Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Ag Law LL.M. Experience

One of the great luxuries of being in an academic setting is the ability, no, the mandate, to approach issues openly with an eye toward the big picture.

Unlike my years in private practice where I diligently fought for the interests of my particular agricultural clients, and unlike my work for advocacy organizations where I joined with others in support of a cause, I view my role as Director of the LL.M. Program in Agricultural Law differently. Now, my task is to explore every issue from all sides and to explore as many of those "sides" as possible with the LL.M. candidates.

So, as we consider applications for the LL.M. Program for 2008-2009, we actively seek applicants with a wide range of interest and perspective. We will always have, and we will always respect those applicants from a farm background; those attorneys who, but for circumstance, may well wish that they were planting or harvesting something instead of sitting in a law school classroom. On most days, I would probably fit into that group myself. But, we also welcome those who may not be from a farm, but who nonetheless care about where their food comes from. Their focus may be an interest in farm policy, an interest in food systems, or concern about food safety. Or, it may come from an interest in natural resources and the environment. Bringing these groups together to discuss and debate legal issues concerning food and agriculture is one of the most exciting aspects of my position and one of the greatest aspects of our agricultural law program. For information about applying to the program, send me an email at

And, for a somewhat related discussion of the intersection of food law and agricultural law, visit the aglaw blog posting, Thoughts on Food & Agriculture.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Winter Hits "the Farm"

A more personal note today - LL.M. candidates, alumni, colleagues and friends will often hear me reference "the farm." Of course, I am referring to my family's farm - a third generation homestead and 320 acre farm in southern Minnesota. This farm, and the traditions that I grew up with, formed the basis for my first connection to agricultural law. As my experience in agricultural law expanded through work with farmers, with other attorneys and scholars, and with the consumers that our farmers serve, my understanding and appreciation for agriculture has grown in depth and complexity. But, always in the back of my mind is "the farm."
So with this thought in mind, while I enjoy the moderate climate of the Ozarks, I report that the first snowfall of the winter hit the farm over the weekend, and my sister sent this picture.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Nearing the End of a Very Busy Semester

As we complete our last week of fall classes, it is hard to believe that the semester is over. We packed so much into it - the time flew by.

Here are some of the highlights:

We started out the semester with a visit from Professor Neil Hamilton who taught a one week condensed course, Introduction to the Law of Food & Agriculture. Professor Hamilton's forward-looking and progressive view of our food system and the future of agriculture always spurs thoughtful discussion.

Our regular semester classes followed - with Professor Christopher Kelley teaching Government Regulation of Agriculture and me teaching Agricultural Finance & Credit, Advanced Agricultural Law Research, and Food Law & Policy.

We were pleased to add a new adjunct professor to our ranks - Vince Chadick, J.D., LL.M., University of Arkansas. Professor Chadick, who practices Agricultural Law with the Bassett Law Firm here in Fayetteville taught Livestock Marketing and Sales and was a great addition to our faculty.

James Baarda, J.D., Ph.D. visited in September, teaching his Agricultural Cooperatives course. Dr. Baarda works with the USDA in Washington, D.C., and is well known for his cooperative law expertise. The LL.M. candidates were not only attentive students, but great hosts, organizing a fantastic pot luck luncheon for him.

And, speaking of luncheon's, this year's class also hosted the first of what may have to become an annual tradition - a luncheon in honor of our law school Dean, Dean Cyndi Nance, and her Associate Deans, Professors Lonnie Beard and Judith Kilpatrick. We prepared home-cooked and local foods for the occasion. Dean Nance's administration has been so supportive of our agricultural law efforts - it was a pleasure to thank them with a "real food" meal.

Mid-semester, many of us attended the International Law conference at Drake Law School in Des Moines. And, right after that, a group of us flew to San Diego to attend the Annual Educational Symposium of the American Agricultural Law Association. Great networking opportunities were available at each conference, and the real-world information from the conferences was invaluable.

