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.

Congratulations, Judge Henry

In a first for the LL.M. Program, we are pleased to congratulate LL.M. candidate, Courtney Henry for her formal investiture onto the Arkansas Court of Appeals. The ceremony was held in Little Rock on Wednesday, January 7, 2009. Courtney will continue her work on her LL.M. degree on a part time basis.

We are all confident that she is going to be a tremendous Judge and a great asset to the Arkansas judiciary.

Congratulations, Courtney!

How OZ Really Works: How Federal Money Rules Drive Federal Policy

Our appreciation is extended to David Grahn, Associate General Counsel for Rural Dev't at USDA who taught a wonderful LL.M. class in federal policy last week. The LL.M. candidates are still raving about how much practical information they learned about the federal budgetary process and its impact on policy. David delivered a fast paced and real world explanation of how things work inside the Beltway, how budgetary rules often drive policy decisions, and how policymakers need to understand the process in order to advance their causes. It was a fascinating week, and we are grateful for David's willingness to come to Arkansas to deliver this important information.Add Image
Christopher and I had the special treat of hosting David in our mountain home, and we are sure that he felt about as far away from Washington, D.C. as he could get as we navigated the rugged roads to get here and back every day. David not only tolerated but charmed our extensive collection of dogs and cats, and I think they are still wondering why that nice man left. He is pictured here relaxing with our Golden Retriever, Hunter.

Thanks, David!

What is Agricultural Law?

I recently had the opportunity to deliver a presentation on the topic, What is Agricultural Law. The forum was the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) in San Diego. The AALS Agricultural Law Section session hosted the session, and our chair, Professor Anthony Schutz identified two related goals: (1) To consider the pedagogical and scholarly value of agricultural law, and (2) To identify what belongs in the canon of agricultural law. His guidance to session panelists was as follows: "given the various changes that the agricultural sector has undergone over the last twenty-five years, it is time to reconsider the roots of the subject matter to which our section is devoted." My co-panelists were Professor Drew Kershen and Dean Jim Chen. Pictured here are Jim and me preparing to deliver our remarks. Dean Nance attended and took this photo for us, almost immediately uploading it to her Facebook page. Having a Dean with such an active Facebook page is really something to keep up with! But, that is another story . . .

The panel discussion was very interesting, and both preparing for and participating in the session helped me to organize my thoughts on what we do -

I just posted my written remarks from the panel on my SSRN site. These remarks will be published next month in the American Agricultural Law Association's newsletter, The Agricultural Law Update. The article discusses agricultural law in the context of the contemporary law school curriculum, but it also explains our focus in the LL.M. Program.

Please feel free to contact me with any comments or questions.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

LL.M. Program Offers New Course in Federal Policy & Budget

This coming week we will be hosting David Grahn, the Associate General Counsel for Rural Development at the USDA in Washington, D.C. David will be teaching a new course in federal policy called, Agricultural Policy and the Budget Rules. This new course will explore the impact of the Office of Management and Budget and the cost scoring system on policy making, discussing impacts for the future. Included in this discussion, of course, will be issues related to the stimulus package and its impact on policy making. After covering the substantive law, David will talk with our students about strategies for getting jobs in D.C. In addition to the LL.M. candidates, we will have several alumni returning for the course.

David is a special friend of the Program, and he will be teaching this course on his own time - and not in his official capacity at the USDA. He brings a wealth of policy experience and inside-Washington expertise to the task.

David's bio is listed below:
David P. Grahn is the Associate General Counsel for Rural Development at the United States Department of Agriculture. Mr. Grahn is responsible for the legal advice provided by the Office of the General Counsel to the Rural Housing Service, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, Rural Utilities Service, the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation/Risk Management Agency, and the Farm Loan Programs of the Farm Service Agency. From 1996 through 2002, Mr. Grahn was the Assistant General Counsel for Legislation responsible for the drafting and reviewing of legislation and the reviewing of Congressional testimony that affected agencies of the Department of Agriculture. Mr. Grahn was detailed to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, and Nutrition during Congress' consideration of the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996. From 1992 through 1995, Mr. Grahn served as a Confidential Assistant to the Administrator of the Farm Service Agency. Mr. Grahn is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School and Carleton College.

Friday, January 2, 2009

LL.M. Candidate Sworn in as Court of Appeals Judge

Our very own Courtney Henry, J.D., University of Arkansas School of Law, LL.M. Candidate, Graduate Program in Agricultural Law was just sworn in as a Judge on the Arkansas Court of Appeals.

In addition to Courtney's excellent legal training and experience, she has the wisdom and heart gained from being "mom." She is pictured here before Judge William Storey, with Emma Kate (age 8), Lily (age 6), and Harrison (age 3) as she is sworn in. Lily is apparently good to go with the oath as well. Courtney begins her term this month and will continue her LL.M. Studies on a part time basis.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Greetings to all the friends and alumni of the Graduate Program in Agricultural Law -
and a very Happy New Year to all!

Here are just a few of the things coming up on our list for 2009 -
  • On January 9, I will present at the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) annual meeting in San Diego on the topic: What is Agricultural Law? I will discuss ways in which agricultural law as a discipline is much broader than most people realize as well as the new interest in the study of food law as a component of our studies.
  • During the week of January 12, David Grahn, the Associate General Counsel for Rural Development at the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. will be joining us to teach a new condensed course course in federal policy called, How Oz Really Works: How Federal Money Rules Drive Federal Policy and Determine Who Makes the Decisions. David is a wonderful teacher and one of the most knowledgeable agricultural lawyers in D.C. Several of our alumni will be back attend this new course. It promises to be a fascinating week.
  • I will be teaching a number of 1-2 credit specialty classes Spring semester: Selected Issues in Food Law, Agricultural Bankruptcy, Agricultural Perspectives, and Agricultural Labor Law. Professor Kelley will be teaching our 3 credit Agriculture and the Environment class plus a new course that he is developing on the Rule of Law.
  • We are pleased to add two new adjunct professors to our ranks: Alison Peck will be teaching a new course, Sustainable Agriculture, and Mark Henry will teach Agricultural Biotechnology. Both professors are alumni of our program with wonderful credentials already posted on our website.
  • The week of April 6, Neil Hamilton will teach a new course for us this spring: Rural Lands, Rural Livelihoods, a wonderful course that highlights many of the new rural development issues including wind energy.
  • The School of Law is supporting the formation of a faculty committee this spring to help us explore the use of distance technology to improve and expand the reach of the LL.M. Program.
More news as it happens - but you can already see that 2009 promises to be a great year for us. All of us here in Arkansas wish you the very best.