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.

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