During the last month of classes, Professor Kelley taught a new course, Selected Issues in International Agriculture; the LL.M. candidates worked diligently to get started on their thesis research; and, we enjoyed particularly beautiful fall weather in the Ozarks. Great hiking weather, pretty fall colors, and that clear blue sky . . .

Tomorrow is the last day of fall classes. A week or so of finals, and then everyone takes a well deserved break. More next time about the exciting things happening during that "break"!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Introducing Some of Our 2007-2008 LL.M. Candidates

It is with great pleasure that I post information about some of our LL.M. candidates this year. I am sure that you will agree that they are an impressive group -

Irina Feofanova
Specialist in Law, Interpreter in Professional Sphere (supplementary specialization), with honors, Yaroslav-the-Wise Novgorod State University, Russia

Law school activities: CIRP Summer School "Wider Europe Without Dividing Lines"; St. Petersburg Summer Law Program; Winter Academy (Center for European Security Studies); Visiting scholar, University of Arkansas School of Law; Yaroslav-the-Wise Novgorod State University team, Jessup Moot Court Competition; English tutor

Professional experience: Legal associate, JurService, Ltd., Legal consultant, Legal Clinic "Center of Legal Help for Indigent Population," Attorney, Construction firm, "Company NB," Ltd.

Eric Foy
B.S. Business Management, Brigham Young University
J.D., University of Oklahoma College of Law

Law school activities: Member of the American Indian Law Review; American Jurisprudence Award: Professional Responsibility; Recipient of the Phillips Allen Porta Legal Ethics Memorial Scholarship; President of the OK College of Law Federalist Society, Vice President of the J. Rueben Clark Law Society

Professional experience: Judicial clerkship, the Honorable Justice Yvonne Kauger, Supreme Court of Oklahoma; Legal Assistant, Oklahoma County District Attorney's Office; Licensed to practice law in Oklahoma.

Benjamin Lewis
B.S. History, magna cum laude, Troy State University
J.D., Faulker University Jones School of Law

Law school activities: Intern, Legal and Political Affairs Div., Alabama Dep't of Agric. and Industries

Professional experience: Member of the Alabama state legislature (elected Nov. 2006), with appointments to the Agric. & Forestry Committee and the Public Safety Committee; Appointed to the Alabama Law Institute by Governor Bob Riley; Associate attorney with Lewis and Wadsworth, LLC; Licensed to practice law in Alabama and Florida

Agricultural experience: Active in family dairy farm operation.

Cara McCarthy
B.S. Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science/Environmental Policy, Michigan State University
J.D. ,Wayne State University Law School

Law school activities: Vice President, Environmental Law Society; Attended Environmental Law Summer Sessions at the Environmental Law Center at Vermont Law School

Professional experience: AmeriCorps Member (working with at-risk youth); Member of the Board of Directors for the Great Lakes Bioregional Land Conservancy and the Pleasant Lake Improvement Association; Law clerk, Children and Youth Services Div. Mich. Att'y General's Office; Legislative Fellow, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (Washington, D.C.; 2007 Farm Bill work).

Agricultural experience: work with Community Supported Agriculture at Three Roods Farm, CSA and Growing In Place Community Farm.

Shannon Mirus
B.S. Agricultural Business, magna cum laude, University of Arkansas
J.D., cum laude, University of Arkansas School of Law

Law School activities: Articles editor, Journal of Food Law & Policy; Judicial extern, Judge Xollie Duncan; Legislative intern, Senator Mark Pryor

Professional experience: Secretary, Board of Directors, Arkansas Women in Agriculture, Inc.; Preparation of publications for University of Arkansas – Division of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service; Research and writing assistance, Federal Laws Food Safety Project, Legal Research Network, Los Angeles, CA; Research and writing assistance, Workbook for Small and Very Small Processing Plants Regarding Legal Aspects of Sampling and Statistical Analysis Requirements under HACCP, Winrock Project; Contributing Writer for Ozarks Farm & Neighbor; Research Assistant, Professor Jennie Popp; Legal clerk and Teaching Assistant, Assistant Professor, Janie Hipp; Licensed to practice law in the state of Arkansas.

