Saturday, January 24, 2009

African Agricultural Law Initiative

Professor Fred Boadu from Texas A&M visited the School of Law to talk with us about his proposal to introduce an agricultural law curriculum into law school and agricultural economics programs in countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. He met with Professors Christopher Kelley, Uche Ewelukwa, and me, and Professor Neil Hamilton from Drake University joined us by phone. Erimar von der Osten and Marne Coit from the National Center for Agricultural Law joined in much of our discussion.

In addition to meeting with us, Professor Boadu delivered a fascinating presentation to the LL.M. candidates, providing an overview of the situation in Sub-Saharan Africa and presenting a compelling case for the importance of a structure of agricultural laws to future development.

A framework of equitable agricultural laws is essential to assist in the production and marketing of agricultural commodities. Consider for example the laws that we have regarding land use and ownership, food safety laws and standards, commercial laws to support the availability of credit and the formation of businesses, environmental laws to regulate the improper or unsustainable use of resources, marketing laws and trade structures, and protective laws such as the Packers & Stockyards Act. This framework of laws supports and regulates our agricultural economy. Many developing countries lack this framework, giving farmers and rural residents have little means to improve their situation, even if agricultural productivity is improved.

Professor Boadu's visit allowed us the opportunity to explore these critical issues and to consider ways that we can work together to further his proposals.

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