Sunday, December 21, 2008

End of Semester Happenings

The last few weeks have been eventful - with lots of great work accomplished, holiday travel, and the end of a very good semester. There was so much going on, I got behind on my posting. Here's a catch up on the news.

Video Conferencing with Ukraine
Professor Kelley organized another live video conference connecting Ukrainian law professors with our professors, through the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. The topic of discussion was The Recognition of States under International Law, and the conference began with an exchange of ideas between Professor Liliana Tymchenko, an international law specialist in Ukraine and our own Professors Ewelukwa and Foster. Other Ukrainian professors joined in the discussion, and Ukrainian law students asked questions for discussion.

Many of our alumni have had the opportunity to take an international law or human rights course from Professors Ewelukwa or Foster. We were all so proud of their performance during this video conference. Each was extremely knowledgeable, articulate, and thoughtful in their comments as they discussed the complexities of this difficult topic and wove in issues of human rights and political pressure. It was fascinating. At the conclusion of the conference, the idea of the three professors co-writing an article capturing the dialogue was discussed - a great way to continue and to publicize this innovative exchange of ideas!

The conference technology went off without a hitch thanks to our Library and Information Systems Director, Professor Randy Thompson and Information Technology Specialist Chris Abel. At times it was hard to believe that we were talking with people a half a world away.

Final Exams and Projects
December 19 was the last day of the Fall 2008 semester - everyone agrees that the semester went by very, very fast. We have an excellent LL.M. class this year, and they all performed exceptionally well. They had final exams in Food Law & Policy and Finance & Credit, and Regulation of Livestock Sales, a written essay in Issues in International Agriculture, and bibliography assignment in Advanced Research in Agricultural Law.

After classes ended, Professor Kelley fit in a trip to Ukraine where he met with State Department officials at the U.S. embassy and professors at law schools in Kyiv and Ukraine. After he returned, I headed north for Minnesota - a road trip with my sister and most of our menagerie of pets. We stopped in Kansas City to pick up my niece and then headed for the farm in Minnesota. I have never missed a Christmas on the farm - and although the icy roads and blizzard conditions almost made this year an exception, we arrived safely just last night. It was ten below zero this morning when I got up. I think I forgot how cold Minnesota winters can be! Fortunately, the forecast is for a little warmer temperatures for Christmas when Christopher flies up to join us for the holiday.

I wish all of you the happiest of holidays! More reports after the new year!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Anne Hazlett - New Director of Agriculture

One of our alumni, Anne Hazlett was recently named Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. For the past two years, Anne served as minority counsel for Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Prior to that appointment, Anne served as a former chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman who oversees the agriculture department.

Anne is a graduate of Kansas State University, has her law degree from Indiana University, and she earned her LL.M. in Agricultural Law with us.

Congratulations, Anne - we know you will do a great job in your new position!

We are beginning to collect information from all our alumni so we can prepare our alumni newsletter soon after the holidays. We already have lots of exciting news to report! Please send your announcements to me at - we love hearing from you!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Professor Hamilton Suggested as Secretary of Agriculture

This in from a December 5, 2008 Press Release from Drake University about our friend and visiting professor:
Neil Hamilton, the Dwight D. Opperman chair of law and director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University, has been suggested as a "sustainable choice for the next U.S. Secretary of Agriculture."
Hamilton is among six top picks for the cabinet position recommended by nearly 90 notable figures in the world of sustainable agriculture and food who signed a letter sent to the Obama transition team earlier this week. The letter is posted on the New York Times Web site.

The letter was mentioned yesterday in the New York Times Blog on Dining Out, which noted that "The hope is that the new secretary will be less aligned with industrial agribusiness and commodity farming than secretaries past. And if he or she embraces the connection between food health and the environment, well, that's all the better."

"I'm honored to be considered, although I'm not looking for a job. In fact, I have one of the best jobs in the world," Hamilton said. "I've had no official inquiries from the transition team, but I certainly would welcome the opportunity to serve the Obama administration in any way that I could."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Chuck Culver Visits LL.M. Class

We were delighted to have alumnus, Chuck Culver visit the Agricultural Finance & Credit class this week. Chuck serves as Director of Development for the Division of Agriculture at the University of Arkansas and has a distinguished record of service to agriculture and agricultural law throughout his career. He worked for Senator Dale Bumpers in Washington, D.C. for a number of years, and Chuck's assistance was key to the creation of the National Center for Agricultural Law. Chuck was a member of the very first LL.M. class, and as an alumnus, he has always provided critical support to the Program.

Chuck delivered an excellent lecture discussing the historical phases of federal support to and regulation of agriculture. He concluded his remarks with commentary on the future of agricultural policy with a fascinating look at the changes in Congressional Committee chairs and the significance of likely agricultural appointees to the USDA. Chuck's long record of political and policy work in Washington, D.C. along with the network of political contacts he has made over the years, provide him with valuable insight into the current political process. The LL.M. candidates, several of whom would like the opportunity to work in Washington, were a captivated audience.

