff, state regulatory staff and others focused on agricultural law,” Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said. “This partnership between NAAG and the National Agricultural Law Center is the perfect vehicle to bring legal experts together to provide unparalleled educational opportunities for the legal community, not just in Arkansas, but across the country.”

The agenda includes:

Wednesday, Aug. 15

8 a.m. — Welcome from Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge; 8:15 a.m. — Ag Tech & the Law: Landscape & Emerging Issues, Todd Janzen, Janzen Ag Law;

9:15 a.m. – Issues for States’ Attorney General — Rutledge; Curtis Hill, Indiana Attorney General; Doug Peterson, Nebraska Attorney General; Wes Ward, Secretary, Arkansas Department of Agriculture; and moderator Harrison Pittman, director, National Agricultural Law Center.

10:45 a.m. — All Data Big & Small: Legal Issues Surrounding Agricultural Data — Shannon Ferrell, Oklahoma State University;

11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. lunch;

1:30 p.m. — Ag Tech Pitfalls and Barriers: Industry Perspectives — Chris Fink, Founder & COO, Unmanned Vehicle Technologies; John Dombrosky, CEO, AgTech Accelerator; Todd L. Martin, Independent Professional Seed Association;

3 p.m. — Genetic Editing of Crops and Animals: State & Federal Regulation — Thomas P. Redick, Global Environmental Ethics Counsel, LLC; Eric Williams, partner, Barnes & Thornburg LLP; Moderated by Andrew Varcoe, partner, Boyden Gray and Associates;

4 p.m. — Legal Ethics and Class Actions — Drew Kershen, Professor Emeritus, Earl Sneed Centennial Professor of Law Emeritus, The University of Oklahoma College of Law.

Thursday, August 16

8:15 a.m. — Global Theft of U.S. Ag Technology — Jennie Nichols, Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation; 9:15 a.m. Hot Topics in Pesticide Litigation & Regulation — Karen Ellis Carr, Partner, Arent & Fox, Washington, D.C.;

10:30 a.m. — Legal Ethics Considerations in the Ag Tech World — Mark Henry, Rose Law Firm;

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. lunch with keynote speaker: Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

12:30 p.m. — Ag Sustainability & Ag Tech: Blockchain and Beyond — Mark Pryor, CEO, The Seam; Kevin Igli, Senior Vice President & Chief Environmental Officer; Tyson Foods, Inc.

1:45 p.m. — 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; Michele Dias, General Counsel, California Department of Food and Agriculture.

For details and registration, visit

— Mary Hightower is director of Communication Services at the U of A System Division of Agriculture.