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.

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