Monday, December 1, 2008

School of Law Hosts Distinguished Panel of Ukrainian Judges

From Saturday, November 15 to Saturday, November 22, thanks to the efforts of Professor Christopher Kelley, the School of Law and the Young Lawyers Section of the Arkansas Bar Association had the opportunity to host five Ukrainian judges. The Judges’ visit included activities in both Little Rock and Fayetteville and was sponsored in cooperation with Freedom House and the Open World Program of the Library of Congress.

In addition to Professor Kelley’s leadership in organizing the visit, several of our LL.M. alumni and candidates were involved in this historic visit, and everyone in the School of Law community had the opportunity to share in this extraordinary opportunity.

The Little Rock activities for the Judges began with a tour of William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library and dinner with the Justices of the Arkansas Supreme Court and other distinguished members of the Arkansas and Federal Judiciary. The Judges also had the opportunity to meet Arkansas Governor Beebe and to tour the Arkansas State Capitol Complex, including the State Capitol Building and the Justice Building.

In Fayetteville, the Judges participated in a live digital video conference on The Judiciary’s Role in Resolving the Tension Between Individual Civil Liberties and National Security. Through this live conference, Kyiv Law Professors, Law Students, Attorneys, and Judges were able to speak directly with the visiting Judges and our distinguished panel of experts, including the Honorable Jimm Hendren, United States District Judge for the Western District of Arkansas, Kitty Gay, Clerk to the Honorable Jimm Hendren, and Professor Don Judges, E.J. Ball Professor of Law. This event was hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.

LL.M. candidate, Courtney Henry, Judge-Elect, Arkansas Court of Appeals led a spirited discussion of judicial independence and integrity in the context of the judicial election process, and many University of Arkansas professors prepared special presentations for our guests.

LL.M. Alumnus and adjunct professor Vince Chadick and his wife Terri were among those in the Fayetteville community that welcomed the Judges into their homes as home-stay hosts. And, LL.M. candidate Ulyana Korzhevych from Ukraine deserves a “special service” award for her assistance in making the visit a great success.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Crop Insurance & Disaster Assistance Class

Last week, we were delighted to host visiting professor Karen Krub who taught our Crop Insurance and Federal Disaster Assistance class.

Karen has devoted her professional career to work with family farmers. She is a senior staff attorney for Farmers' Legal Action Group, Inc. (FLAG), a nonprofit law center formed in 1986 to provide legal services to family farmers and their rural communities. Karen grew up in the Skagit Valley of northwestern Washington where her family fished for salmon in the coastal waters of Washington and Alaska. She received her B.S. in Resource Development from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, in 1991, and her J.D. degree from Yale Law School in 1996.

Karen first came to FLAG in 1995 as a summer intern, primarily exploring production contract issues. She then received a Skadden Fellowship which allowed her to return as a staff attorney. She quickly became a critical part of FLAG's work and was hired into a permanent staff attorney position. Since joining FLAG, she has worked primarily in the areas of administrative law, agricultural credit, disaster assistance, and farmer-owned agricultural business development. She has delivered trainings for farmers, farm advocates, and attorneys through out the United States, has testified before Congress on family farm issues, and is well known and respected for her work. Her many agricultural publications include the Farmers' Guide to Disaster Assistance.

As part of the class, we were also delighted to welcome LL.M. Alumnus, Scott Fancher who visited Wednesday afternoon to discuss his crop insurance and farm program practice. Scott is known nationally for his crop insurance law expertise, and the stories and perspectives from his practice were very helpful to the class.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Who Knows Where Your LL.M. Will Lead You?

When LL.M. Alumnus, Amy Lowenthal took her position as majority counsel on the Senate Agriculture Committee, little did she know that she would be researching Wall Street finances. However, recent problems with credit default swaps came to the attention of the Committee because of its jurisdiction over the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Amy has been researching this difficult issue for Senator Harkin, and here she is, seated behind him during the hearings that are referenced in the 60 Minutes segment "The Bet that Blew Up Wallstreet" aired on Sunday, October 26, 2008. It is a fascinating segment as well as great fun to see Amy on national television!

Watch CBS Videos Online

Thursday, October 30, 2008

American Agricultural Law Conference

I was pleased to accompany 8 of our LL.M. candidates on a trip to Minneapolis to attend the American Agricultural Law Association Annual Educational Symposium, October 24-25, 2008. This conference brings together great friends and colleagues and is always a good opportunity to learn and to share perspectives on agricultural law developments.

This year, there were over 210 attendees at the conference, and I was delighted to see over twenty of our LL.M. alumni among those attending. I also had an opportunity to meet with a number of prospective LL.M. program applicants - enthusiastic law students and attorneys anxious to be able to come to Fayetteville to study with us.

I was honored to have two opportunities to participate in the conference. I delivered a Food Law Update to the general session and later moderated a panel that discussed legal issues involving organic production.

It was a great opportunity for this year's LL.M. candidates to meet agricultural law professionals from across the United States and several international countries. Appreciation is extended to the University of Arkansas Graduate School for assisting with travel expenses. Because the candidates participated in a poster display at the conference, they were eligible for travel funding through the graduate school. And, they did an amazing job on their posters.

