Friday, January 29, 2010

Rural Lands, Rural Livelihoods Class Feb. 6-8

Our good friend, Professor Neil Hamilton will be back in Fayetteville next week to teach his condensed course, Rural Lands, Rural Livelihoods.

Professor Hamilton is the Dwight D. Opperman Chair of Law at the Drake University School of Law in Des Moines, Iowa and also serves as the Director of the Drake Agricultural Law Center. He is a well recognized leader in the study of agricultural law and its part in our food system and is a regular visiting professor in the LL.M. Program.

Rural Lands, Rural Livelihoods will involve the study of a variety of rural economic development initiatives, including the legal issues surrounding the rapidly expanding wind energy industry.

Given Professor Hamilton's close connection with USDA Secretary Vilsack and Professor Hamilton's attendance at the recent climate change summit in Copenhagen, the course will involve a host of current issues.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Today in Agricultural Perspectives, we watched The People in Pictures, an Iowa Public Television pictorial essay of photos of Iowa farm families during the time period of the Great Depression and into the early postwar years. The photos were taken by Iowa photographer Pete Wettach who took nearly 50,000 photos of rural America. The documentary includes interviews with the people pictured in the photos, as they reminisce about their childhood days on their farms.

The photos and the stories always remind me of my farm in Minnesota and the stories my parents passed on.

The reading assignment for class was an excerpt from the book American Dreams, Rural Realities: Family Farms in Crisis, by Peggy Barlett.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Agricultural Bankruptcy Class

It is estimated that at any given time, about 25% of the farming community may be experiencing financial distress, often as a result of natural disasters or economic conditions beyond the farmer's control. And, as many farm families do not have access to affordable health care, farm accidents or health emergencies are a continual worry.

While risk management strategies can help, agricultural bankruptcy is an important legal tool that may be able to save a farm family from financial crisis. In the LL.M. Program each year, we offer a course in Agricultural Bankruptcy that covers both Chapter 12 reorganization and Chapter 7 liquidation. As farmers are often treated differently in bankruptcy, and as only family farmers and family fisherman are eligible for Chapter 12 relief, these important subjects are often omitted from law school classes.

In our Agricultural Bankruptcy class this week, we discussed the excellent materials published by the National Consumer Law Center. It is my privilege to contribute the chapter on farm bankruptcy to their Consumer Bankruptcy Law & Practice Guide.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dr. King and the Study of Agricultural Law

In recognition of this day in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I would like to make note of our efforts in the LL.M. Program in Agricultural & Food Law to recognize the role that race, diversity, gender, and ethnicity have played in the development of American agriculture. While we celebrate the success of American agriculture and its unparalleled productivity, we take time to recognize that like many aspects of society, American agriculture also includes a story of great injustice and discrimination.
As Dr. King noted, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.”
In Agricultural Perspectives, we begin our study with a look at slavery in America and just last week, we viewed excerpts from Africans in America, America’s Journey Through Slavery. This week, we will view another award-winning documentary, Oh Freedom After While, the difficult yet inspiring story of poor black and white sharecroppers coming together to try to improve their lives.

And, we will view the documentary, Homecoming, about African American farming today, considering the words of Dr. King,
“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.”
Last semester in Agricultural Finance & Credit, we studied past and present discrimination in agricultural lending, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and the ongoing struggles of African American farmers as evidenced in the Pigford litigation. Also addressed were the struggles of Native American farmers in the Keepseagle case, Hispanic farmers in the Garcia case; and women farmers in the Love case.

Again, we are mindful of Dr. King’s words,
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
As noted in a previous post, Professor Lisa Pruitt spoke to the Emerging Issues in Food Law class on the importance of rural women in providing food for their families worldwide and the impact of the CEDAW on the rights of women.

In Agricultural Labor Law, we address the law and policy of our use of migrant agricultural labor, and our study begins with the book With These Hands: The Hidden World of Migrant Farmworkers Today. Our class project will be to revise, edit, and post our course materials to encourage others to study this special area of employment law.

In recognizing both the diversity in agriculture and the injustice experienced by those with the least power, we can move forward to create a food system that reflects the goals espoused by Dr. King.
"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Spring 2010 Classes Begin

This week marks the beginning of Spring 2010 semester classes. Here are the descriptions of the courses we are offering this semester:

Government Regulation of Agriculture
This course analyzes federal domestic commodity programs, including payment eligibility and limitation rules; the USDA National Appeals Division (NAD) administrative appeals process; the judicial review of USDA NAD determinations; the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act; the USDA formal administrative adjudication process; federal marketing orders for milk, fruit, vegetables, specialty crops and nuts; and introduces the Federal Tort Claims Act and the Equal Access to Justice Act as applied to agricultural litigation. Incorporated in the course at various points will be basic principles of federal administrative law. This year, Agricultural Policy Making and the Impact of the Federal Budget and Crop Insurance/Disaster Assistance will be folded into this important look at federal agricultural policy.

