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."