Here is a link to an album showing the posters designed by the LL.M. candidates who attended the conferece, Aaron Thompson, Andrew Hopper, Angela Boyd, Ashley Schweizer, Jera Houghtaling, Kimberly Clark, Paul Goerenger, and Qiana Wilson.

Blogging from Food Law & Policy Class

One of our LL.M. Candidates, Ashley Schweizer has started blogging! Ashley is reporting on some of the "food law in the news" discussions that take place at the beginning of our Food Law & Policy class. She is doing a great job, and her posts reflect the myriad of interesting issues that are surfacing every day. Check out her blog at foodlawclass. As our recruitment poster says, "Today's headlines. Tomorrow's law practice."

Ashley is from Salem, Kentucky. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science/Social Studies from Murray State University, summa cum laude and her J.D. degree from Ohio Northern University with distinction as a Member of the Willis Society (top 10% of the class). While in law school, Ashley served as the Symposium Editor of the Northern Ohio Law Review and received Book Awards in Legal Writing II, Civil Practice, Environmental Law Seminar, and Bankruptcy & Creditors’ Rights. She was the 2006 first place winner in the Daniel Guy Appellate Advocacy Competition. She clerked for with the firm of Boehl Stopher & Graves and served as a Congressional intern for Rep. Ed Whitfield , U.S. House of Representatives. Ashley is currently an LL.M. candidate. She received a Graduate Assistantship to work with the LL.M. Program, and she works part time with the Bassett Law Firm here in Fayetteville.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Advanced Agricultural Law Research

Each fall semester, LL.M. candidates have the opportunity to take a course in advanced agricultural law research. This practical course provides a variety of helpful research tips and acquaints the candidates with some of the specialized agricultural law resources available. The course also assists candidates in getting started on their writing project - completion of a research article is one of the requirements for the LL.M. degree.

As part of the Advanced Agricultural Law Research class, guest speakers make presentations to the class, bringing special expertise. Jason Springman, Reference Librarian at the Young Law Library was a guest lecturer on the issue of online resources for research and provided very helpful information. And, this last week, two professors from the School of Law's legal writing program, Kathy Samson and Karen Koch made a special presentation on plagiarism and originality in legal writing. They delivered a PowerPoint presentation and answered student questions on the proper use of sources, proper attribution, and other legal writing issues. Their insight was greatly appreciated.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sustainable Agriculture Leader Visits Fayetteville

The LL.M. Program was pleased to co-host an informal discussion of sustainable agriculture in honor of Dr. Fred Kirschenmann who was in Fayetteville as a visitor of the Center for Applied Sustainability.

Dr. Kirschenmann is a recognized leader in national and international sustainable agriculture. He serves as a Distinguished Fellow for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University (ISU) and as President of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, New York. He continues to be actively involved in the management of his family’s 3,500-acre certified organic farm in south central North Dakota. This farm was the subject of the 1995 award winning film, My Father's Garden by Miranda Productions. LL.M. candidates in the Graduate Program in Agricultural Law have fewed this film as part of their Agricultural Perspectives course, a course that delves into agricultural social history and ethics.

Dr. Kirschenmann holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Chicago and has written extensively about ethics and agriculture. He has held numerous appointments, including the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board and most recently, the National Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production operated by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and funded by Pew Charitable Trusts.

The event was organized by the National Center for Appropriate Technology, and other co-sponsors were the National Agricultural Law Center, The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, Ozark Slow Food.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Dr. Baarda: Agricultural Economics for Lawyers

The week of September 30, Visiting Professor Dr. James Baarda taught a condensed course in the LL.M. Program, Agricultural Economics for Lawyers. This excellent course arose out of the requests of last year's LL.M. Candidates to bring Dr. Baarda back for a second condensed course. His usual course is Agricultural Cooperatives which will be offered Spring semester 2009.

Agricultural economic principles underlie much of our federal farm policies and yet many attorneys do not have a good understanding of these principles or their application. Dr. Baarda's class, developed specifically for our program bridges this gap.

Dr. Baarda is uniquely qualified to provide this excellent course. He grew up on a small farm in Iowa. He attended Iowa State University (B.S., 1963, chemistry, physics, zoology), the University of Denver School of Law, Night Division (J.D., 1969), and the University of Florida (Ph.D., 1974, Food and Resource Economics). He is a member of the Colorado and Florida Bars (inactive), a recipient of the American Agricultural Law Association’s Distinguished Service Award and USDA’s Superior Service Award.

Dr. Baarda worked with USDA’s Farmer Cooperative Service in Washington, D.C., for more than 16 years, then spent four years as Vice President of Education at the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. After domestic and international consulting in Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union republics, he joined a law firm in Washington engaged in complex nationwide class action as well as other litigation.

In 2001, Dr. Baarda returned to USDA where he conducts research, writing, training, and speaking activities for Cooperative Services in the Rural Business-Cooperative Service agency. He has written and spoken extensively on topics related to cooperatives and other farmer and business associations and is widely recognized for his work, both in the U.S. and internationally.

