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!

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