Location: Fayetteville, Ark.
Director: Harrison Pittman
History: “An important thrust of President Roosevelt’s New Deal during the Great Depression was to supply income support for farmers through various programs. He believed helping farmers helped the country recover. Many changes occurred through the years,” director Harrison Pittman, who has held the position since 2007, explained. “The National Agricultural Law Center was established in 1987 against the backdrop of the 1980s farm crisis. Farmers, lawyers, bankers and others were confused by many of the unique agricultural laws and programs. Sen. Dale Bumpers was convinced of the need to create an institution that could be an objective resource for the nation’s agricultural community. As chair of the Senate Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee, Bumpers took the lead on establishing the center. Since that time, the center has served as the nation’s leading source of agricultural and food law research and information. Some states, such as Arkansas and Mississippi, were especially suited for program assistance.”
Services: “We serve producers of all commodities and sizes, attorneys and policymakers, as well as local and national agricultural organizations,” Harrison said. “To promote understanding, we speak, host and sometimes sponsor conferences, workshops and informational meetings. Attendees include congressional staff members, trade and commodity groups and producers. While we offer a variety of printed material, our main form of outreach is through our website. It contains a daily update, as well as an extensive reading room with each article directed toward a specific audience: attorneys, non-attorneys, experts and novices. Our staff currently includes two senior staff attorneys, one staff attorney whose specialty is environmental law, a communications director and 19 research fellows. The research fellows are law students, spread throughout the United States with each working on a different project such as an annual review of Federal Crop Insurance case law and a 50-state survey of pesticide drift state law. Examples of how we can help are aiding in the understanding of the legal aspects of agricultural tourism, fencing issues and pick-your-own berries enterprises.”
Future: “We will continue to expand and better serve stakeholders throughout the U.S. by increasing our visibility. We want every member of the vast agricultural community to know who we are and what we do. Later this year, we will move into new dedicated office space as part of the Don Tyson Agricultural Sciences Building. This move will centralize our offices with the University of Arkansas System and more efficiently coordinate our efforts.”