Much of Dr. Baarda's current work focuses on the legal, economic, financial, and business characteristics of cooperatives that distinguish them from other forms of business in a dynamic, global economy. He is pictured here being interviewed on Russian television during a recent trip to work with farmers in rural Russia.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Fayetteville Farmers' Market

During the first week of the semester, as a class project, each year the new LL.M. candidates visit the Fayetteville Farmers' Market to interview farmers, the market manager, and customers. This project introduces the class to an important component in today's agriculture - direct marketing of local farm products. And, it introduces the LL.M. Candidates to an important aspect of life in Northwest Arkansas.

Here is a podcast created by LL.M. Candidate, Andrew Hopper detailing his visit to the market. Listen and enjoy a visit to Fayetteville, Arkansas! And, special thanks to Andrew for creating this podcast for us.

Andrew Hopper
Anderson, Indiana
B.S., Business Administration, Milligan College
J.D., Ohio Northern University
SBA President; SBA President’s Service Award; SBA Excellence in Leadership Award; Agric, L. Assoc. President; Icelandic Legal Society International Exchange Student
Thomson West representative, BarBri representative; Business owner, Hopper Photography

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Class of 2008-09

We are now several weeks into the semester, and it has been fun to see the new class coming together.

We have 13 LL.M. candidates enrolled in the Program this fall, one of the largest classes on record. And, the candidates have some of the highest academic credentials. The class has an average law school G.P.A. of 3.32; several are published authors; four are members of their law school's law review or journal; two are experienced attorneys; and one is a state court of appeals judge-elect. The candidates come from Michigan, Florida, Oklahoma, Indiana, Kentucky, Texas, Arkansas, and Ukraine.

Special thanks to Associate Dean (and former LL.M. Director) Lonnie Beard and his wife Amy White Beard (J.D., Michigan State, LL.M. University of Arkansas) for hosting a welcome dinner at their lovely home near campus. As can be seen in the photos (taken by Andrew Hopper, one of the LL.M. candidates who is also a professional photographer - how handy is that?) we all had a wonderful time getting to know each other and enjoying some beautiful Northwest Arkansas weather in the Beard's backyard. Special guests included Professors Neil Hamilton, Christopher Kelley, and Vince Chadick; LL.M. Alumni representative K.C. Tucker and her husband Joe Tucker; and Lisa Schreurs, LL.M. Program Administrative Assistant.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Food & Agriculture: The New Trend in Higher Education

Shared post with Agricultural Law:

As someone who has practiced, taught, and wrote about agricultural law for over twenty years, the current upswing in interest in studying issues of food and agriculture is gratifying. You can imagine my reaction when the Washington Post published Field Studies: In Exploring Culture, Politics and the Environment, Food Programs Hit the Academic Mainstream last week.

The article reports that Yale now offers 19 food and agriculture courses, with that number up almost 50 percent from five years ago. "Psychology, Biology and Politics of Food, taught for the first time in fall 2006, had to be moved to one of the college's largest lecture halls to accommodate the 325 students who registered."
"There's a generation of students that understand that the modern world has been shaped by agriculture, and they are turning to their curriculum to understand those connections," says Melina Shannon-DiPietro, director of the six-year-old Yale Sustainable Food Project, which runs the pre-orientation program [in organic farming].
And, highlighting that the trend is not just at Yale, the article references "pioneering" food studies programs that have existed for some time at Boston University and New York University. "[F]ood is now entering the academic mainstream" with new programs this year at the University of New Hampshire and the University of California at Davis and food courses referenced at George Washington University and Catholic University.
Professors point to several reasons behind the boom in food studies. One is competition for enrollment. As more students profess a broader awareness of food and its cultural and environmental implications, colleges are scrambling to offer courses to attract them.

Trends in academia also are fueling the growth. First, the explosion of food literature has produced books students want to read. "When I first taught a course on food seven years ago, it was hard to find books," says Carolyn de la Peña, associate professor of American studies at UC Davis. Instead, she had to use narrow, often technical articles that didn't appeal to students.
In the past 10 years, a body of literature has emerged: Eric Schlosser's "Fast Food Nation," Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and Morgan Spurlock's documentary film "Super Size Me," among others. "You can hand them to a student, and they can see how their own choices affect labor practices or health or the environment," de la Peña says.
Will the trend continue? While "[p]rofessors acknowledge that all the courses in the world aren't going to end college students' love affair with pizza and beer . . . once you have gone from ignorance to a greater understanding of how your choices impact the food system, you can't go back."

In the LL.M. Program in Agricultural Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law, we are continuing to expand our offerings in food law, with three courses in the curriculum and others being developed. There has been enough interest among J.D. students so that we have opened two of these classes to them, and yes, we have had to move to a slightly larger classroom (although admittedly we are a long ways from the largest lecture hall). Similarly, our new Journal of Food Law & Policy has been very well received. And, I have contracted with Carolina Press for the publication of an Agricultural Law J.D. casebook - with an emphasis on the natural link between agriculture and food.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Law of Food and Agriculture

As we have done in recent years, we began our academic year with An Introduction to the Law of Food and Agriculture, a popular course taught by our long-time friend and colleague, Neil Hamilton. Neil is the Dwight D. Opperman Chair of Law at the Drake University School of Law and the Director of the Drake Agricultural Law Center. He has taught agricultural law for over twenty years and was instrumental in the founding of our LL.M. Program, serving as one of our first professors in 1981. He returns to Arkansas at least twice each year to teach classes in the LL.M. Program. Pictured here is Professor Hamilton and University of Arkansas School of Law Dean Cynthia Nance.

