Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Phil Kunkel Returns to Teach Contracting Class

We are pleased to announce that commercial law expert, Philip Kunkel of the law firm of Gray Plant Mooty based in Minnesota, will be returning next month to teach his popular course, Field to Table: The Use (and Occasional Abuse) of Marketing Contracts and Production Contracts in Agriculture. Phil's knowledge and experience in the area of agricultural contracting is unsurpassed, and in this course he integrates caselaw, regulatory law, and policy with real world examples of contracting disputes.  Included in the course materials are examples of contracts used in a variety of agricultural sectors, from hog production to grapes for wine production, as well as selected comments to the proposed new GIPSA rules. The course is a perfect follow-up to our Regulation of Livestock Sales class taught by Vince Chadick in the Fall. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bill Marler Receives Professional Achievement Award

Congratulations to our Visiting Professor, Bill Marler!  Professor Marler has been awarded Seattle University's Professional Achievement Award, an award given in recognition of "exceptional achievement in the professional arena."

This week is clearly evidence of that exceptional achievement. Bill first attended a mediation in the E. coli O157:H7 case of Linda Rivera in San Francisco. Linda has been hospitalized since May of 2009. Her tragic story was told in the Washington Post story, This Woman Might Die From Eating Cookie Dough: Severe Case Gives Context to the Issue of Food Safety.

After the mediation, Bill flew to Washington D.C. for a meeting with the U.S.  Justice Department to discuss the status of the federal prosecution of Stewart Parnell, President of Peanut Corporation of America, the company that shipped contaminated peanut butter, resulting in the 700 reported illnesses and 9 deaths.  A  press conference with clients followed the meeting.  See, Where is the Accountability?

Then, Bill delivered the keynote address to the Government Accountability Program's Whistleblower Conference, Employee Rights and the Food Safety Modernization Act. 

Meanwhile, Bill continued frequent activity on his @bmarler Twitter account and the Marler Blog.  On the blog this evening, he reported that it was "good to fly home in time to watch my daughter Sydney’s soccer match." He also reported on the letter waiting for him from the President of Seattle University advising him of the award.

We are honored to have Bill associated with our Program as one of our Visiting Professors, and we are pleased to have his support for our food law work in the LL.M. Program.  Again, Congratulations!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Record Breaking Snow Fall Shuts Down UA - But Not the LL.M. Program!

Well, perhaps the title to this post is a little sensational.  The entire University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, including the LL.M. Program is closed for today.  We received a record-breaking amount of snow -  more snow in 4 hours this morning than we usually receive in 3 years, hence a snow day.

However, the recent winter storms have been a great opportunity for those of us in the LL.M. Program to continue our experimentation with distance technology, and it is that technology that will help keep us on schedule.  It also allows me an opportunity to post about our use of technology in the classroom and to highlight a new development.

We already use live digital video conferences to bring the best legal experts that we can into our classes for special lectures.  Last semester, we conferenced with two former visiting professors, LL.M. alumnus, Doug O'Brien, who was serving as USDA Senior Advisor to Secretary Glickman, and long time friend and supporter, David Grahn, Associate General Counsel for Rural Development at the USDA.  And, we brought new experts into our classroom with video conferences with Charles Rawls, General Counsel for Farm Credit System and Randi Roth, Court Appointed Monitor in the landmark discrimination case of Pigford v. Glickman.

We use video resources such as FORAtv and news video clips in our regular classes.  And, we have a course called Agricultural Perspectives that uses documentaries to review and debate agricultural policy and perspectives.  In that class, we consider documentaries as far reaching as Guns, Germs, & Steel and Oh, Freedom After While to debate farm policy and our food system.

But, our newest technological resource is the ability to record a classroom presentation from home, using the law school's Echo Classroom Capture system.  This allows me to record a PowerPoint presentation with audio for the class.  As I live in the Ozark Mountains, just south of Fayetteville, and we received about 16 inches of snow this morning, that is how we will keep on schedule for tomorrow's Agricultural Labor class.  That's a view from my desk pictured above.  Later today, I will record a presentation for our class on the National Labor Relations Act and its exclusion of agricultural laborers from its protections.  I will email it to the class, and they can watch from the comfort and safety of their homes.  My appreciation is extended to our Library Director, Randy Thompson and our IT Echo expert, Bob Wheeler for their help in making this possible.

By the way, this snowy weather is not supposed to last long -  our weatherman has forecast 58 degrees by Monday.  The winter weather that reminds me of my home state of Minnesota will last for a few more days, and then it's back to "normal."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

News from the Class of 2011

We always keep our LL.M. candidates quite busy with their academic work.  Our alumni will attest to this!  

But, this year's class has somehow found time for a wide variety of activities outside of the classroom.  They are an energetic and eclectic group.  Here are just a few examples.  More to be posted later . . .  it is hard to keep up with them!

Marie David is a consultant for the Gates Foundation. Her task is to identify opportunities for small scale African farmers to increase their income through improved market access. The goal of the project is to triple the income of 150 million farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.  
Claire Mitchell writes for Food Safety News.  Her articles can be found on her author page.  She also volunteers at Habitat for Humanity here in Fayetteville.

Dorian Slaybod is a DJ at the UA campus student radio station, KXUA, 88.3 FM and also serves as Music Director. He compiled podcasts of his shows on a blog, The Essential with D.Marley, where he promises to play" all the songs you love, but just haven't heard yet." Dorian also blogs on agricultural labor issues in the news on his Agricultural Labor blog.

Allison Waldrip writes for the agricultural law blog sponsored by the National Agricultural Law Center and the American Agricultural Law Association.  And, she is a very talented vocalist, performing for the Razorback athletics events, singing the national anthem before games.

Lauren Medoff has written articles for the Agricultural Law Update, the newsletter of the American Agricultural Law Association and just started a new blog will alert readers to new food law developments, Food Law & Policy.

Jason Foscolo has a forthcoming article in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development. He is doing pro bono consulting with local farmers as well as participating in the Town of Fayetteville Environmental Subcommittee on sustainable agriculture. Jason also volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Arkansas.  Jason and David Jackson were both invited to present at the Annual Conference of the Agricultural History Society in Illinois. The conference topic: Quality versus Quantity: Competing Visions of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Life.

We have all learned a great deal from our international candidates - Professor Tae Huan Keum from The Republic of Korea, and Alexandra Gaintseva and Maxim Gubarev from Russia.

And then there was the kickball team last fall  . . .  not everyone was up to that particular challenge, but those participating had a lot of fun.   We are all having a lot of fun with this class!  Bios of the full class are posted at Introduction to the Class of 2011.