Monday, December 21, 2009

Applied Sustainability Presentations

Part-time LL.M. candidate Marie David, Director of Sustainability at Wal-Mart and Dr. Jon Johnson, Executive Director of the Applied Sustainability Center, and the Walton Professor of Sustainability at the UA Walton College of Business joined in a presentation on sustainability initiatives and life cycle analysis in the food industry. Marie presented a PowerPoint presentation on Wal-Mart's sustainability efforts, and Dr. Johnson discussed the work of the Center for Applied Sustainability and the new Sustainability Consortium.
The Sustainability Consortium is an independent group of scientists and engineers from leading academic research institutions around the world who engage with other leading researchers from the NGO, Governmental and Industrial sectors. The primary function is to develop the science to support the indexing of consumer products throughout all phases of the products life.

The consortium is jointly administered by the University of Arkansas and the Arizona State University. Dr. Johnson serves as co-director along with Arizona State University's Dr. Jay Golden.
"The Sustainability Consortium develops transparent methodologies, tools and strategies to drive a new generation of products and supply networks that address environmental, social and economic imperatives. The Consortium advocates for a transparent process and system, not individuals or organizations."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Professor Lisa Pruitt Speaks on Rural Issues

Special Presentations: Rural-urban Identity Issues / CEDAW and Rural Women

Professor Lisa Pruitt, of U.C. Davis School of Law delivered two presentations, the first on rural-urban identity issues in the context of recent political divisions. The second involved rural women in developing countries and their role in food production. The latter presentation focused on her recent article, Migration, Development & the Promise of CEDAW for Rural Women, on Art.14 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, published in the MICHIGAN JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW. Professor Pruitt is an alumna of the University of Arkansas School of Law and was Editor-in-Chief of the Arkansas Law Review.
Professor Lisa Pruitt's career spans the globe, literally and figuratively. Before joining the UC Davis law faculty in 1999, she worked abroad for almost a decade in settings ranging from international organizations to private practice. Pruitt worked with lawyers in more than 30 countries, negotiating cultural conflicts in several arenas. It is not surprising that a common theme of her research interests is how law and legal institutions manage and respond to cultural difference and cultural change.
Professor Pruitt's work in rural studies, integrating the law and rural culture connects her to our work in agricultural and food law. She has been a great friend to the LL.M. Program and serves as a great inspiration to us. Be sure to follow her Legal Ruralism blog.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Making New Connections

Professor Christopher Kelley leaves tomorrow for the Republic of Belarus to teach a short course in Legal Writing in English at the Vlasova Mikhel & Partners law firm in Minsk, Belarus at the invitation of one of the partners, Alexey Anischenko. The firm was first established in 1990 by Lilia Vlasova and Natalia Kozyrenko as the first private practice law firm in the Republic of Belarus.

The firm now employs more than 20 lawyers. It has been recognized by the Ministry of Justice as one of the "best law firms in Belarus" for three consecutive years and it holds the international top ranking from both Chambers and Partners and IFLR 1000.

Vlasova Mikhel & Partners is part of "The CIS Leading Counsel Network (LCN), a professional network of nine leading law firms across the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) economic region offering clients integrated multijurisdictional legal advice. This network brings together law firms in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Turkmenistan and Ukraine, and "aims to combine highest international professional standards with a unique local insight in the regions, which are increasingly attracting international investments."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Anne Hazlett Accepts Position as Minority Counsel, Senate Ag Committee

LL.M. Alumnae, Anne Hazlett recently returned to Washington, D.C. to accept the position of Minority Counsel with the Senate Agriculture Committee. Anne previously served Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. Anne is pictured here on a recent farm visit.

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. Since that time, Anne has worked in a number of critical agricultural law positions including serving as counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee, previous work as minority counsel to the Senate Agriculture Committee, and serving as Chief of Staff to Indiana Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman.
Congratulations, Anne!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Prof. Kelley To Attend World Justice Forum in Vienna

Professor Christopher Kelley has been invited to participate in the second World Justice Forum to be held next week in Vienna, Austria. As noted on the Forum's website, "[p]rominent leaders from around the world will gather at this multidisciplinary invitation-only event to develop collaborative actions to strengthen the rule of law."

The World Justice Forum is "a global gathering at which prominent leaders from all parts of the world and a variety of disciplines come together to articulate how the rule of law affects their disciplines and regions and to develop collaborative actions to strengthen the rule of law." It is the largest international event hosted by the World Justice Project.

The World Justice Project is based on two complementary premises:
  • First, the rule of law is the foundation for communities of opportunity and equity; and
  • Second, multidisciplinary collaboration is the most effective way to advance the rule of law.Its stated mission is to lead a global, multidisciplinary effort to strengthen the rule of law for the development of communities of opportunity and equity.
To view a draft agenda for the 2009 World Justice Forum, click here. More posts to come, and hopefully some pictures from the Forum.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dr. Jeff Pettis Speaks to LL.M. Class on Pollinators

From PBS Nature, The Silence of the Bees -
In the winter of 2006/2007, more than a quarter of the country’s 2.4 million bee colonies — accounting for tens of billions of bees — were lost to CCD, Colony Collapse Disorder. This loss is projected have an $8 billion to $12 billion effect on America’s agricultural economy, but the consequences of CCD could be far more disastrous.

The role honeybees play in our diet goes beyond honey production. These seemingly tireless creatures pollinate about one-third of crop species in the U.S. Honeybees pollinate about 100 flowering food crops including apples, nuts, broccoli, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, celery, squash and cucumbers, citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, melons, as well as animal-feed crops, such as the clover that’s fed to dairy cows. Essentially all flowering plants need bees to survive.

Last Friday in the Emerging Issues in Food Law class, Dr. Jeff Pettis, one of the lead scientists featured in The Silence of the Bees addressed the class via teleconference. As research leader of the USDA-ARS Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Dr. Pettis leads a team effort to improve colony health by limiting the impact of pests and diseases on honey bee colonies. His research areas include; IPM techniques to reduce the impacts of parasitic mites and disease, effects of pesticides and pathogens on queen health and longevity, host-parasite relationships and bee behavior. Additionally, he serves as the lead coordinator for a new 5-year ARS Areawide program to improve colony health. Dr. Pettis received an undergraduate and MS degree from the University of Georgia and his doctoral degree in Entomology from Texas A&M University in 1992.

Dr. Pettis narrated his PowerPoint presentation on CCD and pollinator health overall and answered questions from the class. It was an informative and fascinating discussion, albeit one that raised many concerns about the future and how to best protect critical pollinators.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ag & Food Law Community on Kiva

Lisa Schreurs gave me a wonderful present last Spring - a gift certificate with Kiva. What better present for someone who teaches Agricultural Finance & Credit. In class, we discuss the need for capital in agricultural operations, the legal issues that arise in financing transactions, and the impact of financial stresses on farming operations. Most of the U.S. cases we study involve fairly significant sums of money.

Kiva, a non-profit micro-finance organization offers both a similarity and a difference. The similarity is the need that farmers have for financing for their businesses. The difference is that the loans needed are so small.