In this course, Professor Hamilton introduces our LL.M. candidates to a wide array of agricultural policy issues and discusses current trends affecting food and agriculture.
Among the current issues that the class discussed were:
  • Increased consumer and retail interest in local foods
  • Direct marketing opportunities for agricultural producers
  • Sustainable agriculture and the development of a sustainable food system
Exemplifying the currency and significance of the issues discussed in class, today the Washington Post highlighted the local food movement in its article, As Food Becomes a Cause, Meeting Puts Issues on the Table.

As this article notes:
The term "foodie" is no longer reserved for an exclusive club of chefs and discriminating diners. Today, food has become a focus -- and a cause -- for a broad audience, from individuals such as the Chico residents offering their yards to an idealistic urban farmer, to corporations such as Chipotle, which this month announced that each of its more than 730 restaurants will be required to buy a percentage of the produce it serves from local farms.

Sodexo, the world's largest food-service company, now sources from 700 independent, regional farmers and is overhauling its menus to focus on seasonal and local ingredients. Wal-Mart announced last month that it plans to buy and sell $400 million worth of locally grown produce at its stores in 2008. "It's no longer the fringe elements," said Tracey Ryder, founder of Edible Communities, a publisher of regional food magazines. "We call it the new mainstream."
As one of the founders of the slow food movement in Iowa, Professor Hamilton is at the Slow Food Nation in San Francisco that is described in the Post article.

We are pleased to offer our LL.M. candidates an opportunity to begin their year of study by exploring this very current area of law and policy - the merger of food and agriculture through the formation of a food law system that is based on sound agricultural production practices, environmental sustainability, and a restored connection between consumers and their food.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Welcoming the class of 2008-2009

We are pleased to welcome a new class of LL.M. Candidates - attorneys from Kentucky, Indiana, Texas, Michigan, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Florida, and the country of Ukraine. Orientation for the new class was held on Friday, August 15. After giving each of the attorneys a chance to introduce themselves, there was a PowerPoint presentation that introduced agricultural law, emphasized the importance of studying the law of food and agriculture, and described our unique program.

To learn more about any of these topics, watch the introductory orientation presentation yourself.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Farm Blogs From Around the World

I was pleased to receive an email a few weeks back from the author of a new blog called Farm Blogs that gathers together links to the very best of global blogging about farms and farming. It includes a blog roll sorted by country along with a General Interest section (where we are linked). Posts are made up of blog recommendations by other farm bloggers combined with farming stories from around the world. There are a number of very interesting posts and some beautiful photography.

The author of this blog and the source of my email is author Ian Walthew of Auvergne, France. He describes his use of blogs "much as one might use a scrapbook or a cuttings folder - a 'scrap-blogger' you could say, using blogs to gather and collate material for future use."

Ian invites readers of the post to send him the details of any farm/rural blogs that they like and think are worthy of being listed. Any recommendation should come with a short decription of the person recommending and a short description of each of their recommended blogs. Contact Ian at for more information and to make your recommendation.

Note that Ian is the author of 'A Place in My Country: In Search of a Rural Dream' (Weidenfeld & Nicolson; hardback, 2007; Phoenix; paperback, 2008. The book is a memoir of his move to rural life in England where many of the changes he discovers are similar to that experienced in rural areas here. Clover Stroud of The Sunday Telegraph writes that the book is "Funny, touching and ultimately very moving; this is a beautiful, unsentimental account of a personal loss that is reflected in the rapidly changing texture of life in rural England." We will add this book to our list of suggested titles for our spring Agricultural Perspectives course.

In addition to Farm Blogs, Ian also blogs at 'A Place in the Auvergne' - a "scrap-blog" that follows his life as a self-described English ex-urbanite with his Australian wife in rural France. Good stories, political and social commentary with an international perspective, and again, beautiful pictures.

We are pleased that Ian found us and happy to pass on this information about his work. I am sure you will enjoy reading about his experiences.

Exploring Food in Vienna

As the last post was titled, Professor Kelley Participates in World Justice Forum in Vienna, this post might well be titled, Professor Schneider Eats in Vienna! I suppose that since I am a food law professor, I can justify my Viennese food exploration as almost work related. But, the truth of the matter is that while Christopher was hard at work at the forum, I had the fantastic opportunity explore the beautiful city of Vienna. And, while I could describe what a beautiful city Vienna is, or I could discuss its wonderful history of music, as is so often the case when I travel, I found the food culture to be of great interest. So that will be the focus of my brief tribute to this wonderful city.