Elizabeth Springsteen
B.A. Political Science/Pre-Law, Michigan State University (active competitor, president, and captain of the MSU Mock Trial team)
J.D., cum laude, University of Toledo College of Law

Law school activities: Semi-finalist, Fornoff Appellate Advocacy Competition; Finalist, National Arbitration Competition; Highest rank - Criminal Procedure Adjudication & Trial Practice; Coach of the Ida High School Mock Trial Team; assisted Michigan State University mock trial team

Professional experience: Intern, Magistrate Judge Virginia M. Morgan, U.S. Dist. Ct, E.D. Mich.; Legal intern, Michigan prosecutors' offices (Monroe and Lenawee counties); Legal intern, U.S. Attorney's Office, Toledo Ohio; Legal intern, Hon. David A. Katz, N.D. Ohio; Law clerk, Cosme, D'Angelo and Szollosi, Toledo, Ohio. Licensed in Ohio

Agricultural experience: raised on a eight-generational centennial farm in Michigan; assisted with family farming operation involving the direct marketing of fruits, vegetables, and flowers.

K.C. Tucker
B.A. Drama/Political Science, Colorado College
J.D., University of Arkansas School of Law

Law school activities: President and Fundraising chair, Women’s Law Student Association; President, HLA Hart Society; Wal-Mart Corporate Legal Extern program (International Legal Department), Dean's Award for contribution through service to the law school community

Professional experience: Law clerk, Bassett Law firm, Ass’t Director of Dev’t, Alumni Director, and Teacher, Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences; Artist-in-Residence, Northwest Asian-American Theatre; Office Coordinator, Affiliated Mental Health Programs; Licensed to practice in Arkansas; Will assume Associate position with the Bassett Law firm upon completion of the program.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Dean Jim Chen Visits the LL.M. Program

On November 1, Dean Jim Chen, visiting as part of our Day with a Dean program delivered a lecture in our Food Law and Policy course based on his article, Beyond Food and Evil.

In this article, and in his presentation, Dean Chen discussed the tensions between the FDA acting under its authority pursuant to the Food Drug & Cosmetic Act and the USDA acting under its authority pursuant to the Organic Foods Production Act. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are at the heart of this tension.

Dean Chen also addressed the Agricultural Finance & Credit class, presenting his article, Around the World in Eighty Centileters. In this article, and in Dean Chen's lecture, he discussed the interplay of trade, taxation (particularly through regulation and subsidy), and social justice. He used the typical North American coffee service, a carafe of coffee with cream and sugar on the side, to illustrate his analysis and to pointedly criticize certain aspects of U.S. farm policy.

Dean Chen's visit characterized the complex and controversial aspects of issues related to food and agriculture, and his analysis produced many good after-class discussions.

International Law Symposium

The month of October was a particular busy month for faculty and candidates of the LL.M. Program. After completing the condensed course in Crop Insurance and Disaster Assistance, the LL.M. candidates had a week of regular classes, followed by a road trip to Des Moines, Iowa to attend the International Agricultural Law Symposium sponsored by the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University School of Law. The symposium, created and organized by Professor Neil Hamilton, provided an international perspective on the topic, The Role of Law in Promoting Sustainable Farming and Rural Development. The LL.M. Candidates attended the symposium as the special guests of Professor Hamilton, and the Graduate Program in Agricultural Law and the National Center for Agricultural Law served as co-sponsors.