Kiva's mission is "to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty" and works to achieve this goal through a "person-to-person micro-lending website." On the Kiva website, you can browse entrepreneurs' profiles and decide who you would like to lend to. Loans are made through local micro-finance institutions approved by Kiva. The website provides transparent data regarding the institutions, the actual loans, and repayment track records.

During the course of the loan period, you receive periodic updates, and when your loan is repaid, you can relend to someone else.

One of my first loans was to Carmen in Peru. Here is the description that was provided to me.

Carmen is a member of the Banco Comunal Renacer. She is 55 years old, married, and has 6 children. Carmen travels to the region's different fairs to sell fruits and vegetables. She also buys cereals from the fair, which she later sells at the provisions market in the city of Ayacucho. In addition to all this, Carmen also sells wool out of her house. Carmen needs a loan of 2,000 soles, which will be invested in the purchase of wool and cereals. Carmen's dreams are to provide a good education to her children and to improve her business.
Last April, I signed up to offer a small loan; twenty-one others also participated. The total loan that Carmen needed was $675. Soon after she got the loan, she began paying it back. On October 16, Carmen paid back the last installment - $16.66, the loan was fully repaid. It is now available for making a loan to another.

My best wishes to Carmen; my thanks to the entrepreneurs that started Kiva and the organizations that keep it running so well; and my challenge to readers - make a Kiva loan to someone in the farming or food-related business.

I just set up an Ag & Food Law Community on Kiva. Anyone who makes a Kiva loan is welcome to count their loan as part of our community. All lending decisions are your own - it is just a way to show that the agricultural and food law community supports farmers and other food providers world wide. I posted this invitation on the aglaw blog as well. I suspect that anyone who participates will feel the same sense of satisfaction that I did.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Video Conference With Michael Roberts

LL.M. Alumnus Michael Roberts addressed the Emerging Issues in Food Law LL.M. class last week via live video-conference from his office in Los Angeles, California. Michael serves as Associate General Counsel for Government Relations & International Affairs for Roll International Corporation & Affiliates.
Roll is a privately held corporation with diverse global interests including agriculture, consumer packaged goods, and floral services. Among Roll's businesses are Paramount Farms, the world’s largest vertically integrated grower and processor of pistachios and almonds; Paramount Citrus, the largest integrated grower, shipper and packer of fresh citrus in the U.S.; Pom Wonderful, the global pomegranite producer and processor; FIJI® Water, the No. 1 imported bottled water brand in the United States; and, Suterra, one of the largest biorational pest control providers in the world. Suterra's mission is "researching, developing and commercializing environmentally sound products using naturally occurring compounds and biochemicals such as pheromones."
Michael first reported to the class on his participation in the World Food Prize Symposium last week in Des Moinies, Iowa, relating the inspiring story of this year's World Food Prize Laureate, Dr. Gebisa Ejeta. He then discussed the issue of private food standards in the context of international law and concluded with a presentation of his recent article on economic adulteration, focusing on problems associated with the pomegranite industry in Turkey. It was an interesting and informative presentation.

We were delighted to have Michael back with us through the use of the School of Law's impressive new video-conferencing capabilities and hope to do more conferences throughout the year.

Janie Hipp Serves as the New Director of RME

LL.M. Alumus, Janie Hipp has moved from her position as a National Program Leader at CSREES/USDA to now serve as Director of the Risk Management Education Division in USDA's Risk Management Agency. Her office continues to be in Washington, D.C., although she also maintains her home and her network of friends and colleagues here in Northwest Arkansas. Janie made a presentation on her work to last year's LL.M. class and has agreed to do a repeat performance again this year. Congratulations, Janie!

As explained on the USDA website for the Risk Management Agency, "The mission of Risk Management Education (RME) is to lead a comprehensive educational program that assists producers and agribusinesses in understanding their increased risk exposure and responsibility in the current economic environment; to understand and make effective use of risk management tools and strategies, and to integrate these strategies in decisionmaking that enables them to meet business, personal and community goals."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Report from FLAG Board Meeting

I just returned home from Georgia where I participated in the Farmers Legal Action Group, Inc. (FLAG) Board meeting. I have served on the FLAG Board pro bono for just over a year.

FLAG is "a nonprofit law center dedicated to providing legal services to family farmers and their rural communities in order to help keep family farmers on the land."

FLAG's work on behalf of minority farmers is reflected in the most recent elections to the board. They are Phil Baird, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and the Vice-President of Academic, Career & Technical Education at the United Tribes Technical College in North Dakota; May Lee, a Hmong farmer with a certified organic farming operation through the Minnesota Food Association's New Immigrants in Agriculture Project, Jerry Pennick, Director of the Land Assistance Fund of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, and Linda Yardley, an Outreach Liaision with the National FSA American Indian Credit Outreach Initiative.

Former board member, Shirley Sherrod joined us for a special soul food dinner. Shirley has been a long time champion of black farmers through her work with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund and the Southern Rural Black Women's Initiative. Shirley left the board because of her new position as Georgia's head of the USDA Rural Development office. She is pictured here with her "Family Farm Champion" award.

LL.M. alumni may recognize Shirley from the documentary that we watch each year in Agricultural Perspectives, Homecoming.

Shirley's husband, civil rights leader Charles Sherrod joined us and told a moving story of the history of the civil rights struggle in Albany.

On the way home, I made a point of stopping at the Vann Farms market. It is run by Frank Vann's son Scott. Chris Kelley used to work with Frank Vann at the Vann Law Office in Camilla, Georgia. It was nice to be in beautiful Southwest Georgia again and to taste some of the "farm fresh" produce at the farm stand. I brought home some fresh pecans for Chris.

Special thanks to Rita Capes from FLAG for the nice photographs. Rita was my travel companion on the drive from the Tallahassee, Florida airport to Albany, Georgia and made the trip even more enjoyable.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Report from the Ohio Conference

Last Friday, I spoke at the Ohio Agricultural Law Symposium, held at the new Nationwide Ohio Farm Bureau 4H Center, a beautifully designed LEED certified building on The Ohio State Campus. The pictures highlight just a few of the "green" features. 1) Some of the building's structure, including studs and girders, was made from recycled steel. Its highly reflective roofs helps to ease summer cooling costs. 2) Ninety-percent of the center’s space has natural light, reducing the energy needed for artificial light.

Prior to the conference, I had an opportunity to meet with a wonderful group of Ohio students. We discussed "agricultural law" as it is sometimes misunderstood in non-agricultural communities. And, we discussed ways of recasting the description of our work in a more inclusive manner to better portray the diversity and the complexity. This discussion and the students' perspectives reaffirmed the wisdom of our decision to expand the name of the LL.M. Program to Agricultural and Food Law. And, our discussion of the need for additional coursework nationwide inspired me to press on with my agricultural and food law book.

We also discussed ways that universities can better teach the challenging and relevant subjects included within agricultural and food law. The students had excellent ideas for interdisciplinary approaches and distance collaborations, as well as innovative suggestions for bridging the gap between rural and non-rural residents. My thanks to long-time agricultural law and friend, Paul Wright for his support through the Paul L. Wright Chair Fund in Agricultural Law for the scholarships provided to the students, enabling them to attend the conference.

