Sunday, October 31, 2010

Alumni in the News: Janie Hipp

Janie Hipp was recently featured for her work leading the Office of Tribal Relations at the USDA in the article, A Face for the USDA in Indian Country by Brenda Austin, Indian Country Today, October 24, 2010.

In the article, Janie talks about the work that the USDA is doing, working with other offices throughout the federal government "to coordinate services and offer a more effective tribal consultation process. Re-drafting consultation practices and policies and offering training and support to senior managers in the 17 agencies of the USDA is helping to streamline information sharing and target which programs within the USDA might best meet a tribe’s need."
“We are working hard to make tribal governments more familiar with the full array of programs offered by the USDA’s 17 agencies,” Hipp said. “For example, Rural Development has an unbelievable amount of programs tribal governments should, and I hope, will access more in the coming years. In the area of housing there are probably 40 different funding lines for rural housing alone. While HUD is terribly important for Indian country, a lot of times USDA’s programs might not be thought of first, or are overlooked.”
We are proud of the work Janie is doing and appreciate the support she has shown to the LL.M. Program.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monitor in Pigford Litigation Addresses LL.M. Class

Randi Roth, Court-appointed Monitor in the landmark race discrimination case against the United States Department of Agriculture, Pigford v. Glickman, addressed the LL.M. class in our Food, Farming, & Sustainability course.

In the Pigford case, a class of approximately 22,000 African-American farmers sued the USDA, alleging race discrimination in the administration of federal agricultural credit programs. The settlement provided for individual consideration of each of the discrimination claims of the 22,000+ class members, and at this time over $1 billion has been paid out on behalf of those class members who have prevailed. As Monitor, Randi works as an agent and officer of the court, issuing decisions regarding appeals of claim determinations, helping the class members and the government solve problems regarding implementation of the settlement, overseeing the operations of a toll-free phone line for information about the settlement, and reporting to the court about the good faith implementation of the settlement. Randi is now overseeing the final stages of the settlement. Information about all aspects of the monitor's role and the history of the case can be found on the monitor's website.

Randi spoke to the class in an hour long live video conference. The LL.M. candidates gained a deeper understanding of the Pigford case and the complex role of the monitor in the implementation of the settlement. Appreciation is extended to Randi for an excellent presentation.

Randi now serves as Executive Director Otto Bremer Foundation in St. Paul, Minnesota. She received her B.A. from Yale University and her J.D. from Northwestern University. She began work as a legal aid attorney on Chicago’s south side at the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago and left to join the newly formed Farmers Legal Action Group, Inc. (FLAG) where she served as a staff attorney. She served as FLAG’s executive director from 1993 to 2003.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Additional Highlights from DC Trip

Other news from the trip to Washington D.C. taken by LL.M. candidates Lauren Medoff, Claire Mitchell, and Allison Waldrip.

On Wednesday night, Claire had dinner at the St. Regis Hotel with Michelle Greenhalgh and Helena Bottemiller, contributing authors for Food Safety News; and Suzanne Schreck, Food Safety News Web Producer and contributing author. This was the first chance for Claire to meet her colleagues at Food Safety News in person. She was delighted that Bill Marler, of Marler Clark joined the group, and she was able to thank him in person for the Marler Clark Graduate Assistantship award. Others in attendance at this high-powered dinner included Colin Caywood, an associate with the Marler Clark firm, and Eddie Kohan, creator of the Obama Foodorama blog.

On Thursday Lauren, Claire, and Allison visited the USDA where they met with LL.M. alumna Janie Simms-Hipp for almost an hour. Janie serves as Senior Advisor for Tribal Affairs to USDA Secretary Vilsack and also directs the USDA Office of Tribal Relations. Doug O'Brien, another alum and another of Secretary Vilsack's Senior Advisors stopped by to say hello and welcome them to the USDA. Another of our distinguished alumni, Brett Offutt was also able to join the group. Brett serves as Director of the Policy and Litigation Division of the Packers and Stockyards Program. Lauren returned to USDA on Friday to meet with another GIPSA alum, Cara McCarthy. Cara serves as a Legal Specialist with USDA GIPSA.

Thanks to all that made this trip so rewarding.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

LL.M. Candidates at the National Food Policy Conference

Earlier this fall, three of our current LL.M. candidates, Lauren Medoff, Claire Mitchell, and Allison Waldrip went to Washington, D.C. to attend the 33rd Annual National Food Policy Conference sponsored jointly by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Consumer Federation of America. The theme was “Improving Child Nutrition: New Challenges and Opportunities.” Lauren, Claire, and Allison reported that they thoroughly enjoyed the excellent conference and the opportunity to meet so many food policy leaders.

Samuel D. Kass, Senior Policy Advisor, Healthy Food Initiatives and Assistant White House Chef at The White House delivered the morning keynote address.

Joe W. Thompson, Arkansas Surgeon General and Director of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity was the luncheon keynote speaker. It was wonderful to have Arkansas so well represented.

Pictured above, from left to right are Allison, Claire, Samuel Kass, General Joe Thompson, and Lauren.

The candidates also enjoyed meeting the Honorable Representative Marcia Fudge, a Congresswoman recognized for her awareness of the childhood obesity problem. Pictured below are Claire, Allison, Representative Fudge, and Lauren.

Other highlights of the conference included the first public address by newly confirmed USDA FSIS Under Secretary for Food Safety, Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. Dr. Hagen outlined the USDA's vision on modernizing the Department's food safety efforts on behalf of consumers. Among the issues addressed were the pathogens not currently addressed by our testing and regulation, problems with traceback of foodborne illness, inconsistent enforcement of animal welfare standards, and efforts to move from a reactive system of food safety to a pro-active preventative system.

