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Local & Regional News
As the United States works to improve relations with Cuba, Arkansas lawmakers are working to seize the opportunity to improve the state's agricultural economy.  Here are stories related to where Arkansas, especially Eastern Arkansas, fits into to this historic national move.

Top Legal Concerns in Agriculture Addressed at Agri Law Conference

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Dealing with a downturn in the agricultural economy is the big topic of discussion at the third annual Agricultural and Environmental Law Conference.

Conference spokesman and National Agricultural Law Center Director Harrison Pittman says Mid-South agriculture is uniquely impacted by changes in state, federal, & international policies.  He says the goal is to bring awareness to how those changes affect the industry.

Pittman said even though the economy will be the main topic of discussion, handling and preparing for an ag bankruptcy will also be an issue of focus.

"That's a tough issue for anybody to have to deal with that's increasingly becoming an issue," Pittman said.  "If we have another year similar to the last two years, it's going to even increase more."

Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward is the keynote speaker at the conference.  He will be giving an update on trading with Cuba which he says ties into one of the challenges farmers face. 

"In Arkansas, we export about 30% of our production, so the global market is very important," Ward said.  

He said when trading with Cuba opens, it could increase the demand for goods with very limited supplies.  The demand could cause prices to go up.

Secretary Ward said other issues, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Waters of the United States ruling, which are affecting production costs and prices are topics that may also be brought up at the conference.

The conference will be held this Thursday and Friday in Memphis, TN.  

Learn more about the conference here.