Saturday, December 10, 2011

LL.M. Program Benefits from Law Professor/LL.M. Candidates

Both this academic year and last year in the LL.M. Program in Agricultural & Food Law, we have had the honor of hosting visiting scholars, law professors from other schools that attended the LL.M. Program as degree candidates.

Last year, Professor Tae Huan Keum came to study with us for his sabbatical from the Seoul National University in Korea. While in the Program, he researched and wrote an article on the regulation of U.S. beef and the risk of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE or "Made Cow" disease), a major issue in U.S. trade negotiations with South Korea. I  recently received an email from him that referenced his "wonderful experience in Fayetteville" where he was able to  "meet the issues of the American agriculture, smart students, enthusiastic professors, and the Razorback Football team. . . From the introduction to American agriculture to all the classes including Food, Farming, Sustainability, I was given new insights and was made to consider solutions to the problems of agriculture."

This year, we are proud to host Professor Martha Dragich, James S. Rollins Professor of Law at University of Missouri – Columbia School of Law.  Her interest in food law and our food system led her to study with us, and she has provided a significant contribution to our studies so far this year.  Her impressive publication record and her thoughtful approach to scholarship has led many of our young scholars to seek out her advice. And, the food she has prepared for the class has been amazing.  Indeed, we met the "Slow Food Challenge" at Martha's house this fall!  Martha is also a talented photographer, and she has allowed us to use her photos of produce at the Fayetteville Farmers Market on our brochures.

This year's class also includes Volha Samasuk, Senior Lecturer, Belarusian State University Law Department, Minsk, Belarus. Volha was interested in our program because of her work with international food safety and quality standards through the Belarus Food Safety Improvement Project of the International Finance Corporation in The World Bank Group.  She has also been a fantastic contributor -  sharing the world of Belaraus with us, and most recently, the secrets of Eastern European potato pancakes at the end of the semester party!

We are fortunate to have these professors with us. We hope that their example encourages others to take a year, or even just semester off to "return to school" and study with us.  We can all learn from each other!

Cross-posted with Agricultural Law Blog.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

UA School of Law Dean Leeds Appointed to Trust Commission

The Arkansas Newswire posted an exciting announcement today about our Dean, Stacy Leeds:   

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar named University of Arkansas School of Law Dean Stacy L. Leeds to a national commission that will undertake a forward-looking, comprehensive evaluation of the Interior Department’s trust management of nearly $4 billion in Native American trust funds. Leeds was one of five prominent American Indians named to the Secretarial Commission on Indian Trust Administration and Reform.

"This commission will play a key role in our ongoing efforts to empower Indian nations and strengthen nation-to-nation relationships," Salazar said in naming the appointees to the Secretarial Commission on Indian Trust Administration and Reform. “The five members each bring extensive experience and knowledge to the commission, and I look forward to their findings and recommendations for how we can fully meet our trust responsibilities to the First Americans.”

Leeds is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and the first American Indian woman to serve as dean of a law school. She has served as a judge for many tribes including the Cherokee Nation, where she was the only woman and youngest person to ever serve as a Supreme Court Justice. Before joining the University of Arkansas on July 1, she served as interim associate dean for academic affairs and as director of the Tribal Law and Government Center at the University of Kansas School of Law. Prior to joining Kansas, she was a professor and director of the Northern Plains Indian Law Center at the University of North Dakota School of Law.

The other members of the commission are:

  • Chair – Fawn R. Sharp is the current president of the Quinault Indian Nation, the current president of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, and a former administrative law judge for the state of Washington and governor of the Washington State Bar Association.
  • Peterson Zah, an established leader in Native American government and education circles, was the last chairman of the Navajo Tribal Council and the first elected president of the Navajo Nation.
  • Tex G. Hall, current chairman of Three Affiliated Tribes and past president of the National Congress of American Indians, is currently serving as chairman of the Inter Tribal Economic Alliance and is the chairman of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Association.
  • Bob Anderson, an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe (Bois Forte Band), has six years of experience working at the Department of the Interior from 1995-2001 as associate solicitor for Indian affairs and as counselor to the secretary of the Interior on Indian law and natural resource issues. He is currently a professor of law and director of the Native American Law Center at the University of Washington, and holds a long-term appointment as the Oneida Nation Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

The Interior Department selected the members after a public solicitation for nominations and, in consultation with trust beneficiaries, evaluated the candidates on the basis of their expertise and experience, including in government and trust, financial, asset and natural resource management. Members were selected in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act and they will serve without compensation.

Within 24 months, the commission is expected to complete a comprehensive evaluation of the Interior Department’s management and administration of the trust assets and offer recommendations of how to improve in the future.

Salazar’s announcement came in advance of the third White House Tribal Nations Conference on Friday, Dec. 2, at the Department of the Interior. The conference brought together leaders from the 565 federally recognized tribes to hear from President Obama and to build upon the administration’s commitment to strengthen the government-to-government relationship with tribal nations.

Salazar established the framework for the commission in a 2009 Secretarial Order, which addressed the department’s future responsibilities for trust management after the Cobell Settlement agreement set forth resolution of a class action lawsuit regarding the U.S. government's trust management and accounting of individual Native American trust accounts and resources. The Cobell Settlement will be effective when all appeals are resolved favorably.

Under federal law, the Department of Interior is responsible for managing 56 million surface acres and 57 million acres of subsurface mineral estates for 384,000 Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts and about 2,900 tribal accounts. Tribal trust assets include land, timber, grazing, oil, gas and mineral resources. More information can be found at the Department of Interior website.