Much of my experience can be summed up with the statement, "Food and drink are to be appreciated, consumed slowly, and thoroughly enjoyed." And, when the weather is nice - they are to be consumed outside - in parks, at lovely sidewalk cafes and at markets. What a fine tradition!

Consider the coffee. No drive-thru paper cups of coffee sloshed down on the go. The coffee house is a Viennese institution. And I was told that the Viennese take their coffee very seriously. Melange is the native preference, a delicious mixture of very strong, rich coffee and frothed milk which I thoroughly enjoyed. It is served in a cup and saucer on a small plate or tray along with a glass of water and a small biscuit or wrapped chocolate. Of course, many coffeehouses also sold wonderful pastries as a perfect accompaniment.

My interest in local food led me to converse with a delightful Viennese woman who was selling her families' homemade sausage at a kiosk in a small market area. I asked her to select my lunch for me, and she chose wisely: the most wonderful sausage I have ever tasted, fried new potatoes and home made sauerkraut. Oh, and of course Austrian beer. Although I admit that it would have been enough for me to eat for both lunch and dinner, it was delicious.

Although this lunch was had a small market area in the midst of the quiet historic downtown, the Naschmarkt is Vienna's most famous and surely the liveliest food market. This fascinating market includes vendors selling all types of food, flowers, herbs, and beverages in a friendly, busy atmosphere. Market vendors intermix with cafes and street musicians entertain - truly a fun experience.

Vienna is a fascinating city with wonderful food experiences for tourist and regular alike. I am pleased I was able to visit and hope to return again.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Professor Kelley Participates in the World Justice Forum in Vienna

As noted in the update post, Professor Kelley participated in the recent World Justice Forum held in Vienna, Austria, July 2-5, 2008. This forum brought together five hundred recognized leaders from throughout the world to officially launch the World Justice Project (WPJ), a new multidisciplinary, multinational movement to strengthen the rule of law worldwide. As was reported in the international media, participants represented "95 countries and 15 disciplines and featured Supreme Court justices, former European presidents, Nobel Laureates and other world leaders."

ABA President and WJP founder William H. Neukom stated that the forum was about “actions, not discussions; programs, not declarations” and stressed the multi-disciplinary aspects of the project. Participants included rule of law experts and high-profile leaders from a wide range of disciplines. At the forum, they discussed cross-disciplinary collaborations that can advance the rule of law and will determine the future focus of the World Justice Project.

The WJP working definition of the rule of law comprises four universal principles:
  1. The government and its officials and agents are accountable under the law;
  2. The laws are clear, publicized, stable and fair, and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property;
  3. The process by which the laws are enacted, administered and enforced is accessible, fair and efficient;
  4. The laws are upheld, and access to justice is provided, by competent, independent, and ethical law enforcement officials, attorneys or representatives, and judges, who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.
The Forum featured discussions on multidisciplinary approaches to advancing the rule of law and presentations on work sponsored by the WJP. Two main elements of the project were introduced at the forum: the Rule of Law Index and the Opportunity Fund. The new Index is considered to be the first comprehensive measure of a countries’ adherence to the rule of law. It represents an expanded measurement of rule of law, evaluating 100 different variables that make up the rule of law.

The second prong is an Opportunity Fund that will provide seed money for pilot programs developed during the Forum. Participants will be encouraged to submit applications centered on programs to advance the rule of law in their communities. Distributions of $10,000 to $20,000 are expected to be made for those programs.

The Forum was the culmination of Phase I of the World Justice Project; future forums will analyze programs that have been incubated with the funding announced today, and with additional monies as fundraising efforts continue.

We were honored that the school of law was represented at the forum and look forward to the exciting work of the WJP.

An Update on Summer Activities

Although the LL.M. Program is not in session over the summer months, a lot of exciting work takes place during this time.

This summer, we are pleased to report two improvements in our physical facilities.
  • Thanks to generous assistance from our alumni, we have been able add audiovisual capability to the new LL.M. Study. We will now be able to use this spectacular room for classes and special lectures as well as study space. Special thanks to Lisa Schreurs for her work coordinating this project.
  • And, the school of law is in the process of renovating two of its classrooms to integrate state-of-the-art video conferencing and classroom capture equipment. The video conferencing equipment will allow us to further expand our use of digital video conferenced (DVC) lectures and discussions.
Meanwhile, Professor Kelley and I have had a busy travel schedule. He began the summer with a visit to Ukraine where he made presentations to a number of audiences, furthered our DVC collaboration plans with law schools in Ukraine, and worked on plans for the visit of Ukrainian judges and law professors this fall. He was then off to Russia to attend an international law conference in St. Petersburg. His next venue was Vienna, Austria where he participated in the World Justice Forum. More on that in a special post.

I have been basing my work from our farm in southern Minnesota this summer. I made my annual trek north with all of the dogs and cats in tow (not literally, of course; they ride in the comfort of a van).

I met Christopher in Vienna where I was delighted to hear about some of the exciting work going on at the World Justice Forum and to meet some of the participants. While the forum was in session, I had the opportunity to tour the beautiful city and to sample the local cuisine.
A separate post on that . . .