The conference brought together an amazing group of agricultural law scholars and experts from eleven different countries. Included among the distinguished speakers were several alumni of the LL.M. program, including:

Domenico Viti is a Professor of Law at University of Foggia, Italy and this fall was the Lorvellec Visiting International Scholar at Drake University Law School. Professor Viti spoke about rural development and multifunctionality in Italy through the lens of his wife's experience in establishing a farm business in her family's historic masseria. Masseria Pilapalucci is a founding member of the Praesidium of Slow Food and business activities include organic olive oil and almond sales, agritourism opportunities, rental of the historic buildings for conferences and holidays, and will soon include a bed & breakfast and restaurant.

Bhargavi Motukuri, policy coordinator, International Network of Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), New Delhi, India. Bhargavi prepares fundraising proposals and produces policy papers for INBAR promoting bamboo as a sustainable product. Products that can be generated from bamboo include charcoal, pellets, furniture, and housing. Bhargavi spoke on the topic of Legal and Regulatory Impediments for Sustainable Growth of the Bamboo Sector: A Case Study of an Indian Grassroots Scenario.

There was a special International Workshop Banquet to Honor the memory of another LL.M. program alumnus, the honorable and much loved Professor Louis Lorvellec (1946-2001), University of Nantes, France. His wife Soizic Lorvellec was the guest of honor.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Now Reviewing Applications for LL.M. Program for Fall 2008

While issues involving food and agriculture have always been important, recent concerns about food safety have highlighted critical issues concerning agricultural law. Similarly, environmental issues, biotechnology, food labeling, international trade, and other compelling new challenges face our food system. The Graduate Program in Agricultural Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law offers the nation's only advanced LL.M. degree in agricultural law. We take pride in offering a curriculum covering the full spectrum of law and policy from the perspective of the farmer, the processor, the retailer, and the consumer, and are now including food law issues as a core aspect of that curriculum.

Our nine month course of study attracts attorneys from throughout the United States and from abroad. While many of our students are recent law school graduates, others enter the program as experienced practitioners. Our alumni are among the leaders in the agricultural law community.

The University of Arkansas School of Law is located in Fayetteville, Arkansas, "a fast-growing college town of 62,000 in the Ozark foothills . . . flush with youth, culture and natural beauty." 36 Hours, by Julie Besonen, N.Y. TIMES, April 21, 2006.

We are now reviewing applications for the 2008-2009 academic year. Interested students are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Visit our website, send us an e-mail at, or call 479-575-3706.

Susan A. Schneider
Professor of Law and Director
Graduate Program in Agricultural Law
University of Arkansas School of Law
Fayetteville, Arkansas
(479) 575-4334

Monday, October 1, 2007

Visiting Professor Teaches Crop Insurance and Disaster Assistance

This week, Karen Krub joins us as a visiting professor in the LL.M. program, teaching Crop Insurance and Disaster Assistance.

Karen earned her B.S. in Resource Development from Michigan State University in 1991 and her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1996. She served on the Yale JOURNAL ON REGULATION staff in 1994-95 and began her work at the Farmers' Legal Action Group (FLAG) in 1995 as a summer intern. FLAG is a nonprofit law center dedicated to providing legal services to family farmers and their rural communities. Karen was a Skadden Fellow at FLAG from 1996-1998 and then joined the full-time legal staff. In 2003, she was promoted to her current position as FLAG senior staff attorney.

Karen works in the areas of administrative law, agricultural credit, disaster assistance, and farmer-owned agricultural business development. She is the co-author of the book, THE FARMERS GUIDE TO DISASTER ASSISTANCE (2004) (now in its fifth edition), and the author of FARM TO MARKET: LEGAL ISSUES FOR MINNESOTA FARMERS STARTING A PROCESSING OR MARKETING BUSINESS (2000). In addition, she has authored numerous agricultural law articles, including, USDA's National Appeals Division Procedures and Practice (2003) National Agricultural Law Center, So What Else Is in the 2002 Farm Bill? FARMERS' LEGAL ACTION REPORT FOCUS REPORT (June 2002); and The Agricultural Provisions of the 1999 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, FARMERS' LEGAL ACTION REPORT FOCUS REPORT ( Dec.1998).