On trust lands, the department manages about $3.9 billion in trust funds and more than 109,000 leases. For fiscal year 2011, funds from leases, use permits, land sales and income from financial assets, totaling about $400 million, were collected for about 384,000 open IIM accounts. About $609 million was collected in fiscal year 2011 for about 2,900 tribal accounts. There are currently 156,596 individual Indian land allotments and more than 4.7 million fractionated interests.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Jason Foscolo Profiled by Good Food Jobs

I am delighted to report that Jason Foscolo, one of our recent LL.M.s was just featured on the Gastrognomes Blog from Good Food Jobs.

Jason was in the LL.M. Program last year and since leaving Fayetteville has set up Jason Foscolo, LLC as a new food law practice focusing on the needs of the new agricultural and food businesses that make up our changing food system. Jason writes the Food Law Blog with many followers and tweets at @FoodLawAttorney, where he is self-described as: "Legal counsel for farmers and food entrepreneurs. Will work for food!"

Gastrognomes does a nice job describing the love of food that connected this well respected JAG attorney serving at the Pentagon to our LL.M. Program.  He's got a great story. And, Jason fit in a nice plug for our Program.

I had the extraordinary opportunity to pursue an advanced degree in Agriculture and Food Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law, the only program of its kind in the United States. The program gave me a comprehensive understanding of the network of special laws that regulate almost every transaction in our food system.

Thanks, Jason.

I have actually been meaning to blog about one aspect of Jason's work - his work with veteran farmers - for some time, and this new acclaim reminded me that it was past time to do so.

Last August, Jason announced his affiliation with the Farmer Veteran Coalition, an amazing non-profit organization based in California. The FVC provides agricultural training as well as financial assistance to returning veterans so that they may build viable careers on our nation’s farms. Their mission is as straightforward as it is powerful.  "The mission of the Farmer-Veteran Coalition is to mobilize veterans to feed America."  Their work and the help that they provide to vets returning from Iraq or Afghanistan was highlighted in the New York Times article Helping Soldiers Trade Their Swords for Plowshares.

Jason participated in the Coalition’s veteran-farmer training in Philadelphia and presented on small business law, food safety regulations and food-born illness liability, farm labor laws, and the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act. He described his experience as follows.

The vets I met with are still enormous assets for their country. They are creating jobs, strengthening rural communities, and growing great food. As they always have, they will succeed in this.

If you would like to donate or volunteer with the Farmer Veteran Coalition, click here for additional information.

We wish Jason great success with his practice.  He really does have a "good food job."

Saturday, November 19, 2011

David Lambert Visits Food, Farming, & Sustainability Class

We were privileged to have a special guest visit the LL.M. Program last week.  David Lambert was in Fayetteville as a guest of the Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences, and he offered to stop by the LL.M. Program to talk to our class.  He has been an enthusiastic supporter of our efforts to link food, agriculture, and the law in a way that is helpful to the problems of hunger, environmental problems, and sustainability.

David is recognized internationally as an expert in global food security and the fight against world hunger. A native of Arkansas, David is principal of Lambert Associates, a Washington, D.C., public affairs consulting firm providing strategic policy advice to United Nation’s agencies, land-grant universities and the U.S. private sector on issues related to global food security, child nutrition, food safety and agricultural biotechnology. He also served as Foreign Agricultural Service Counselor to the U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies during the Clinton Administration.

During his visit to our class, David asked critical questions regarding the problems of global hunger.  He presented the alarming statistics on the current condition of global food insecurity.
  • About one billion people are chronically hungry, with inadequate access to food and water
  • 25,000 die of hunger and related causes each day; about nine million each year
  • A child dies of hunger every five seconds
  • More than one billion people live on less than $1 a day
He discussed why we should care about global hunger, what the root causes are, and what policies are needed to address the problems.  And, he discussed the critical role that our LL.M. Program might play in developing the critical link between food, agriculture, and the rule of law.  Only with the appropriate legal infrastructure and equitable laws that are uniformly enforced can we achieve solutions to the problem of global hunger.

David is an outspoken leader on global hunger issues, and we were honored to have him with us.  His moving presentation, The Quest to End Hunger in Our Time: Can Political Will Catch Up with Our Core Values? is available on the Clinton School of Public Service website.  The Journal of Food Law & Policy was pleased to publish his remarks from that presentation.  They are available online courtesy of the Iowa State University Seed Science Center.

Bill Marler Teaches Food Safety Litigation Class

This past week, we were pleased to welcome our distinguished visiting professor, Bill Marler for the condensed course that he teaches on Food Safety Litigation. The first two hours of his class were conducted as a public forum, with good attendance from the law school, others from the University of Arkansas, and the wider community.

An accomplished attorney and national food safety expert, William (Bill) Marler is recognized as the most prominent foodborne illness lawyer in America and a major force in food policy. His firm, Marler Clark has represented thousands of individuals in claims against food companies whose products have caused serious illness or death, securing over $600,000,000 for victims of E. coli, Salmonella, and other foodborne illnesses.  He is the founder of the popular online newspaper, FoodSafetyNews, a blogger and tweeter with a large following, and a frequent commentator on food safety issues.  Marler Clark is a sponsor of our Graduate Assistantship program, with Allie Condra serving as the 2011-12 Marler Clark Graduate Assistant.

Bill Marler was a strong proponent of the Food Safety Modernization Act that was signed into law in January of 2011. This was the first major reform of the Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) food safety regime in seventy years. It shifts the FDA focus from reactive to preventative, expands FDA powers to inspect and recall, establishes risk-based priorities, and addresses major weaknesses in import safety assurances.  Bill advocated for the legislation, writing about the need for better consumer protection, testifying before Congress, and speaking to the media about the need for stronger food safety regulation.  His public forum topic was, How the Food Safety Modernization Act Came About:  Food Safety and Forces of Change.

