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