At the conference, I was delighted at the enthusiasm that participants had for learning more about food law. There were so many excellent questions raised regarding food safety issues, I had to rush through some of the other parts of my PowerPoint presentation. It is always a pleasure to address an engaged audience.

I was delighted to see our alumnus, David Pryor at the conference. David includes agricultural law as one of his areas of practice; he is a partner at Gallagher, Gams, Pryor, Tallan & Littrell in Columbus and also serves as an adjunct professor at Capital University. David reminisced about his days in the LL.M. Program, and in particular, his work as a research assistant for then Director, Professor Pedersen. He commented that Professor Pedersen had instilled in him a work ethic that has stayed with him throughout his legal career, an observation that I personally share. We agreed that Professor Pedersen made a profoundly positive impact on the lives of all of his students. For this, we are all very grateful.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Professor Schneider Speaks at Ohio State CLE

This nice update on my travels, taken from The Ohio Ag News posted on the Ohio Ag Connection:

Ohio State Hosts Conference for Ag Attorneys
Ohio Ag Connection - 10/05/2009

An upcoming conference at the Ohio State University aims to help educate agricultural attorneys, who must cover a range of legal issues.

"Agricultural law is a fascinating and complex field," said Peggy Hall of Ohio State University's Agricultural and Resource Law Program, housed in the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. "As agricultural attorneys, we must understand laws ranging from climate change to animal welfare. Staying current is extremely important."

The second annual Ohio Agricultural Law Symposium will be held Friday at Ohio State's Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center in Columbus, Ohio. Attorneys will receive Continuing Legal Education credit for attending the day-long program.

Justice Paul Pfeifer will address the conference with an update from the Ohio Supreme Court. He will be joined by U.S. District Court Judge Greg Frost and Common Pleas Judge Mark O'Connor for a panel discussion on agriculture in the courts. Robert Boggs, director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, will provide an update, and Susan Schneider, professor of the University of Arkansas Graduate Program in Agricultural Law, will speak on current issues in food law.

"Food law is a quickly evolving area impacting agriculture," Hall said. "Few attorneys understand the breadth of food law issues like Professor Schneider."

Presentations on the impact of climate change regulation on agriculture and a survey of farm animal welfare laws will round out the program.

The conference is a partnership between Ohio State University and the Ohio State Bar Association.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dr. Rudy Nayga Speaking on Nutrition, Obesity & Health

Dr. Rudy Nayga, Professor and Tyson Chair in Food Policy Economics, Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food, and Life Sciences will be speaking to the Emerging Issues in Food Law class October 2, 2009. Dr. Nayga will be discussing his article, Nutrition, Obesity and Health: Policies and Economic Research Challenges, published last year in the European Review of Agricultural Economics.

Dr. Nayga's research interests are focused on the economics of food policy and quality and on obtaining an understanding of how emerging consumer issues affect food and nutrient consumption/demand and public policies. Current and recent topics include product and program valuation related to GMOs, irradiated foods, health claims, nutritional label use and diet quality, obesity, intra-household time/resource allocation and children's dietary behavior.

Dr. Nayga received his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University. Prior to joining the University of Arkansas last year, he was a professor at Texas A&M University for 11 years. He also was a faculty member at Rutgers University for 4 years and at Massey University, New Zealand for about a year. He was a visiting professor and Fulbright Senior Scholar at the Marketing and Consumer Behavior department of Wageningen University, The Netherlands in Spring 2001 and Taiwan National Science Council Fellow at the National Taiwan University in April 2008. He has published more than 140 refereed articles and is a frequent speaker both in the U.S. and Europe.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Highlights from the AALA Conference

The American Agricultural Law Association conference was held on September 25-26 in Williamsburg, Virginia. Once again, we were able to provide financial assistance to our LL.M. candidates, and seven of them attended the conference. Their agricultural and food law posters were on display at the conference, and they had an opportunity to interact with the over two hundred attorneys at the conference.

Twenty-six alumni from the LL.M. Program were also at the conference, and in many cases they were willing to provide helpful assistance and suggestions to our current candidates. It was great to see our alumni and catch up on their accomplishments. And, they were very helpful in our recruiting efforts, answering questions and telling interested law students and lawyers about the Program.

We were proud to have eleven of our alumni as participants in the conference. Jeff Peterson, an attorney with Gray, Plant, Mooty (St. Cloud and Minneapolis, MN) and I both presented during the first day of plenary sessions. Jeff provided the Bankruptcy Law Update, and I provided the Food Law Update. Beth Crocker, Counsel for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture was the moderator for the Update panel. Doug O'Brien, Chief of Staff for USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan accompanied Secretary Vilsack to the conference for his role as key note speaker, one of the highlights of the conference. As a past President of the AALA, I was honored to be seated at the head table with the Secretary and other AALA representatives.

Other alumni presenters included:
  • Terry Centner, Professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics,University of Georgia;
  • Marne Coit, Agricultural Policy Consultant and Apple Seeds Board Member, Fayetteville, Arkansas;
  • Janie Hipp, Director, Risk Management Education Division, USDA Risk Management Agency;
  • Martha Noble, Senior Policy Associate with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition in Washington, D.C.;
  • Ross Pifer, Director of the Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center at The Penn State Dickinson School of Law;
  • Michael Roberts, Senior Counsel, International Affairs, Roll International Corporation
  • Rusty Rumley, Staff Attorney, National Agricultural Law Center.
Our visiting faculty were also prominent participants in the conference, with Neil Hamilton, Professor, Drake University Law School and Director of the Drake Agricultural Law Center and David Grahn, Office of General Counsel, USDA both presenting updates during the first day of plenary sessions.

The National Agricultural Law Center was well represented, with Director Harrison Pittman, and attorneys Shannon Mirus, Rusty Rumley, Beth Springsteen and Paul Goeringer in attendance.

Pictured below are Secretary Vilsack with President of the AALA, Ted Feishans, North Carolina State University at the luncheon and later that evening, LL.M. alumni Craig Raysor and Jeff Peterson.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Professor Kelley Attends Moscow Conference

Professor Christopher Kelley serves as co-chair of the Russia/Eurasia Committee of the ABA International Law Section. This coming week, the section is sponsoring an international seminar in Moscow, Resolution of Russia-Related Business Disputes: The Next Wave Conference. The Conference will bring together members of the global legal community for a series of program sessions, followed by a reception at Spaso House. Topics will include:
  • Arbitration in Russia: The Current State of Play and Prospects for the Future;
  • Investment Treaty Arbitration: A Strategic Option or Legal Defense?
  • Russians Abroad: The Experience of Russian Companies in Foreign Litigation and Arbitration; and
  • Related Civil and Criminal Proceedings in Russia.
Professor Kelley left for Moscow this morning to attend the seminar and will be back Tuesday evening.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

LLM Alum, Brandon Willis Appointed to USDA Position

LL.M. alumnus, Brandon Willis was recently appointed to the position of Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs (DAFP). Brandon will oversee all FSA programs under the Production Emergencies and Compliance Division (PECD), Conservation and Environmental Programs Division (CEPD), and Price Support Division (PSD). Prior to his appointment as DAFP, he was a confidential assistant in the USDA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services. Before joining FSA, Willis served as the Agriculture Legislative Assistant for U.S. Senator Max Baucus, a position he took after completing his LL.M. coursework.