As part of the condensed course, Bill brought popular author Jeff Benedict to Arkansas to talk to the class. Jeff is the author of the well received 2011 book, Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. Coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat.  This book chronicles the historic Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in 1993 and its impact on our food safety system.  As one review notes, the book provides a "jarringly candid narrative of the fast-moving disaster drawing on access to key documents and exclusive interviews with the real-life characters at the center of the drama - the families whose children were infected, the Jack in the Box executives forced to answer for the tragedy, the physicians and scientists who identified E. coli as the culprit, and the legal teams on both sides of the historic lawsuits that ensued."  Central to the story is the young lawyer, Bill Marler, who "staked his career on bringing the victims justice without compromise."

The LL.M. candidates truly enjoyed the class and the opportunity to get to know Bill and Jeff. They each did a great job in the classroom. Our appreciation is extended to them for providing such a fantastic experience to our class.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

FCA General Counsel Charlie Rawls Presents to Class

Our Food, Farming, & Sustainability class provides a survey of agricultural law, and one of the topics that we discuss is agricultural finance and credit.  Part of that unit includes a study of the Farm Credit System, the unique nationwide network of cooperative lending institutions and related organizations. Farm Credit System lenders provide more than $160 billion in loans, leases, and related services to the agricultural community.

In addition to our readings, we were delighted to have an opportunity to learn first hand from Charlie Rawls, the Farm Credit Administration's General Counsel.  The Farm Credit Administration is the independent federal agency that regulates the Farm Credit System. Having the opportunity to talk directly with FCA's general counsel was a tremendous opportunity for our LL.M. class.

Charlie Rawls has had an amazing career of leadership in agricultural law and policy. Before joining the FCA in March 2003, he was General Counsel and Vice-President for legal, tax, and accounting at the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. During the consideration of the 2002 farm bill, he served as the General Counsel of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. He served as General Counsel for the USDA from 1998 to 2001, and before that served as Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. He also served as Counsel to the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Forests, Family Farms, and Energy; Associate General Counsel of the House Committee on Agriculture; and, Legislative Director and Administrative Assistant to Congressman Martin Lancaster.

Charlie delivered an excellent presentation to the class via live video conference.  He provided information about the role that the FCA has in regulating the Farm Credit System and offered his perspectives on the remarkable success of the system.  He also discussed the challenges going forward, including issues regarding farm land values, changes to federal farm policy, and changes to U.S. agriculture.  He spoke specifically about the growing interest in local food systems and the increasing role that the Farm Credit System will likely play in financing the farmers involved.  The class asked many excellent questions, producing a lively dialogue.  Our appreciation is extended for this wonderful opportunity.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Professor Don Pedersen Returns to the LL.M. Classroom

Professor Don Pedersen addressed the LL.M. class last Wednesday, delivering a fascinating lecture on the history of agricultural law as a legal discipline in the United States and the history of the LL.M. Program.  Professor Pedersen served as the Director of the LL.M. Program in the early years and is credited with shaping the basic elements of the Program as it exists today.

We were pleased to also have another agricultural law leader in attendance -  Professor David A. Myers from Valparaiso University School of Law was visiting the LL.M. Program.  Professor Myers served as the Chair of the American Association of Law School's section on Agricultural Law and was one of the founders of the American Agricultural Law Association. He was delighted to reconnect with Don Pedersen and greatly enjoyed his lecture.

Prior to coming to the University of Arkansas, Don was already a recognized leader in agricultural law. He was a full professor at Capital University in Ohio and had been instrumental in the founding of the American Agricultural Law Association. When he was hired, he was already in the process of drafting an Agricultural Law casebook for West Publishing along with Law Professors Keith Meyer (University of Kansas), Norman Thorson (University of Nebraska), and John Davidson (University of South Dakota). That book was published in 1985 and was used extensively. Don subsequently published the West Nutshell on Agricultural Law with Keith Meyer of University of Kansas.

In 1987, Don and Dean Jake Looney worked with LL.M. alumnus Chuck Culver to obtain a grant to the law school for the creation of a National Agricultural Law Center. Don served as co-PI with Jake on this grant until his retirement in 1998.

Don received his B.A. from St. Olaf College in Minnesota and his J.D. from Northwestern University. He had practice experience in Minnesota and began his teaching career at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota.

During the years that he served as Director of the LL.M. Program, Don taught whatever courses were needed, and his expertise included Agricultural Finance & Credit, Forestry Law, Agricultural Labor Law, Agricultural History and Policy, and Agricultural International Transactions. His students knew him as a professor with very high expectations, an exceptionally strong work ethic, and a sense of professionalism that was the quintessential model for all.

Appreciation is extended to Don for all that he has done for agricultural law and for the LL.M. Program.  We look forward to his return to the School of Law this Spring when an all-LL.M. alumni reunion is planned.  More later on this exciting event!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

American Agricultural Law Association Symposium

We just got back from a wonderful trip to Austin, Texas for the annual educational symposium of the American Agricultural Law Association (AALA).

The LL.M. Program has always had a close relationship with the AALA, and our alumni and faculty continue to play an important role. Again this year, we were very well represented -  with a total conference attendance of over two hundred, twenty alumni from our LL.M. Program were registered and six were presenters.

 Two alumni from our first graduating class, Terry Centner (Professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Georgia) and Linda Grim McCormick (Senior Division Manager at Jewels by Park Lane and Editor of the Ag Law Update) were there, and we began plans for an alumni reunion this coming Spring.  Stay tuned!  We hope to schedule it when Neil Hamilton is with us teaching his Spring course.  Neil was recruited by then LL.M. Program Director Jake Looney as the first professor hired to teach in the new LL.M. Program.

