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.