Brandon grew up on a third generation sheep ranch in northern Utah and managed his family’s raspberry farm, Bursting Berries. He earned his bachelor’s degree in crop and soil science from Utah State University in Logan, Utah, and his law degree from the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyo. He attended the LL.M. program in 2004-05 and served as a Graduate Assistant for the National Center for Ag Law. He completed his thesis last summer and received his LL.M. degree in August.

Congratulations, Brandon!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Highlights From the Bill Marler Visit

Celebrating both our 30th class and the inclusion of "Food Law" into our name and curriculum, the School of Law was delighted to host Bill Marler, food safety expert and food poisoning litigator.

Mr. Marler taught the two-hour Food Law & Policy class Friday morning to a packed room. Faculty, students, and representatives from the food industry throughout Northwest Arkansas were in attendance as Mr. Marler delivered an excellent presentation on his food borne illness litigation practice. His PowerPoint presentation not only covered the legal fundamentals but provided a moving tribute to the suffering of his clients, people severely injured and permanently disabled by food borne illness.

Following his class, Mr. Marler met with Archie Schaffer III, Executive VP Corporate Affairs, Tyson Foods, Inc., and Christine Daugherty, an attorney with Tyson’s Legal Department to discuss Tyson Foods' safety initiatives. And, he met the director and staff of the National Center for Agricultural Law, a research center at the School of Law.

Mr. Marler had lunch with our LL.M. candidates and conducted an informal question and answer session. Questions ranged from specific inquiries about his cases and his clients to broad issues of public policy and ethics. His visit was capped off with a session with the J.D. staff and candidates for the Journal of Food Law & Policy.

Mr. Marler's visit was inspiring not only because of his incredible success as a litigator but because of what he does with that success. As a tireless advocate for food safety reform, new food safety initiatives, and more effective regulation of food borne illness, he is using both his fame and his fortune to improve our food system. For example, the Marler blog has become a central source of information, and beginning Monday, September 14, he launches a new online newspaper, Food Safety News. And, he will be sponsoring the China International Food Safety & Quality Conference November 4-5 2009 in Bejing.

We are grateful for Mr. Marler's visit and hope we will have the opportunity for collaboration in the future.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Bill Marler to Visit LL.M. Program

We will be delighted to host Bill Marler, noted personal injury lawyer and national expert in foodborne illness litigation, on Friday, Sept. 11. Mr. Marler will be speaking to our Food Law & Policy class and our Emerging Issues in Food Law class.

Bill Marler has been a major force in food safety policy. He and his partners at Marler Clark have represented thousands of individuals in claims against food companies whose contaminated products have caused serious injury and death. They have secured more than $300 million for their client victims. But, Marler's work extends beyond litigation. His advocacy for better food regulation has led to invitations to address local, national, and international gatherings on food safety, including recent testimony to US Congress Committee on Energy and Commerce. The non-profit corporation that he founded, Outbreak provides advice and consultation to the industry in an effort to prevent future illness. Among his many honors is the 2008 Public Justice Award, given to him by the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association.

Marler was recently quoted in the Washington Post article, This Woman Might Die From Eating Cookie Dough, Severe Case Gives Context to Issue of Food Safety.

The Food Law & Policy presentation, from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. in room 342 of the School of Law is open to the public. The second class will provide a special opportunity for the LL.M. candidates to meet with him.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

LL.M. Program in Agricultural and Food Law

I am pleased to announce that we received the final administrative approval for our name, and we can now officially describe ourselves as

The LL.M. Program in
Agricultural and Food Law

This change does not affect what anyone's degree is - those who have their LL.M. degree proudly mounted on their office wall note that the degree conferred is a Masters of Laws degree. That remains the same. What will change is our ability to expand our outreach to those interested in food law - recruiting candidates and assisting in career placement. For while agricultural law has always been intertwined with food law, not everyone has understood the connection.

It is interesting to recall that when former Dean and Distinguished Professor Emeritus Jake Looney started the LL.M. Program, Professors Neil Hamilton and Rob Leflar taught Food & Drug Law as part of the initial curriculum.

Over the years, the LL.M. curriculum has shifted to address the needs and interests of the times, and with food law emerging as a significant area of focus in both practice and popular culture, our curriculum has expanded in that direction. We now offer Introduction to the Law of Food & Agriculture, Food Law & Policy, Emerging Issues in Food Law, and Selected Issues in Food Law. Agricultural Biotechnology, Agricultural Perspectives, and Agricultural Labor Law all have significant food law related components. Indeed, the production of food is one of the most significant reasons why agricultural law as a special discipline exists.

We hope that by changing the way we identify ourselves, we can explain connections that have too often been missed - farming is largely about the production of food, and food law is about the path that food takes, as they say, from the farm to fork. And, we can further our course offerings and opportunities to include more work in the area of international food law, global trade in food, and world food security issues.

Food law as an area of legal study, policy development, and legal practice is an exciting and emerging emphasis - with an increasing need for legal expertise.

Please join us in spreading the word about The LL.M. Program in Agricultural and Food Law. We are the only advanced legal degree program in either agricultural law or food law.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Meet the New LL.M. Class

Joshua Bailey
B.A., English, Ouahita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas
J.D., University of Arkansas School of Law, Fayetteville, Arkansas

In law school, Josh was the President of the UA School of Law Environmental Law Society and in that role organized the multi-state environmental law conference held at the School of Law in 2007. He was a semi-finalist in the Benjamin J. Altheimer Moot Court competition, and he has significant clerkship experience in Arkansas and Texas. This experience includes work on “green technologies” involving agriculture, the legal issues involving concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), oil and gas law, and environmental litigation under the Clean Water Act and CERCLA. Josh is currently drafting an article on the state regulation of the environmental impacts of natural gas production.

Liliana Reyes Botero
Attorney at Law, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogota, Columbia
Specialist in Research, Legal Theory, Facult├ęs Universitaires Saint Louis, Brussels, Belgium (Doctoral Formation in process)

Liliana is from a farming family in Columbia, and her experiences with rural peasants, poverty, and corruption led her to pursue a career in law. She worked with FINAGRO (Fondo para el Financiameinto del Sector Agropecuario in the Agricultural Fund of Securities and was promoted to the Legal Vice Presidency. In 2008, Liliana was selected to participate in the USDA sponsored Cochran Fellowship Program in Good Agricultural Practices at the University of California at Davis.

Prior to coming to Arkansas, Liliana has been pursuing the degree of specialist in research in legal theory offered by the European Academy of Legal Theory in Brussels, Belgium. This distinguished program is hosted by the Facult├ęs Universitaires Saint Louis, with classes in English and French that are taught by professors from different universities throughout the world (USA, other countries of Europe, Latin America, Australia, and India. She presented the dissertation of her thesis in late July.