We were pleased to see two of our alumni from the USDA -  Janie Simms Hipp and Brandon Willis.  Janie serves as Senior Advisor for Tribal Affairs to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and is also the Director of the new USDA Office of Tribal Relations within the Office of the Secretary.  Janie spoke on two program panels - one on Beginning Farmers and another on settlement of the longstanding USDA Discrimination cases.  Brandon is the Senior Advisor to Secretary Vilsack on farm programs, and he spoke on Beginning Farmer issues and USDA farm programs.

Nine of our LL.M. candidates attended the conference and displayed poster presentations on special topics of interest. They were involved in all the sessions, asking questions, meeting speakers and other attendees, and representing our program well.

Three of our Visiting Professors were in attendance. Neil Hamilton was there with a large group of his Drake students. He organized and moderated two sessions at the conference.  Phil Kunkel, Gray Plant Mooty, Minneapolis, MN received the association's highest honor, the Distinguished Service award, and David Grahn, Associate General Counsel, USDA received the Excellence in Agriculture Award.  All three of these impressive professors will be with us this Spring teaching condensed courses.

I am also pleased to report that I was awarded the association's 2011 Professional Scholarship Award for my article, A Reconsideration of Agricultural Law: A Call for the Law of Food, Farming, and Sustainability34 WM & MARY J. ENVTL L. & POL'Y REV. 935 (2010).

Saturday, October 8, 2011

LL.M. Trip to the National Food Policy Conference

For 34 years, the National Food Policy Conference has been a Washington institution and a unique collaboration between consumer advocates, the food industry and government. The conference, October 3 and 4 in Washington, D.C., is coordinated by the Consumer Federation of America. CFA’s Media Partner for the conference is The Food Institute Report. 

I attended this year's National Food Policy Conference with four of this year's LL.M. candidates, Professor Martha Dragich, Alli Condra, Gina Cucurullo, and Cathy Franck.  I speak for all of us in saying that this was a tremendous opportunity.

The conference explored an array of important food policy issues facing consumers and the food industry. Consumer food priorities and trends; government food programs; budget cutbacks, food safety concerns, and the federal farm programs were all topics of discussion.  Speakers included USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, Director of the CDC, Thomas Frieden, Former USDA Secretary Dan Glickman, Chef Jose Andres, and many others.  It was a particular delight to see fellow-Arkansan Carol Tucker Foreman Carol Tucker Foreman, a leading national voice on food policy and Distinguished Fellow at the Food Policy Institute of the Consumer Federation of America.

The LL.M. Program, in conjunction with the School of Law's Journal staff were pleased to extend an offer to the speakers to publish their conference remarks in the Journal of Food Law & Policy, and we look forward to working with these distinguished presenters on their articles.

Special thanks goes out to Chris Waldrop, the Director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America for organizing such a wonderful conference, facilitating our publication offer, and assisting us with student scholarships.  Thanks as well to our friend and distinguished UA alumnus, David Lambert.  David was wonderful in introducing us to speakers and colleagues and helping us to spread the word about the LL.M. Program and the Journal of Food Law & Policy.  It was truly a wonderful event.

Pictured above is our group at the conference, from left to right, Gina Cucurullo, Martha Dragich, Cathy Franck, Alli Condra, and me, Susan Schneider

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chris Saunders Awarded Henry Law Firm Assistantship

We are pleased to announce the 2011-12 public/private partnerships that connect the LL.M. Program with leaders in the food and agricultural law communities. This partnership allows us to offer three graduate assistantships, matching our candidates with law firms and agencies working on the cutting edge of our food system.

Three distinguished law firms, Bassett Law Firm LLP, the Marler Clark Law Firm, and the Henry Law FIrm are our partners in the program this year, and their participation is indeed an honor for us.  This post announces the Henry Law Firm Graduate Assistantship.

The Henry Law Firm in Fayetteville, Arkansas has a primary focus on intellectual property and agricultural law, offering extensive patent, trademark and copyright protection services.

The firm is led by Mark Murphey Henry, a Registered Patent Attorney.  Mark is an alumnus of the University of Arkansas School of Law, receiving his J.D., with honors and his LL.M. degree in Agricultural Law.   Mark is admitted to practice in six states - Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Kentucky, and Missouri and was recently featured in the SuperLawyers Mid-South edition.  He has been recognized for his leadership and innovation in intellectual property law and for his pro bono work as well.  He is a popular adjunct in the LL.M. program teaching Agricultural Biotechnology each Spring semester.  This is the first year that the Henry Law Firm has participated in our graduate assistantship program, and we are delighted to include them.

Chris Saunders is the recipient of the Henry Law Firm Graduate Assistantship.  Chris received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering and his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from North Carolina State University.  He received his J.D. degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 2011.  He co-authored a presentation at 2010 American Agricultural Law Association Symposium, Solar Energy: Is It Really A Bright Idea for Farmers? with Ray Starling, General Counsel, North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  His professional experience includes work with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.

Congratulations, Chris, and our appreciation to The Henry Law Firm!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Kristy Boehler Awarded Bassett Law Firm Graduate Assistantship

We are pleased to announce the 2011-12 public/private partnerships that connect the LL.M. Program with leaders in the food and agricultural law communities. This partnership allows us to offer three graduate assistantships, matching our candidates with law firms and agencies working on the cutting edge of our food system.

Three distinguished law firms, Bassett Law Firm LLP, the Marler Clark Law Firm, and the Henry Law FIrm are our partners in the program this year, and their participation is indeed an honor for us.  This post announces the Bassett Law Firm Graduate Assistantship.

