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.