Also during the last year, to maintain her connections to the agricultural sector, Liliana completed two online Columbian courses, Good Agricultural Practices and Agriecology and Rural Development through .

Emily Bridges
B.A. in Political Science, magna cum laude, Lyon College, Batesville, Arkansas
J.D., University of Arkansas School of Law, Fayetteville, Arkansas

This past year, Emily served as a special research assistant to Professor Tim Tarvin working on the Legal e-source project. This award-winning project undertaken by the School of Law Legal Clinic and UA Continuing Education provides legal information to non-profit entities. During law school, Emily served as the student editor of the Journal of Islamic Law & Culture. She externed with Arkansas Circuit Court Judge David Clinger and clerked with two law firms in Fayetteville. She is admitted to the Arkansas bar.

Marie David
Diploma in Teaching and Counseling, Teachers Training College, Benin, Nigeria
LL.B. University of Benin, Benin, Nigeria
Barrister-at-law, Nigerian Law School, Victoria Island, Lagos Nigeria

Marie serves as the Director of Sustainability at Wal-Mart, working with business units across Wal-Mart stores to implement sustainability initiatives. She coordinates efforts with private brand categories to pilot the Wal-Mart sustainability index initiative and integrates social Life Cycle Analysis and social metrics into the broad definition of sustainability. She is working to develop a business model that connects small scale entrepreneurs with global supply chains, focusing on providing value and market access. Prior to her current position, Marie served sequentially as Project Specialist for Global Supply Chain Management, then Social Responsibility Manager, and then as Director of Social Responsibility.

Marie first learned about the LL.M. Program through her work with our alumnus, Erimar Von Der Osten and his work with the Agile Agriculture project of the UA Center for Applied Sustainability. She is particularly interested in our work in agricultural sustainability, agricultural labor law, and international rural development initiatives. As Marie will retain her full time position with Wal-Mart, she will join us on a part time basis.

Nastasya Knyazhishcheva
Diploma in Law, Velikiy Novgorod State University (high honors)St. Petersburg, Russia

Nastasya enters the program with a strong background in Russian commercial and real estate law. Before joining us, she served as a junior attorney in the St. Petersburg office of the American company, Capital Legal Services, LLC., where her work included the review and preparation of civil agreements, contract negotiations, and licensing arrangements. Prior to this position, she was employed as a specialist of the Corporate Department where she worked on commercial offers for Japanese investors. She has also served as Assistant of Registrar with the Department of Justice on Registration of Ownership Title to Real Estate and Transactions Therewith, and worked at the Federal City Court for the city of Novgorod. She published her masters thesis, The Role of Zemstro in Medicine of XIX Century in Russia, in the University Journal and received a second place award for it. She has received letters of commendation for her legal research. Nastasya is particularly interested in agribusiness and commercial law as applied to the food and agricultural industries.

Baylen Linnekin
B.A., Sociology, American University, Washington D.C.
M.A., Learning Sciences, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
J.D., American University Washington College of Law, Washington, D.C.

Baylen was a Note and Comment editor for the ADMINISTRATIVE LAW REVIEW at American University Washington College of Law. Prior to law school, he received his Masters degree in Learning Sciences and worked extensively in education and technology. He used this expertise in law school in his role as research assistant, creating digital media simulations for use in law school courses. He is co-authoring an article on the outcome of classroom simulation exercises.

Baylen’s interest in food and agriculture is well documented. He has been active on food policy issues for some time, writing, publishing, and blogging on current issues. His recent publications include, Parents: The One-Ingredient Recipe for Healthier Children, and The ‘Duckathlon’ Pushes Back Against NYC’s Anti-Food Tyranny. Last Spring, Baylen was a panelist at the Joint Annual Meeting of the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society and the Association for the Study of Food & Society held at Penn State University; and he was also a panelist at the 12th Annual Association for the Study of Law, Culture & the Humanities Conference at Suffolk University School of Law.

Danny (Walt) McCarter
B.S., Agri-business, Arkansas Tech University, Russellville, Arkansas
J.D., University of Arkansas School of Law, Fayetteville, Arkansas

Walt does valuable work for the National Ag Law Center, University of Arkansas School of Law, serving as Research Associate and preparing cases for posting on the aglaw website. In addition, he clerks with the Bassett Law firm, a Fayetteville law firm with a recognized agricultural law practice. Walt has experience in the food industry, as prior to law school, he was the Production Supervisor for Atkins Prepared Foods in Atkins, Arkansas, supervising 75 employees and two processing lines. There he conducted employee meetings, set work schedules, verified payroll, documented injuries, handled suspension and termination procedures, and prepared daily production reports.

Suzanne McMillan
B.A., Sociology/Anthropology Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana
Certificate in International Law, Pace Univ. London Law Program, London, England
J.D., Pace University School of Law, White Plains, New York

Suzanne was the recipient of the Pace Law School Academic Achievement Scholarship, the Louise and Lawrence Ottinger Public Interest Law Scholarship, and the Charles H. Revson Student Public Interest Fellowship. She has a strong background and interest in the issue of animal law and animal welfare. She is the Founder and was the President of the Pace Student Animal Legal Defense Fund. She worked closely with two of her law professors on the Pace Law School Animal Law blog and, she interned with the Equal Justice Alliance in researching the constitutionality of the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. She also served as an intern for the Westchester County District Attorney, working on animal cruelty prosecutions. She spent her last semester of law school studying European and comparative international law in London through the Pace University London Law Program, earning a certificate in international law.

Vivek Nemane
B.S., Horticulture, College of Horticulture, Maharashtra State Agricultural University (PDKV), Maharashtra, India
LL.B., Indian Law Society’s Law College, University of Pune, Pune (Maharashtra), India
LL.M. , International Law and Human Rights, Criminal Law and Criminology Department of Law, University of Pune, Pune (Maharashtra), India
M.A. in Development Studies, Specialization: Governance and Democracy, International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, The Netherlands
M.A. in Public Policy, Specialization: International Public Policy, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Vivek is currently finishing up an internship with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN at the regional office for Europe and central Asia in Budapest, Hungary. He was the recipient of the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship by the European Commission, and he received his Diploma in European Union Law, through the European Public Law Center, Athens under the EU-India POROS Project funded by the European Commission.

In addition to Vivek’s academic achievements, he has significant agricultural experience, serving in the positions of Farm Manager and Plant Nursery Supervisor, as well as working with the Regional Fruit Research Station.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

LL.M. Degrees Awarded

I am pleased to report that a record number of past LL.M. candidates submitted final drafts of their completed articles this summer, and we are proud to announce that they have been awarded the Master of Laws degree. And, I am also pleased to report that the class of 2006 met their goal of having a 100% graduation rate.

Congratulations to Brandon Willis (Washington, D.C.) , Patrick Roberts (Mississippi), Angela Galvis Schnuerle (Texas), Sarah Massimore Buhite (Pennsylvania), Cara McCarthy (Washington, D.C.), Shannon Mirus (Arkansas), Elizabeth Springsteen (Arkansas), Rusty Rumley (Arkansas), Ashley Schweizer (Kentucky), Regina Leal de Oliveira (Brazil), and Irina Feofanova (Russia).