Bassett Law Firm LLP, located in Fayetteville, serves clients in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. Since the firm’s founding in October 1981 by the late Bill Bassett and his two sons, Woody and Tod, Bassett Law Firm LLP has enjoyed many accomplishments and sustained growth. The foundation of the firm has been and remains its commitment to the service of its clients, the profession, and the community.

Included in a wide range of community service, Bassett Law Firm LLP has been a particular friend to the University of Arkansas School of Law. The firm annually sponsors the Trial Advocacy scholarship prize to a J.D. student selected by the law faculty. And, thanks to a generous $100,000 gift from the firm, the law school is proud to have its premier W.W. Bassett, Jr. Classroom.

Agricultural Law is a significant practice area for Bassett Law Firm LLP. Partner, Vince Chadick and firm attorney, K.C. Tucker are both graduates of the LL.M. Program in Agricultural Law. A number of LL.M. candidates have clerked at the firm. Vince Chadick is a popular adjunct professor in the LL.M. Program, teaching Regulation of Livestock Sales each fall.

Kristy Boehler is the recipient of the 2011-12 Bassett Law Firm Graduate Assistantship.  Kristy is an Arkansas native who received her B.A., cum laude,  from Drake University, with majors in Political Science and Law, as well as Politics and Society.  She returned to Arkansas to attend the University of Arkansas School of Law, and she received her J.D. degree last Spring, graduating summa cum laude and as the 3rd highest in her class.

In law school, Kristy was a member of the Arkansas Law Review, and she authored the article,  Poultry Growers in Arkansas: Agents or Independent Contractors? published at 63 Ark. L. Rev. 849 (2010).

Congratulations to Krisy, and our thanks to the Bassett Law Firm.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Alli Condra Awarded Marler Clark Graduate Assistantship

We are pleased to announce the 2011-12 public/private partnerships that connect the LL.M. Program with leaders in the food and agricultural law communities. This partnership allows us to offer graduate assistantships, matching our candidates with law firms and agencies working on the cutting edge of our food system.

Three distinguished law firms, the Marler Clark Law Firm, Bassett Law Firm LLP, and the Henry Law Firm are our partners in the program this year, and their participation is indeed an honor for us.  This post announces Alli Condra as the Marler Clark Graduate Assistantship recipient.

Marler Clark is recognized as the nation’s foremost law firm representing victims of foodborne illness. Since 1998, Marler Clark attorneys have been involved in almost all of the major food poisoning cases in the U.S., representing victims of Campylobacter, E. coli O157:H7, Hepatitis A, Listeria, Norovirus, Salmonella, and Shigella outbreaks across the country.

Bill Marler, one of the founders of Marler Clark is an internationally recognized leader in food safety. Bill has been a tireless supporter of the reform of our food safety laws, through frequent media interviews, the very popular Marler Blog, his active Twitter feed, @bmarler and his "Put a Trial Lawyer Out of Business" campaign. He was instrumental to the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act and for the USDA's recent declaration of additional E. coli pathogens as adulterants.  His start in food safety litigation is chronicled in the new book, Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E.Coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat.

Bill Marler and Marler Clark are the founders of the acclaimed online national daily newspaper, Food Safety News, that reports on food safety, food law, and related issues.   The Marler Clark Graduate Assistantship provides writing experience with Food Safety News.

Bill will be teaching Food Safety Litigation in the LL.M. Program this Fall. His generous contribution to the LL.M. Program also provides general support to our graduate assistantship program and to the LL.M. Program.

Alli Condra is the 2011-12 recipient of the Marler Clark Graduate Assistantship.  Alli is a native of California and received her B.A. degree from California Lutheran University,  majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Pre-Naturopathic Medicine. After graduating from CLU, Alli moved to Mexico City for a year to work with migrants and refugees at a non-profit, Sin Fronteras. While there, Alli studied food security among the migrants and refugees with the hopes of increasing funding for food from the United Nations High Commission on Refugees.  She attended Drake University Law School and obtained her J.D. degree last spring with High Honors. She was awarded a  Certificate in Food & Agricultural Law. Alli was the winner of 2011 Journal of Environmental Law & Litigation Writing Competition from the University of Oregon School of Law.  As part of her assistantship duties, Alli has already published two articles on Food Safety News, FDA Import Alerts: A Primer, and Harvard Steps Up to the Healthy Eating Plate.

Our congratulations to Alli, and our thanks to Bill Marler and to Marler Clark.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Video Conference with Senior USDA Official, Brandon Willis

This morning, our Food, Farming, & Sustainability class had the opportunity to hear from one of our alumni, Brandon Willis via digital video conference.  Since attending the LL.M. Program, Brandon has had a distinguished career in Washington, D.C.  He served as the Agriculture Legislative Assistant for U.S. Senator Max Baucus (2006-2009) and during that time drafted floor statements on agricultural issues and worked closely on legislation – including the 2008 Farm Bill, with a particular focus on the livestock disaster programs.  He also drafted legislation that supported the use of existing conservation programs to help fight the declining population of pollinators.

Brandon then served as a confidential assistant in USDA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services.  He was elevated to the position of Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs (DAFP), overseeing all FSA programs under the Production Emergencies and Compliance Division (PECD), Conservation and Environmental Programs Division (CEPD), and Price Support Division (PSD).

Brandon recently accepted the position of Special Advisor to USDA Secretary Vilsack on farm programs and crop insurance issues.

The class had an opportunity to talk with Brandon about farm policy, current issues regarding the budget deficit and cuts to farm programs, and the 2012 Farm Bill.  He did a great job explaining the programs and the current political climate to the class.