Rural Lands - Rural Livelihoods
Rural development initiatives are distinct from the typical farm programs. This course considers innovative opportunites for farmers and other rural residents to explore innovative ways to stabilize and strengthen their rural communities. Included will be a study of some of the legal issues presented by wind farming.

Agricultural Bankruptcy
This course examines bankruptcy law as applied to agricultural operations, including Chapter 12 - Family Farmer Reorganization.

Agricultural Perspectives
Agriculture has a rich and varied history, and today’s issues are often best understood in the context of this history. This course examines a wide range of social and economic issues, considering their origin and how history is reflected in today’s policies. Topics considered include agrarianism, land tenancy issues, slavery, farm structure, early farm activism, the Dust Bowl, migrant farm labor, and issues involving the global food system.

Selected Issues in Food Law
This course explores current issues of food law selected by the students in the class, with a different topic presented each week. Legal and policy issues are presented and debated. Topics chosen in previous sessions have included the use of the term “grass fed” in meat labeling, hunger and the right to food as a human right, government efforts to address the obesity problem, the regulation of bottled water, and the use of the labeling term “natural.”

Agricultural Labor Law
This survey course examines the legal, social, and economic issues that arise from the extensive use of migrant labor in U.S. agricultural operations. This complex issue is analyzed from many perspectives. Discussion topics include agricultural exemptions from labor laws, the Migrant & Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, and agriculture’s reliance on undocumented alien workers.

Biotechnology & Agriculture
Developments in agricultural biotechnology offer exciting opportunities but also raise concerns. This course examines laws governing biotechnology as applied to agriculture, combined with a discussion of the farm policy impact and analysis of regulations controlling the use of biotechnology in agriculture and whether these regulations have kept up with scientific developments.

Advanced Agricultural Commercial Law
This new course will be a practical exploration of commercial and contract law issues and how they impact agri-business decision making. It will begin with an overview of UCC Article 2 issues including bailments, consignments and forward contracting. It will then turn to some of the special problems associated with livestock marketing contracts; grain marketing contracts; and production contracts. It will conclude with a discussion of some of the unique contractual issues that arise including wine grapes and a consideration of Renewable Energy Feedstock Contracts.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Professor Schneider at AALS Conference

Later this week, I will attend the American Association of Law School's Annual Meeting in New Orleans. In addition to attending the Agricultural Law section meeting, I will participate in an Open Source Forum on Food Law & Values. Check out the program posting on the Agricultural Law blog. My presentation will discuss the intersection of agricultural law and food law as well as the agricultural law policy implications of an increased focus on food systems.

Several "friends of the LL.M. Program" will also be involved. Visiting Professor Neil Hamilton will present the perspectives of the Obama/Vilsack administration. LL.M. Alumna, Marne Coit will speak on local food systems and sustainability. And, Dean Jim Chen will discuss regulation of genetically modified foods.

UA's Dr. Jon Johnson Named to List of Most Influential in Business Ethics

We are pleased to report that Dr. Jon Johnson was named to Ethisphere’s list of 2009’s 100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics. Dr. Johnson serves as Executive Director of the UA Applied Sustainability Center, as Co-Director of the Sustainability Consortium, and he is the Walton Professor of Sustainability at the UA Walton College of Business. Dr. Johnson's colleague as Co-Director of the Consortium, Dr. Jay Golden of Arizona State University was also named.

Dr. Johnson addressed the LL.M. class Fall Semester on Applied Sustainability Issues.

From Ethisphere:
The list represents those that had significant impact in the realm of business ethics over the course of the year.

These individuals represent eight distinct categories; Government and Regulatory; Business Leadership; Non-Government Organization (NGO); Design and Sustainability; Media and Whistleblowers; Thought Leadership; Corporate Culture; and Investment and Research.
Congratulations to Dr. Johnson for this prestigious recognition.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

South Carolina Local Foods Workshop - Jan. 29

This announcement came in from our alumna Beth Crocker who serves as Counsel for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture. Beth has been instrumental in South Carolina's impressive local foods campaign. That's Beth and one of her dogs, Jake pictured at left.

Sustainable South Carolina
Local Food Systems Workshop
January 29, 2010
8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Hilton Columbia Center
924 Senate Street
Columbia, South Carolina

Currently the demand for locally-produced foods in South Carolina is much greater than the supply, creating tremendous economic opportunities for local farms and markets and also consumers interested in a more healthy diet. This workshop will address local food policies in South Carolina from farm to fork, looking at all aspects of food policy in South Carolina including sustainable production, distribution and consumption trends and why a sustainable food system is advantageous to South Carolina. The goal of the workshop is to explore challenges and opportunities leading to the development of sustainable food systems for South Carolina, including key economic, environmental, food distribution and health aspects that are critical to sustainable, local food systems. The result of this workshop will be a set of written guiding principles for achieving a more sustainable, local food system in South Carolina.

The registration deadline is January 8, 2010. More information and registration details can be found on the South Carolina Department of Agriculture Food Policy Counsel website.