Great work - congratulations!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Welcome to the Incoming LL.M. Class - Our 30th Class of LL.M. Candidates

Monday, August 17 marks the first day of the 2009-10 academic year for the LL.M. Program. In an orientation session scheduled for 8:00 a.m., we will welcome our new class. After orientation, Professor Neil Hamilton will begin our first course, The Introduction to the Law of Food & Agriculture.

This year promises to be special in two respects. First, this class is the 30th LL.M. class to have attended the Program. We hope to use our 30th anniversary to recall the history of the Program, to show appreciation to everyone who has made the Program such a success, and to look to the future - a future where agricultural law is even more fully recognized as a critical area of legal study.

Second, we hope to announce a change in the descriptive title of our program to LL.M. in Agricultural and Food Law, reflecting the inseparable bond between food and farming, between farmers and those who purchase the fruits of their labor.

We have an exceptional group of LL.M. candidates in the Program this year. They come from American University Washington College of Law, Washington, D.C.; Lewis & Clark School of Law in Portland, Oregon; Pace University School of Law, White Plains, New York; Novgorod State University, St. Petersburg, Russia; Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogota, Columbia; Nigerian Law School, Victoria Island, Lagos Nigeria; Indian Law Society’s Law College, University of Pune, Pune (Maharashtra), India; Gujarat National Law University, Gandhiinagar, Gujarat, India; and, our own University of Arkansas School of Law. I will introduce them individually in a subsequent post. We are delighted to have them with us, and they promise to continue the excellent tradition of success established by our alumni.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Agile Agriculture Summit at the University of Arkansas

On June 30 & July 1, 2009, I represented the LL.M. Program at the Agile Agriculture Summit sponsored by the University of Arkansas Applied Sustainability Center. This Summit was designed to bring together diverse stakeholders in order to design and launch projects bridging the gap between the market desire for local food products and the lack of access to local food sources on the part of retail markets. Bridging this gap should produce positive benefits for agricultural producers, food distributors and retailers, and consumers.

The Sustainability Center issued the following press release explaining the outcome of the Summit:

The Summit was structured and facilitated using the Appreciative Inquiry process to quickly form teams and design discrete, measurable projects. All projects take into account the foundations of Agile Agriculture:
  • Promoting sustainable agricultural production systems
  • Ensuring profitability to producers and distributors
  • Providing social benefits of local food
  • Delivering healthy products to consumers
The product of the Agile Agriculture Summit is a set of projects, each of which will be implemented by a multi‐disciplinary team.
  • Governance‐creation of necessary structures and processes to support the overall program (funding, organization, etc.) and provide project management resources to insure long‐term viability.
  • Policy‐ Creation (or assistance in creation) of a federal inter‐departmental and inter‐agency task force to address opportunities and challenges in areas including farmer support, regional food infrastructure, health & nutrition, extension & education, regulatory issues, tax policy and transportation.
  • Agriprenuership‐creation of a farming incubator infrastructure to enable new and existing producers in development of successful farming systems and marketing enterprises that are adapted to local ecological and social characteristics.
  • Entrepreneurial Livestock Business Model‐ creation and development of a business model to serve as a resource, focused on regional processing facilities and diverse branded products.
  • Production Technology‐ assessment and development of small and medium scale production and processing technologies.
  • Supply Chain Transparency‐ harmonizing fresh produce GAP (Good Agricultural Practice) audit standards into an accepted industry‐wide system.
  • Financing the Food Shed‐ helping the existing infrastructure to assist & support the needs of the new and developing food systems
  • Social Benefits – Collection of primary and secondary data to assess social benefits of local food systems in four pilot locations.
  • Consumer Engagement‐ designing a regional information network in a model community that promotes dialogue and empowers and informs consumers to enable them to make healthy food choices for their families and communities.
  • Produce Hub‐development of a successful fresh produce distribution hub.
  • Marketing and Finance Education‐ education development and deployment to value chain participants that will insure appropriate decisions regarding engagement in emerging marketing venues.

Support for the Summit was provided by the University of Arkansas Applied Sustainability Center; Wal‐Mart Stores, Inc.; the National Agricultural Law Center at the University of Arkansas School of Law; the University of Arkansas Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability; the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University School of Law; Wallace Center/Winrock International; L&M Companies Inc.; Michigan State University; University of Wisconsin; Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group; National Center for Appropriate Technology; and University of Nebraska.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Agricultural Law Brief by Ross Pifer, LL.M. Program Alumnus

LL.M. Alumnus, Ross Pifer serves as the Director of the Penn State Dickinson Agricultural Law Center.  The Center publishes a periodic newsletter called the Agricultural Law Brief that provides a good source of information on agricultural law topics.  The most recent issue includes information on The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009; The American Clean Energy and Security Act; Legislation proposing to modify Pennsylvania's Clean and Green program as it relates to natural gas drilling; The European Union's revision of humane slaughter regulations; and The Natural Gas Severance Tax Act.  Check out the newsletter and other information available at the Center's website.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Local Foods Campaign in South Carolina

We have been delighted to hear from Beth Crocker, General Counsel to the Department of Agriculture in South Carolina, and an alumnus of the LL.M. Program. Beth has been keeping us informed about the very successful local food movement that the SC Department of Agriculture is fostering - they offer South Carolina (SC) certified labeling and are sponsoring the Palmettovore campaign. South Carolina is the "Palmetto State" and Palmetovores is a take-off on locavores to apply to those who seek to eat SC produced and processed foods. One of the most entertaining aspects of their campaign are the SC fruit rallies and accompanying videos. I encourage you to check out their website and the wonderful video they produced. It is one of the best done and entertaining campaigns I have seen. I love Tom Tomato. Beth, can you get me an autographed photo? The campaign is fun, and the message is great. And, their efforts were recently showcased in an informative television special on South Carolina Public Television, Farming in South Carolina. Great work, Beth.

Twitter Comes to the Aglawllm Blog

Our adventure with new technology and social media continues. My apologies for not posting more often this summer. The rush of graduation activities (including thesis editing), preparing for the incoming class, and work on summer writing projects has left little time to spare. I have been posting updates to our aglawllm Twitter account, however, and thanks to the suggestion of Dean Jim Chen, Cardinal Lawyer blogger and J.C. Redbird Tweater extraordinaire, learned that I can link our twitter feed to this blog. You should see it immediately to the right of this post. One way or another, we are determined to keep everyone that is interested well informed about our work! Feel free to subscribe to this blog and/or to join us on Twitter.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Biosafety Discussion with Ukraine

In another of our exchange activities with Ukraine, today I was honored to participate in the ninth and final Digital Video Conference (DVC) of the academic year. These DVCs provide for open debate and a discussion of current legal issues between our faculty and the faculty of some of the top universities in Ukraine. Today, the topic was The Cartegena Protocol on Biosafety and genetically modified organisms in food products. We discussed regulatory mechanisms, labeling issues, consumer interests and potential civil liabilities. Others participating on behalf of the University of Arkansas School of Law were Professors Christopher Kelley, Sharon Foster, Rob Leflar, and Steve Shepherd, along with graduating LL.M. Candidate, Jennifer Fiser. Special thanks to the U.S. Embassy for arranging for the DVCs this year.