Our thanks is extended to Brandon for doing a great job!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Meeting the Slow Food Value Meal Challenge

In response to a lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables, people eating more fast food than home-cooked meals, and increasing rates of diet-related disease, Slow Food USA launched The $5 Challenge campaign. The organization, a national non-profit working for good, clean and fair food for all, is encouraging people across the country to cook slow food that costs no more than five dollars per person. Slow food – the opposite of fast food – is food that is good for those who eat it, good for farmers and workers, and good for the planet.
“Slow food shouldn’t have to cost more than fast food. It’s time we take back the ‘Value Meal,’” said Josh Viertel, president of Slow Food USA.On Sept. 17, the campaign will launch with a Day of Action where people can attend any one of the hundreds of slow food gatherings nationwide. To participate in The $5 Challenge, all one has to do is pledge to cook a slow food meal for five dollars or less, or attend a local event.

I am pleased to report that thanks to Martha Dragich, Visiting Scholar and LL.M. Candidate, the LL.M. program met the Slow Food Value Meal Challenge last Saturday with a wonderful meal.  It was a delightful gathering and a great opportunity for us all to get to know one another better, to enjoy good local food, and to prove that preparing and eating good food together can be enjoyable AND very affordable.

Martha prepared a menu for us, indicating not only what she was serving but what the ingredients were and where all the food was sourced.  It was delicious!!

Tomato-Braised Spareribs & Sausages
Spareribs & Sweet Apple Sausages: Mason Creek Farm; Onions & Carrots:          Fayetteville Farmers’ Market vendors; San Marzano tomatoes (canned): grown in the USA!
Polenta: Ozark Natural Foods (bulk, organic)
Italian-Style Chickpeas
Chickpeas: Ozark Natural Foods (bulk, organic); onions & tomatoes: Fayetteville Farmers’ Market vendors; garlic (organic): Chert Hollow Farm (Columbia, MO); herbs: my patio (Columbia, MO)
Braised Swiss Chard (and a bit of savoy cabbage)
Chard (organic) & onion: Fayetteville Farmers’ Market vendors; garlic & savoy cabbage (both organic): Chert Hollow Farm (Columbia, MO)
Parmigiano Reggiano & Pecorino Romano (optional)
Imported from Italy, via World Harvest Foods (Columbia, MO)
Olive Oil Cake with Sauteed Apples & Pears
Cornmeal: War Eagle Mill (organic); eggs & pears (both organic): JJR Family Farm (Columbia, MO); honey: Bonne Femme Honey Farm (Columbia, MO); apples: Binder’s Apple & Berry Farm (Columbia, MO); milk (organic): Green Hills Dairy (MO); flour, sugar, & baking powder: Big Food companies; olive oil: Sicily.

Here are some of Martha's favorite strategies for preparing an affordable, yet delicious meal:

1. Eliminate one course (usually either appetizer or dessert).

2. Plan for reasonable portion sizes.

3. Use meat sparingly.

4. Use grains and beans to make the meal substantial.

5. Cook simply, using a small number of top-quality ingredients.

6. Learn how to get the most flavor from each ingredient.

7. Use strongly flavored ingredients, in small amounts.

8. Use all parts of each ingredient.

9. Use what you have on hand (staples, leftovers, foods you have preserved, etc.).

10. Buy in bulk (rather than in packages), and buy raw ingredients rather than partially-prepared foods.

Here are some photos from the event, including help with preparation of the meal from LL.M. candidates, Volha Samasiuk, Alli Condra, Ashley Newhall, and Gina Cucurullo.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rural Friendship Development Day

A number of the LL.M. candidates participated in a local event last week, Rural Friendship Development Day. The event began with breakfast at Farm Bureau Insurance followed by a series of speakers who addressed our local food system. Included were representatives from Wal-mart's local food initiative, Harps, a regional employee-owned grocery store chain, and Ozark Natural Foods, the local food cooperative. Each discussed how locally grown fresh produce is bought and marketed in their stores, and the impact of this on our community.  Participants then toured two area farms Cobblestone Project Farm and MWD Farms.  The Cobblestone Project Farm in Fayetteville is a special initiative designed to use agriculture to help the under-resourced in Northwest Arkansas by focusing on Hunger Relief, Education, Economic Development, Community, Food Production and Sustainability.  MWD Farms in Prairie Grove is a local family farm that now markets its produce through Walmart.

The LL.M. candidates thoroughly enjoyed the event and came back with many interesting issues to discuss.

As most of our LL.M. candidates come from out of state, we are always pleased to have opportunities for them to learn more about our community.  We are proud, and they are sometimes surprised at all that   Fayetteville has to offer.  Special thanks to Julianne Darnell, the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce Manager of Communications for her efforts in organizing the event.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Agricultural Law Around the World

In past classes, we have been discussing family farming, industrialized production, and agrarianism in the context of the historical development of our agricultural sector and our food system.  Concerns regarding  sustainability, global food production, and natural resource consumption informed our understanding of the issues.  The LL.M. candidates have raised many important points, debated the issues, and we have had some wonderful class discussions.

On Friday, we had a special treat -  our two candidates with their law degrees outside of the United States gave us presentations on agriculture in their home countries.

Mirriam Kutha (Kalowa) presented on agriculture in Malawi.  Mirriam obtained her LL.B., with Honors, Upper Second Class, from the University of Malawi.  Her professional experience includes: Assistant Lecturer in Law, University of Malawi; Senior Resident Magistrate, Malawi; Internships include work with the Malawi Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Justice (Legal Aid Dept.) Her dissertation was titled The Effects of the Proposed Amendments to Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code in Relation to Sexual Offenses. She is a past president of the Women’s Lawyers Association of Malawi.