I am writing this post from our farm in Minnesota, back at work on the new agricultural law casebook that I am working on for Carolina Press.

It has been many years since the publication of the initial Agricultural Law J.D. casebook written by Professors Don Pedersen (University of Arkansas and former Director of the LL.M. Program), Keith Meyer (University of Kansas), and Norman Thorson (University of Nebraska) was published, and that fine work is now out of date. It is my hope that this new issues-based casebook will provide law professors with an interesting opportunity to teach an agricultural law survey course based on current issues involving our food system.

Christopher will soon head back to Ukraine where he is teaching a session on legal writing to Ukrainian summer law clerks and participating in the strategic planning process for the international firm that he works with, Inyurpolis.

Throughout the busy summer, we have enjoyed hearing from our new LL.M. candidates, fielding questions about the program and assisting them with their plans. I am particularly pleased to report that our most recently admitted candidate from Ukraine, Ulyana just received her visa and will be arriving in Arkansas next month.

We will be posting an introduction to each of our candidates soon - this year promises to be another excellent year for the LL.M. Program. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Opportunities Beyond the Law School

The Graduate Program in Agricultural Law offers 24 credits of specialized courses in the law of food and agriculture. And, in addition to these special courses, LL.M. candidates have the opportunity to take up to six credits of graduate level courses that are related to their agricultural law studies but that are outside of our usual curriculum. This opens the doors of the full University of Arkansas campus to our students - with graduate courses in business, agricultural economics, rural sociology, and other relevant subjects. One of our candidates this past year, K.C. Tucker took advantage of this opportunity and took a new course in the MBA program through the new Center for Sustainability. I asked K.C. to describe her experience for us -

A View from the Other Side of Campus

After reading about the University of Arkansas’ Sustainability Initiative and the Applied Sustainability Center, I ventured beyond the walls of the law school to take a course at the Sam M. Walton College of Business on sustainability taught by Professor Terry K. Tremwel. Like sustainable agriculture, sustainable businesses "meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." They are guided by the triple-play definition of sustainability - balancing environmental protection with economic growth and social development.

The sustainability course offered amazing opportunities to meet with some of the nation’s leading sustainable businesspeople. Each class was structured with a guest speaker for the first half of class, followed by a lecture and class discussion on a relevant sustainability topic.

For example, one snowy evening in January we were visited by Gary Whicker, Senior Vice President of Engineering Services for JB Hunt Transport Services, Inc. Mr. Whicker explained to the class that business and sustainability needed to be synonymous; “no one would go into a business expecting it to fail.” Mr. Whicker further discussed how the current environmental crisis is actually a business opportunity, and then he outlined steps that JB Hunt is taking to make sustainability part of their business strategy. The second half of the class dovetailed nicely with a discussion led by Professor Tremwel on population growth and how it relates to the exponential need for energy resources.

Throughout the semester, we were fortunate enough to learn about corporate sustainability plans from executives of Wal-Mart, Unilever, Proctor & Gamble and CHEP while also hearing guest professors discuss topics such as: ecological economics (Dr. Robert Costanza); purchasing power parity (Dr. Andrew Horowitz); how sustainability relates to firm performance (Dr. Jon Johnson); competitive and prosocial behavior (Dr. David Schroeder); how markets work (Dr. David Gay), global standards for environmental audits (Dr. Gary Peters) and metrics for addressing externalities (Dr. Jennie Popp).

The course work was engaging as well as manageable. Professor Tremwel welcomed me and was always available for any help I needed beyond the classroom. The milestone academic projects of the course were a Personal Sustainability Plan (PSP) and a research project. The PSP gave us an opportunity to reflect upon the sustainability of the choices we make in our everyday lives and challenged us to think differently about some of these choices. My PSP included some lifestyle changes such as walking to the grocery store instead of driving and starting my own vegetable and herb garden. The research project was an excellent exercise in framing research, evaluating academic and scientific sources, and honing writing skills. Overall, the class was a great success and I highly recommend it to future LL.M.’ers!

K.C. is an associate attorney at the Bassett Law Firm LLP with a practice focused on food and agriculture. Pictured right, is her dog Olive, suited up for a walk to the grocery store!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Graduation Photos

Some photos of our happy graduates! Congratulations to the LL.M. class of 2008!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

LL.M. Class of 2008 - Graduation Ceremony

The University of Arkansas School of Law held its commencement ceremony on May 17, 2008, and as a featured part of our ceremony, we congratulated this year's LL.M. class. While most are still completing work on their thesis, eight of our candidates had finished all of their regular course work and were thus entitled to "walk" with their class for commencement.

Here are excerpts from our ceremony, with pictures to be posted soon -

  • Since 1980, the University of Arkansas School of Law has had the only LL.M. program in the United States that offers an advanced legal degree in agricultural law. Our LL.M. candidates study the wide array of legal and policy issues that relate to the food we eat, the natural fibers we wear, and most recently, the biofuels that run our vehicles. They learn the law of food and agriculture from the perspective of the farmer, the retailer, and the consumer.
  • Because of our unique program, we attract candidates from throughout the United States and from many other countries. We now have alumni from 35 different states and 18 foreign countries.