Appreciation is extended to our IT department, led by Library Director, Professor Randy Thompson. Randy, Bob Wheeler, and others have made these DVCs run smoothly all year. We hope to use more DVCs next year in the LL.M. Program to bring the best experts in the world into our classrooms.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Professor Kelley Teaches at Kyiv University

Professor Kelley will be in Ukraine this week teaching at Kyiv University, officially known as the National Taras Shevchenko University of Kyiv.

Kyiv University is named after Taras Shevchenko, acclaimed Ukrainian poet, prose writer, painter and playwright of the 19th century. The University's origin dates back to the middle of the 17th century, and its reputation today transcends well beyond the boundaries of Ukraine. It is recognized as the number one university in Ukraine, and it consists of more departments (faculties) than any other school in the country. Since the time of its founding, the University has been recognized for promoting progressive ideas, shaping Ukrainian intellect, and fostering freedom and national liberation in Ukraine. At present the student body of Kyiv University numbers about 20,000 students at 14 faculties and in 6 Institutes. This number includes 2000 students at the Institute of International Relations which is attached to Kyiv University as a faculty.

From the University website:

The newly acquired independence of Ukraine and changing situation in it have put forward new requirements to Kyiv University which is contributing to the all-Ukrainian effort to create a radically new political, social and economic system of the country. Kyiv University is obliged to improve its system of training specialists since its graduates are to work in various segments of the political, social and economic system of the independent Ukraine. Kyiv University graduates are expected to be highly qualified, patriotic and aware of the tasks and challenges facing the new Ukraine; they must be open to the national ideals, and feel responsible for what they are required to do; they are expected to be able to demonstrate a creative approach in solving the pressing problems of today and tomorrow, and to think in terms of long-term and wide-ranging reforms. In other words, we are striving to achieve a truly universal character in the training of our specialists. We believe this can be achieved through engaging the most talented minds into the University’s educational system; we should involve the most talented scholars and scientists in the academic process at the same time providing them with adequate means by which to sustain their selfless efforts and endeavour; we must do our best to protect them from unnecessary and at times incompetent control on the part of certain government bodies. To do this successfully, Kyiv University has to acquire the status of an independent educational establishment. We are going to do our best to achieve this goal.
Professor Kelley was invited to teach a 4-day legal writing in English course in the law faculty at the University. In addition, he will be giving four presentations to the faculty and students: Water Quality Issues and the Clean Water Act in the United States; Water Quantity Concerns; The Doha Round of the WTO; and The Rule of Law.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

U.S. News Ranks University of Arkansas School of Law in Top Tier

U.S. News and World Report’s 2010 edition of America’s Best Graduate Schools ranked the University of Arkansas School of Law in the top tier of U.S. law schools. The School of Law tied for 94th place among all public and private law schools.

“We are thrilled to be included among the top tier of law schools,” said Cynthia Nance, dean of the School of Law. “This ranking is a testament to the outstanding work being done by our faculty and students and the remarkable achievements of our alumni. The School of Law has enjoyed a historic year, from the dedication of our building expansion with Associate Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to the recent visit of President George H.W. Bush. It’s heartening to know that colleagues nationwide are taking note of our great strides.”

The building expansion completed during the past year added approximately 64,000 square feet of classroom, library, office, lounge, and other space to create a quadrangle that encloses a beautiful courtyard. The new space provides for a professional learning environment incorporating state-of-the-art technology.

“I am very pleased that the School of Law is being recognized, rightfully, as one of the best in the nation,” said Chancellor G. David Gearhart. “As an alumnus of the law school, I am doubly pleased. The law school’s success reflects positively on the entire University of Arkansas, and I thank Dean Nance, the faculty, staff, students and alumni for their good work.”

Comment from the LL.M. Program - U.S. News does not rank LL.M. Programs, but we remain very proud of our status as the only LL.M. Program in Agricultural Law - I guess that makes us number 1!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Podcast - What is Ag Law?

I just realized that the American Association of Law Schools Agricultural Law section presentation is available on podcast. I had the opportunity to speak about our definition of agricultural law and what we do in the LL.M. Program. If you are interested - please listen!

Friday, April 10, 2009

LL.M. Alumnus Doug O'Brien Appointed to USDA Position

We are very proud to report that today, USDA Secretary Vilsack announced the appointment of LL.M. alumnus Doug O'Brien as Chief of Staff to Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan.

In the press release, Secretary Vilsack stated
We are very fortunate to have Doug O'Brien join USDA. He has dedicated a distinguished career to agricultural issues. The department-and the people we serve-will benefit from his breadth of experience. Beyond his knowledge of current challenges to agriculture, Doug's administrative background will serve USDA well as we work to achieve the President's goals for food, agriculture and rural America.
The USDA announcement described the duties of the Office of Deputy Secretary as follows –
The Office of the Deputy Secretary oversees the USDA budget, which is $120 billion for fiscal year 2009. The Office manages the day-to-day operations of a department with vast responsibilities that include domestic farm programs, agricultural trade, nutrition assistance, food safety, agricultural marketing, conservation programs, energy, rural development, science and research, and National Forest lands.
Doug received his LL.M. in Agricultural Law with us in 1998 and has maintained a close connection with the University of Arkansas School of Law since that time. He served as senior staff attorney in a joint appointment with the Drake Agricultural Law Center and our National Agricultural Law Center and later served as co-director of the National Ag Law Center. Doug has taught both the Federal Farm Programs and the Regulation of Livestock Sales courses in the LL.M. Program.

Doug has a distinguished career in agricultural law in addition to his work in Arkansas. He most recently served as Assistant Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, where he helped run day-to-day operations. His responsibilities included development of the department's biofuels, bioproducts and renewable energy efforts. Prior to that time, he served as senior advisor to Governor Chet Culver of Iowa on renewable energy issues.

During the 2002 Farm Bill deliberations, Doug served as counsel for the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, with work focusing on livestock marketing, concentration, agricultural credit, and cooperatives.

From 1998-2000, Doug was a legal specialist on livestock marketing issues, working for GIPSA. He has also served as associate counsel with the Organization for Competitive Markets; and he clerked with Justice Jerry Larson of the Iowa Supreme Court.

Doug was raised on a diversified family farm in Iowa. He holds a bachelor's degree from Loras College, in Dubuque, Iowa, a law degree from the University of Iowa and an LL.M. degree in agricultural law from the University of Arkansas School of Law.

Congratulations, Doug - we know you will do a great job!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Town Hall Meeting with T. Boone Pickens

Students participating in the Rural Land, Rural Livelihoods course have been asked to attend the “town hall” meeting on Monday, April 6 with T. Boone Pickens on the national energy crisis and energy independence. Denise Bode, president of the American Wind Energy Association and a partner in Pickens’ energy campaign, will be in attendance. The meeting will be in the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Enterprise Development Auditorium of the University of Arkansas, from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m. Monday, April 6.