As Mirriam told the class, The Republic of Malawi is a landlocked country in southeast Africa bordered by Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique.  One geographic feature is its large and beautiful Lake Malawi. Mirriam's excellent presentation included information about farming in Malawi, the absence of modern technology, and recent struggles to maintain food security.  Of particular interest was her discussion of Malawi's divergence from internationally imposed goals focusing on export markets, to instead focus on domestic food security.

Volha Samasiuk presented on agriculture in her home country of Belarus.  Volha received her Diploma in Law with a specialization in Economic Law, and her Doctor of Philosophy in Law from Belarusian State University.  Her professional experience includes: Senior Lecturer, Belarusian State University Law Department, Minsk, Belarus (Civil Law, Intellectual Property Law); Legal Consultant, Belarus Food Safety Improvement Project, International Finance Corporation, The World Bank Group; Legal Editor and Member of the Editorial Board, JurSpectr LLC, Minsk, Belarus; Visiting Scholar, University of Washington School of Law; and Curriculum Research Fellow, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary.

 Belarus is a country in Eastern Europe bordering Russia, Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine. A former member state of the U.S.S.R., the government of Belarus continues to hold significant economic control.  Volha discussed the three different farming systems - the collectively held land farmed according to government production goals, the small family farm sector, and the private plots farmed by many citizens.  She also discussed the many acres of agricultural land that is still contaminated as a result of the Chernobyl nuclear explosion in Ukraine in 1986.

Appreciation is extended to Mirriam and Volha for doing such a good job teaching us a little about Malawi and Belarus.  We hope that this will be the first of many opportunities for us to learn from them.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Professor Kelley's International Law Work Noted

On Today's University of Arkansas Newswire, an article by Andy Albertson:

Christopher Kelley, a law professor at the University of Arkansas who recently returned from his Fulbright Fellowship in Moldova, was named vice-chair of the American Bar Association Section of International Law's International Legal Education and Specialist Certification Committee, effective Sept. 1. Kelley also became the immediate past co-chair of the ABA Section of International Law Russia/Eurasia Committee after serving for three years as a committee co-chair.

"Professor Kelley's work is consistent with the proud University of Arkansas tradition of international outreach, in the spirit of Senator Fulbright's vision," said Stacy L. Leeds, dean of the School of Law. “His leadership within the ABA and his series of digital video conferences bring remarkable opportunities for our students and faculty not only to share what the School of Law has to offer, but to build the international experience vital for success in an increasingly global law community.”

Kelley, who also was a Fulbright Scholar in Ukraine in 2005, has a role in several upcoming conferences related to international law. He will serve as conference deputy co-chair for the ABA Section of International Law's Third Annual Conference on the Resolution of CIS-Related Business Disputes to be held in Moscow, Russian Federation, on Sept. 12.

On Sept. 30, he will make a presentation on effects on transnational law practice of anti-corruption initiatives such as the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the new U.K. anti-bribery law at the Conference on the Globalization of Law Practice sponsored by Vytautus Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania.

Two weeks later, Kelley will serve as the moderator for a panel on Legal Employment in a Recessionary Economy: The Needs of Employers and Prospects for Transnational Lawyers at the ABA Section of International Law fall meeting in Dublin, Ireland.

At the School of Law, Kelley will continue to teach courses this semester via digital video conferencing to law students at Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv, Ukraine, and at the Law Faculty of Moldova State University in Chisinau, Moldova. He also is planning to teach students at the Institute of International Relations of Moldova through digital video conferencing.

And, yes, Professor Kelley continues to teach in the LL.M. Program!  This semester he is teaching Agriculture & the Environment.  In addition to covering U.S. environmental law, he is able to weave his international perspectives and expertise into a consideration of the global sustainability issues associated with agricultural production.   He also teaches Administrative Law in the J.D. Program.  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Neil Hamilton Teaches Introductory LL.M. Course

Each year, we are pleased to welcome Professor Neil Hamilton as our first visiting professor, teaching our orientation course in the LL.M. Program, An Introduction to the Law of Food and Agriculture.  He will be with us  Thursday-Saturday this week, ending his visit with a trip to the Fayetteville Farmers Market.

Professor Hamilton is a long-time friend and colleague, and he was instrumental in the founding of our LL.M. Program, serving as one of our first professors in 1981. He is now the the Dwight D. Opperman Chair of Law at the Drake University School of Law and the Director of the Drake Agricultural Law Center.  He is recognized as one of the nation's most respected agricultural law scholars, with particular expertise in sustainable agriculture and the local food movement.  The readings for the class include his latest article, Moving Toward Food Democracy: Better Food, New Farmers, and the Myth of Feeding the World appears at 16 Drake J. Agric. L. 117 (2011).

Here are some photos of class today -

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Welcome to the LL.M. Class of 2012!

We are delighted to welcome our new class of LL.M. candidates.  This year, they again come from diverse backgrounds and locations, united by their interest in the laws and policies that affect agricultural production and our overall food system.  Members of the LL.M. Class of 2012 have law degrees from the University of Minnesota, the University of North Carolina, Drake University, the University of Kentucky, the University of North Carolina Central, Texas Tech University, Golden Gate University, the University of Arkansas, Belarusian State University, and the University of Malawi.  They come from Arkansas, California, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Texas, North Carolina, Washington, Belarus, and Malawi.  And, they include two law professors, a couple of experienced attorneys, and some very impressive recent law graduates.

Here are short bios of the class -  I am sure everyone will agree that we will have a great year working with them!  Watch future posts for photos.

