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!

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