Class will begin with a discussion of the town meeting. A rebroadcast of the event will also be available on the Web at:

No login required.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Rural Lands, Rural Livelihoods Course including Wind Energy

Next week, we will be offering a new class in the LL.M. Program - Rural Lands, Rural Livelihoods. This class will present some of the newest issues on the horizon in agricultural law, and we are very pleased to add it to our LL.M. curriculum.

Professor Neil Hamilton, a well recognized leader in the study of agricultural law and its part in our food system and a regular visiting professor in the LL.M. Program, will be teaching the course. Professor Hamilton is the Dwight D. Opperman Chair of Law at the Drake University School of Law in Des Moines, Iowa and also serves as the Director of the Drake Agricultural Law Center.

Professor Hamilton is one of only a very few law professors nationwide that have developed a wind energy law school course, and we are delighted to have him offer an overview of this emerging topic as part of the new course.

After the discussion of wind energy, the course will focus on other important aspects of rural development. Given Professor Hamilton's close connection with USDA Secretary Vilsack, we anticipate that a discussion of the new administration and its agricultural, food law, and rural development initiatives will be woven into the course discussion. Professor Hamilton co-taught a similar class with then Governor Vilsack at Drake Law School last summer.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Applications for LL.M Program - Fall 2009

Agricultural law is at the heart of the current debate about food, food safety, and sustainability.

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. With courses in food law, environmental law, and all other aspects of agricultural law, we take pride in offering a curriculum that covers the full spectrum of law and policy. We study the law from the perspective of the farmer, the consumer, and whoever may be involved in between.

We have already admitted a number of candidates for Fall 2009. We still have places available and will be able to offer merit-based graduate assistantships to a limited number of those admitted. These assistantships provide a tuition waiver plus a small stipend.

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 and food law communities.

Interested students are encouraged to apply to the Program as soon as possible. Visit our website for more information and to obtain an application form. You are welcome to send me an e-mail at with questions. And, you can call the LL.M. Program Office at 479-575-3706 (although Spring Break is March 16 - 20).

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Professor Kelley and Dean Nance in Ukraine

Dean Cynthia Nance, our Dean at the University of Arkansas School of Law and LL.M. and J.D. Professor, Professor Christopher Kelley just returned from a trip to Kyiv and Kharkiv, Ukraine. The trip's highlights included invitations for cooperation with a number of universities, including from the two leading law schools in Ukraine: the Kharkiv National Law Academy named after Yaroslav the Wise and the Law Department at the National Taras Shevchenko University of Kyiv. These opportunities come in addition to the cooperation agreement that we already have with Kharkiv National University of Internal Affairs.

Not only is the number of relationships between the School of Law and Ukrainian universities unprecedented, the opportunity to work with the two leading law schools is truly extraordinary.

Two students at Shevchenko talked with Profesor Kelley about applying for the LL.M. Program, and Professor Kelley was invited back to lecture on agricultural law in the United States. As Ukraine is "the bread basket of the world," agricultural law and food law are particularly important.

Dean Nance and Professor Kelley also met with Shelly Wieck, Director of the ABA Rule of Law International (ROLI) office in Ukraine. ABA ROLI has a grant from USAID to develop strategies for reforming legal education in Ukraine. Ms. Wieck would like our assistance on aspects of this effort, including developing legal clinics and classroom methodologies for teaching critical thinking.

During Spring break, Professor Kelley will return to Kyiv and Kharkiv with Frank Falkner of the Rose Law Firm and Chesley Whiteside, a J.D. student at the School of Law. Several Shevchenko law students are making arrangements to gather students to meet with them, as they are interested in visiting with Chesley and Frank about legal education in the U.S. from the students' perspective and law practice from the perspective of a practicing attorney.

And, throughout this semester, we will continue our series of live digital video conferences with professors and students from Ukraine and other countries.

Dean Nance and Professor Kelley deserve great credit for advancing the School of Law's international presence during a tightly scheduled, fully packed week in Kyiv and Kharkiv.

Professor Kelley notes that he is "hopeful that soon we will be able to develop ways in which our students and our graduates will join us in expanding our international activities."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

New Agricultural Sustainability Course

We are delighted to offer a new course, Agricultural Sustainability this semester as part of our curriculum of specialized agricultural law courses for our LL.M. candidates. And, we are particularly delighted to have our alumnus, Adjunct Professor Alison Peck teaching the course.

Professor Peck has been a practitioner and scholar of international law and sustainability for more than ten years. Her research and writing in the LL.M. Program involved the area of international agricultural sustainability, and she has recently published two articles in this area.
Alison Peck, The new Imperialism: Toward an Advocacy Strategy for GMO Accountability, 21 Geo. Int'l Envtl. L. Rev. 37 (2008);

Alison Peck, Standing for Protection of Collective Rights in the European Communities, 32 Geo. Wash. J. Int'l L. & Econ. 367 (2000).
Before coming to Arkansas, Professor Peck practiced international arbitration with the law firm of Boies, Schiller & Flexner in Washington, D.C., trying cases before various international arbitration bodies. She served as Notes Editor for the Yale Law Review and received her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1995. Following law school, helped found the Global Constitutionalism Project at Yale, working with supreme court justices around the world to assemble a global exchange of judicial decision-making on global problems. She served as a law clerk for Judge Jon O. Newman of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for Judge G. Federico Mancini on the Court of Justice for the European Communities.

Professor Peck taught International Environmental Law at the University of Arkansas during the Fall 2008 term, receiving rave reviews from her students. We are delighted to have Professor Peck teaching our Sustainable Agriculture class for the first time this coming semester. Here is her description of the course:
“Sustainability” has been called a “contestable concept” – no reasonable person is really against it, in principle, but what does it mean as a law and policy priority? What policies does sustainability compete with, or appear to? What decisional frameworks do legal advocates and policymakers rely on to analyze and resolve such conflicts? The goal of this seminar is to begin developing such a framework, and use it to evaluate the effects of existing laws on sustainability in agriculture. To do this, we will attempt to identify the goals of sustainable agriculture and consider competing policy interests (actual or apparent). With this understanding, we will consider how existing laws and policies (both directly and incidentally regulating agriculture) affect the sustainability of agricultural development.

The texts for this course will include readings from law, policy, science, economics, and the humanities, as well as educational materials produced by and for farmers seeking to farm more sustainably. The course aims to bring together a variety of perspectives to better understand how particular farming practices may affect the environment for future generations, and how the law does, can and should shape decisions about how to farm (and which agricultural products to consume). The student’s “final exam” will be to submit additional materials relating to the chosen topic, which the student believes would add greater depth or important new perspectives to the course, and to write a brief paper explaining how this research enhanced the student’s thinking on or understanding of the issues raised in the course.
Next fall, Professor Peck will be embarking on a new challenge. She recently accepted a tenure track teaching position at the University of West Virginia School of Law. We wish her the best in her new position and hope to continue working with her.