J. Grant Ballard
B.S., cum laude, University of Arkansas (Agribusiness, Environmental Science minor)
J.D., University of Arkansas School of Law
Member, Journal of Food Law & Policy;  Recipient of 2010 Pro Bono Service Award
Professional experience includes: Clerkship with Taylor Law Partners LLP, Fayetteville

Kristy Boehler
B.A., cum laude, Drake University (Political Science and Law, Politics and Society)
J.D., summa cum laude, University of Arkansas School of Law
Member, Arkansas Law Review; Authored, Poultry Growers in Arkansas: Agents or Independent Contractors? 63 Ark. L. Rev. 849 (2010)
Professional experience includes: Clerkship with Bassett Law Firm

Ashley Newhall-Caballero
B.S., magna cum laude, Arizona State University (Business Finance)
J.D., Texas Tech University School of Law
Professional experience includes: Internship, Padfield & Stout, LLP; Management Analyst, Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University

Allison Condra
B.A., California Lutheran University (Interdisciplinary Studies in Pre-Naturopathic Medicine)
J.D., High Honors, Drake University Law School; Certificate in Food & Agricultural Law
Winner of the 2011 J. Envtl. L. & Litg. Writing Competition (Univ. of Oregon)
Professional experience includes: Internship, Iowa Attorney General’s Office; Research Assistant to Professor Neil Hamilton; Farmers Market Outreach Assistant, Buy Fresh Buy Local, Drake University Agricultural Law Center; Policy Consultant, USDA Farm Service Agency

Regina Cucurullo
B.A., magna cum laude, North Carolina State University (Political Science, Criminology minor)
J.D., magna cum laude, North Carolina Central University School of Law
Member, North Carolina Center University Law Review
Recipient 2011 Pro Bono Service Award
International Nutrition and Health Study Abroad Program, Leysin, Switzerland
Professional experience includes: Internship, North Carolina Attorney General’s office; Judicial Internship, The Hon. Tara J. Fentress, Associate Judge, District of Columbia Superior Court

Vade Donaldson
B.A., Seattle University (Literature)
J.D., Golden Gate University School of Law
Public Interest Law Scholar; Public Interest Specialty Certification; Dean’s Service Award
Professional experience includes: Public Defender, Society of Counsel Representing Accused Persons, Seattle, WA; Attorney I, Suquamish Tribe;  Attorney, Snohomish County Public Defender Association
Admitted to practice law in Washington State and before the Suquamish Tribe

Martha Dragich
B.A., University of Minnesota (Linguistics)
M.A., University of Minnesota (Library Science)
J.D., University of Minnesota Law School
Serving as the James S. Rollins Professor of Law at University of Missouri – Columbia School of Law and joining the class as an LL.M. Candidate and Visiting Scholar
Recent publications include: Uniformity, Inferiority, and the Law of the Circuit Doctrine, 56 Loyola L. Rev. 535 (2010).

Cathy Franck
B.A., Brown University (English)
J.D., University of Kentucky College of Law
Professional experience includes:  Agricultural & Food Law Policy Researcher;  Licensed Realtor, Kentucky Select Properties; Public Relations/Marketing Director, Humana Inc.
Recent Presentations: Food & Agriculture: The Law and Policy of a Sustainable Food System; Environmental Law for Lending Institutions and Real Estate Transactions
Admitted to practice law in Kentucky

Elizabeth Mashie Gunsaulis
B.A., Boston University (Political Science)
J.D., University of Arkansas School of Law
Professional experience includes:  Clerkship, Benson & Wood Law Firm, Fayetteville, AR; Corporate Externship, Tyson Foods; Judicial Externship, Judge Robin Green, Benton County, AR

Judd Jensen
B.S., Concordia College (Biology; Chemistry and History minors)
J.D., High Honors, Drake University Law School; Certificate in Food & Agricultural Law
Professional experience includes: Legal Clerkship, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition; Legal Clerkship, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Ames, Iowa;  Legal Internship, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Air Quality Legal Division;  Energy Program Internship, Iowa Environmental Council; Quality Assurance Technician, Johanna Beverage Company, Spokane, WA

Mirriam Kutha (Kalowa)
LL.B., with Honors, Upper Second Class, University of Malawi
Professional experience includes: Assistant Lecturer in Law, University of Malawi; Senior Resident Magistrate, Malawi; Internships include work with the Malawi Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Justice (Legal Aid Dept.)
Dissertation: The Effects of the Proposed Amendments to Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code in Relation to Sexual Offenses
President, Women’s Lawyers Association of Malawi

Volha Samasiuk 
Diploma in Law, Belarusian State University (Specialization in Economic Law)
Doctor of Philosophy in Law, Belarusian State University
Professional experience includes: Senior Lecturer, Belarusian State University Law Department, Minsk, Belarus (Civil Law, Intellectual Property Law); Legal Consultant, Belarus Food Safety Improvement Project, International Finance Corporation, The World Bank Group; Legal Editor and Member of the Editorial Board, JurSpectr LLC, Minsk, Belarus; Visiting Scholar, University of Washington School of Law; Curriculum Research Fellow, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

S. Chris Saunders
B.S., North Carolina State University (Chemical Engineering)
B.S., North Carolina State University (English) (Ben Franklin Scholars Dual Degree Program)
J.D., University of North Carolina School of Law
Co-authored presentation at 2010 American Agricultural Law Association Symposium, Solar Energy: Is It Really A Bright Idea for Farmers? (with Ray Starling, General Counsel, North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services)
Professional experience includes: Legal Internship, North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services; Legal Internship, Currituck County Attorney’s Office; Legal Intern, Intellectual Property/Technology Law