We are proud of our candidate’s hard work and dedication this year. Congratulations to the class of 2008!

Jeanie Stephens Callicott received her B.S. degree in Political Science and Journalism from Southern Arkansas University and her J.D. degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Arkansas. Jeanie has accepted a position in the regulatory division at Wal-Mart, where she will be the Admissibility Compliance Manager for Imports.

Irina Feofanova is an attorney from Russia, having earned her Specialist in Law degree with honors from the Novgorod State University. Irina has been researching international child labor issues in the context of human rights for her LL.M. thesis and will be continuing this work through the next year.

Eric Howard Foy received his B.S. degree in Business Management from Brigham Young University and his J.D. from the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Eric is licensed to practice law in the state of Oklahoma. He will soon be leaving for an internship in Washington D.C. with the National Pork Producers Council, working on legislation affecting the industry.

Cara McCarthy received her B.S. in Social Science/Environmental Studies from Michigan State University and her J.D. from Wayne State University Law School. Cara recently began her work in Washington, D.C. as a legal specialist with the Packers & Stockyards Division of GIPSA, an agency within the USDA.

Shannon Mirus received her B.S. degree in Agricultural Business, magna cum laude, University of Arkansas and her J.D. degree cum laude from the University of Arkansas School of Law. Shannon is licensed to practice law in the state of Arkansas and has accepted a position as staff attorney at the National Center for Agricultural Law.

Rusty Wade Rumley received his B.S. degree in Agribusiness, magna cum laude from Oklahoma State University and his J.D. degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law. He is licensed to practice law in the state of Oklahoma. Rusty is continuing work in the area of farmland valuation and special use tax valuation and will be returning to Oklahoma to private practice.

Elizabeth R. Springsteen received her B.A. degree in Political Science/Pre Law from Michigan State University, and her, cum laude, from the University of Toledo College of Law. She is licensed to practice law in both Ohio and Michigan. Elizabeth recently agreed to work for one year as a staff attorney at the National Center for Agricultural Law, after which she plans to return to Michigan where her family operates an eight generation centennial farm.

Amanda Michelle Thomas received her B.A. degree in Economics with honors from the University of Central Arkansas and her J.D. degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law. She is licensed to practice law in Arkansas. This summer she is continuing her research involving the challenges faced by retail food outlets in securing and marketing local and organic foods.

K.C. Dupps Tucker received her B.A. degree in Drama/Political Science from Colorado College and her J.D. degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law. K.C. is licensed to practice law in the state of Arkansas and is an associate with the Bassett Law firm here in Fayetteville. The firm allowed her to take this academic year off to complete her LL.M. degree, and I am pleased to report that she not only completed all of her course work successfully, she finished her thesis last week. She reports back to work on Monday and will resume her work on the Oklahoma state litigation against Arkansas poultry companies. She will also be practicing in the area of food law and regulation.

Congratulations, LL.M. Class of 2008!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Food and Agriculture

The LL.M. Program had its last day of classes last Friday, and we celebrated the last day of the semester with the entire School of Law community with a Staff Appreciation all-school luncheon. Good home-style soul food was the fare, catered by a law school favorite, Momma Dean's.

It just takes a look at the headlines for a reminder of how fortunate we are.

The head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Josette Sheeran called for "urgent action to tackle the 'silent tsunami' of rising food prices which threatens to push more than 100 million people worldwide into hunger."

The PBS broadcast, News Hour reported a stern warning from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "If not handled properly, this crisis could result in a cascade of others ... and become a multidimensional problem affecting economic growth, social progress and even political security around the world." More than 34 countries experienced protest, unrest, or food riots within the last month.

Today marks the beginning of their multi-part series on the global food crisis Global Food Crisis: The New World of Soaring Food Prices.

Another critical policy issue to be debated in the LL.M. Program.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Video Conferencing Expands "Agricultural Perspectives"

Each spring, the LL.M. candidates are enrolled in a course entitled Agricultural Perspectives. In this course, we consider the rich and varied history of American agriculture and debate today's issues in the context of this history. We examine a wide range of social and economic issues considering their origin and how history is reflected in today's policies. Topics considered include agrarianism, land tenancy issues, slavery, sharecropping, farm structure, early farm activism, and the Dust Bowl.

This week, we had an opportunity to consider state efforts to restrict corporate farming, and we were delighted to host a live guest lecture from Assistant Professor Anthony Schutz via video conference from the University of Nebraska College of Law. Professor Schutz has researched extensively in the area of anti-corporate farming statutes and worked closely with the Nebraska legislature in its efforts to craft a statute consistent with the dormant commerce clause. Professor Schutz did an excellent job of framing the issues and presenting the complexity of the state's varied interests. Appreciation is extended to Professor Schutz and the University of Nebraska - Lincoln College of Law.

The use of video conferenced discussions allows the LL.M. Program to easily connect and interact with agricultural law experts world wide. Next year, we anticipate our use of this technology to increase, as the School of Law will have a newly remodeled dedicated video conference classroom to host our discussions.