Dr. Hagen was introduced by renowned food safety advocate and Arkansas native, Carol Tucker Foreman,and the LL.M. candidates were delighted to have the opportunity to meet her.

The USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, Janey Thornton, also addressed the conference and spoke about her role in overseeing the 15 federal nutrition programs administered by the USDA.

Special thanks goes out to Christopher Waldrop, Director, Food Policy Institute, Consumer Federation of America for his work in organizing the conference and his help in getting our LL.M. candidates to the conference.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Report from the AALA Conference

I just got home from the annual Agricultural Law Association (AALA) Conference, held this year in Omaha, Nebraska. It was a great conference, and I wanted to post about the event for those of you who could not attend. We had wonderful representation for the LL.M. Program, with current candidates and alumni all participating in impressive numbers.

I am very pleased to report that I received this year's AALA Distinguished Service award. The distinguished service award is given to a member of the AALA that demonstrates “sustained excellence” in contributing to the development of agricultural law, the professional development of agricultural law practitioners, a “better understanding of the law by rural citizens;” and “other noteworthy service reflecting the commonly understood ideals and purposes of the AALA.” It was such a honor - I was very touched by the award.

This year the AALA Board created a new award for Excellence in Agricultural Law. This award is given to recognize AALA members for outstanding contributions to the legal profession and the agricultural community. LL.M. alumnus and Director of the National Center for Agricultural Law, Harrison Pittman was the award winner in the academic category. Harrison was recognized for his work with the National Center and the collaborations he has fostered between the National Center and the AALA, including the Agricultural and Food Law blog and the Agricultural Law listserv. Congratulations, Harrison.

LL.M. Alumna, Anne (Beth) Crocker, counsel for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture was elected to the AALA Board of Directors for a three year term beginning this fall. Alumnus Allen Olson, a practicing attorney from Albany Georgia and Visiting Professor for the LL.M. Program was elected to the AALA Board last year, so now serves in the second year of his three year term. It is wonderful to have such excellent representation on the board.

LL.M. alumni who presented at the conference included:

Terry Centner, Professor, University of Georgia

  • CAFO Issues in the Courts and the EPA

Anne (Beth Crocker), counsel for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture

  • Food Safety: State Initiatives in South Carolina

Anne Hazlett, Minority Counsel, U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee,

  • Farm Bill of the Future: Issues and Consensus Building

Martha Noble, Senior Policy Associate, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

  • Food Safety Legislation: Small Farms and Direct Marketing Issues
  • Agriculture and Forestry in Land Use Regulation

Jeffrey Peterson, shareholder, Gray, Plant, Mooty, PA St. Cloud, MN

  • Agricultural Bankruptcy Update

Ross Pifer, Director, The Agricultural Law Resource & Reference Center, Penn State Dickinson School of Law

  • The Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Rush
Harrison Pittman, Director of the National Center for Agricultural Law

  • Natural Gas, Wind & Solar Energy
  • Farm Bill of the Future

Michael T. Roberts, Special Counsel, Roll, International; Director, Center for Integrity in the Food Industry

  • Issues in Corporate Food Safety; Corporate Sustainability

Susan Schneider, Professor and Director, LL.M. in Agricultural & Food Law

  • New Developments in Food Law
  • Food Safety: New Concerns & Increased Regulation
  • Crop Insurance Issues

Jennifer Williams Zwaggerman, Associate, Faegre & Benson, Visiting Scholar, Drake University School of Law

  • Food Safety: Egg Contamination and a New Regulatory Framework

Visiting Professor Neil Hamilton, Professor, Drake University School of Law and Director, Drake Agricultural Law Center, presented the Annual Update on Issues of Food, Energy, and New Farmers and moderated the panel on Sustainability, Organic Production and Energy.

Visiting Professor David Grahn, USDA Office of General Counsel, spoke on Crop Insurance Issues, presenting an overview of the complex federal crop insurance program and highlighting new issues.

Sixteen of this year’s class of LL.M. candidates were in attendance as were many alumni including:

Joel Cape, Frilot LLC, New Orleans, Louisiana

Elizabeth (Springstein) Rumley, National Center for Agricultural Law

Rusty Rumley, National Center for Agricultural Law

Craig Raysor, USDA, GIPSA, Denver, Colorado

Cara McCarthy, USDA, GIPSA, Washington, D.C.

Harrison Pittman, National Center for Agricultural Law

Beth Crocker, South Carolina Dept of Agriculture

Brett Offutt, USDA GIPSA, Washington, D.C.

Kurt Olson, Miller Law Firm, Decorah, Iowa

Michael Roberts, Roll, International, Los Angeles, California

Jeff Feirick, Clemons Family Corporation, Hatfield, Pennsylvania

Anne Hazlett, Senate Ag Committee, Washington, D.C.

Jeff Peterson, Gray, Plant, Mooty, PA, St. Cloud, Minnesota

Martha Noble, National Sustainable Agricultural Coalition, Washington, D.C.

Terry Centner, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia

Teena Gunter, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Michael Knipe, USDA Office of General Counsel

Jennifer Zwaggerman, Faegre & Benson

Ross Pifer, Penn State Dickinson School of Law, State College, Pennsylvania

It was wonderful to see friends, colleagues, meet new students, and catch up with our alumni. My only regret was not having more time to catch up with some of our alumni. With record attendance at the conference and over 50 students in attendance, quite of few of whom wanted to talk to us about the LL.M. Program, it was a very busy time! If I missed anyone in my list - please let me know so I can update and correct! And, if anyone took pictures at the conference, please send them in for posting. Robert Achenbach sent me the award picture. That's me with Jesse Richardson, practicing attorney and Associate Professor, Virginia Tech, chair of the AALA Awards Committee and newly elected AALA Board member.

Next year's conference will be October 22-23 in Austin, Texas. I hope to see you all there!