In addition to her publication work, Karen is a frequent speaker at farm advocacy training events, legal education seminars, and community meetings on agricultural law issues. She works as part of a team undertaking strategic litigation to advance farmers' rights and provides backup support on agricultural law issues to attorneys and advocates nationwide. She represents and provides support to farmers, their advocates, and attorneys in administrative appeals and ADR cases. She has taught the Agricultural Law seminar at William Mitchell College of Law in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and this is her third visit to the University of Arkansas to teach Crop Insurance and Disaster Assistance in the LL.M. Program.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Ag Law Conference in Georgia - with LL.M. Alumni

Today I had the opportunity to speak at an Agricultural Law conference, The Cutting Edge of Agricultural Law, at Mercer Law School in Macon, Georgia. This conference was organized by the Agricultural Law section of the Georgia Bar Association.

LL.M. Alumnus, Allen Olson (Moore, Clark, DuVall & Rodgers), section chair, gets credit for re-activiating the section, starting the section newsletter, and hosting the first annual ag law conference last year.

This year, Nowell Bereth (Alston & Byrd LL.P), organized the conference, and the LL.M. Program was very well represented. Allen provided the Update on the 2008 Farm Bill and brought in another alumnus, Anne Hazlett (Minority Counsel, Senate Agriculture Committee) to give an update on Senate negotiations. Professor Terry Centner (University of Georgia), also one of our alumni, spoke on Georgia's Right to Farm Law. I spoke on Recent Developments in Food Law and Food Safety. And, alumnus Beth Crocker, Counsel to the Commissioner of Agriculture in South Carolina, was there to accept her new position as next year's section chair.

It was great to see so many of our alumni, and in particular to see them all contributing so much to the agricultural law community.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Special Condensed Course in Ag Cooperatives

Dr. James R. Baarda from the USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service in Washington, D.C. will be with us this week teaching a condensed Agricultural Cooperative Law course. This is one of the special condensed course offerings in the LL.M. Program. During a condensed course week, the rest of our classes are suspended, and the LL.M. candidates immerse themselves in just one subject.

Dr. Baarda grew up on a farm in Iowa and received his B.S. degree in chemistry, physics, and zoology from Iowa State University. He received his law degree from the University of Denver School of Law (night division) and his Ph.D. in food and resource economics from the University of Florida. In addition to private practice and consulting work, Dr. Baarda has had a long and distinguished career with the USDA. He has worked with farmer cooperatives in Eastern Europe and Russia as well as throughout the United States. He is the recipient of the American Agricultural Law Association Distinguished Service Award and the USDA Superior Service Award. His current work is focused on the legal, economic, financial, and business characteristics of cooperatives that distinguish them from other forms of business in a dynamic, global economy.

Dr. Baarda is a great teacher and puts a tremendous amount of work into organizing a good course for our students. We are delighted to have him with us this week.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Welcome to the Unofficial Blog of the Graduate Program in Agricultural Law

Each year, the Graduate Program in Agricultural Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville, Arkansas prepares a small number of carefully selected attorneys as specialists in the legal problems and policies associated with agriculture.

What is agricultural law? It is the study of the network of laws that apply to the production, marketing, and sale of the food we eat, the natural fibers we wear, and increasingly, the bio-fuel that runs our cars. Agricultural law affects everyone; yet few understand the complex interaction of special exceptions and unique rules.

In the Graduate Program in Agricultural Law, we study this network of special laws - including the regulation of food safety and food labeling, the environmental regulation of agricultural production, and the commercial laws involved in agricultural transactions. And, we debate the critical policy issues concerning our system of food and agriculture today.

The objective of our program is to provide attorneys with the ability to deal at the highest professional level with the complex legal issues facing producers, processors, and consumers of agricultural products. We hope you enjoy learning more about our program and about agricultural law through this blog.