Monday, October 29, 2012

Allen Olson Teaches Federal Farm Programs Class

Allen Olson is back with us teaching in the LL.M. Program as one of our condensed course professors.  He is teaching a course on Federal Farm Programs, and he teaches it with a real emphasis on what it's like to represent farmers, including those with large and small operations.

With over 30 years of experience as a practicing lawyer, much of it involved in representing farmers and agribusinesses, plus prior teaching experience in the LL.M. Program, we are always delighted to welcome Allen back to Fayetteville.

Allen received his B.A. from Cornell University in 1971, his J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1974, and his LL.M. in Agricultural Law from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1996. He has practiced law in Virginia, Nebraska and Georgia.

He is a past member of the Board of Directors of the American Agricultural Law Association and is a past Chair of the Agriculture Law Section of the Georgia State Bar. He is the author of numerous articles on agricultural law topics and is a frequent speaker at agricultural law conferences nationwide.

Allen has a law office in Albany, Georgia with a practice concentrated on agricultural law matters, including federal farm programs, payment limitations, USDA administrative appeals, crop insurance litigation, conservation easements, farm business planning, and other matters affecting farmers and related agricultural businesses.

This is the third year in a row that Allen has taught this course.  He has been warmly received by the LL.M. candidates and maintains contact with several of our alumni who are developing their practices.  We are grateful for his assistance and his expertise.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fayetteville 2030: Food City Scenario Plan

The LL.M. Program is pleased to support the work of the Community Design Center, an outreach center of the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas in its exciting work on urban agricultural planning for future area growth.

As was announced last week, an interdisciplinary team at the University of Arkansas will work with the City of Fayetteville and local non-governmental organizations to create Fayetteville 2030: Food City Scenario Plan. This urban agricultural plan will be designed for a city that is expected to double in population over the next 20 years. The goal is to incorporate local food sourcing within the city.

The design center recently received $15,000 in seed money from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) to begin the project. The award is part of the new Decade of Design awards sponsored by the AIA in partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. The project may well serve as a national and international model for agrarian urbanism.

I was delighted to meet with some of the architecture students a few weeks ago to introduce law and policy issues into their discussion at the invitation of Professor Jeffrey Huber, assistant director for the Community Design Center and adjunct professor in the Fay Jones School.  One of our current LL.M. candidates, Sara Albert, plans to do work with urban agricultural initiatives next semester, working with Professor Huber on this project. We are fortunate at the University of Arkansas to have the Community Design Center taking such a leadership role on emerging issues.

Read more about this exciting project in the full announcement, available on the School of Law's website, Design Center to Partner with City, Local NGOs to Create Urban Agricultural Scenario Plan.

American Agricultural Law Association Conference in Nashville

I recently attended the annual American Agricultural Law Association (AALA) conference, held this year in Nashville, Tennessee. Eight of this year's LL.M. candidates accompanied me to the conference, and I was pleased to have them there.  LL.M. Candidates Andy Frame and Erin Kee had been to an AALA conference before, but for the others, it was a new experience. Lauren Handel, Adam Soliman, Abe Inouye, James Haley, Blake Rollins, and Uche Nwude - welcome to the AALA.

There were about 220 attorneys in attendance.  Twenty-four were alumni of our LL.M. Program -  excellent representation -  and it was great to them and to catch up with all of their news.

Our first speaker was USDA Secretary Vilsack who delivered a fast-paced analysis of current initiatives at the USDA and slammed Congress for failing to pass the 2012 Farm Bill. The Senate passed its version, and the House Committee passed a version as well. But, the House leadership has refused to bring the bill up for a full vote in the House.

Secretary Vilsack also took the opportunity to acknowledge three agricultural leaders in the crowd -  Neil Hamilton, Dwight D. Opperman Chair of Law, Professor of Law, and Director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University;  Neil Harl, Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture, Emeritus Professor of Economics at Iowa State; and the USDA's own David Grahn, Associate General Counsel for International Affairs, Food Assistance, and Farm and Rural Programs Division.  He thanked David for his wise counsel, his dedicated service to the USDA, and his extensive knowledge of farm policy.  He called him "one of the best lawyers I know." This was a great introduction for our LL.M. candidates -  David will be joining us November 12-13 for a condensed session on farm policy.

It was again my pleasure to present during our opening plenary sessions, providing an update on food law developments over the past year.  Appreciation is extended to LL.M. Candidate Nicole Civita for her assistance with my presentation.  I am proud to report that twelve of our alumni were presenters at the conference.

Jeff Peterson (Principal, Gray Plant Mooty) delivered the Commercial Law Update during the Friday morning plenary session.

Alison Peck (Associate Professor, University of West Virginia College of Law) coordinated and moderated the new Friday morning plenary session, The State of American Agricultural Law.

Beth Crocker (General Counsel, South Carolina Dept of Agriculture) and Jason Foscolo (Food Law Attorney, Jason Foscolo, LLC) presented on The Pros and Cons of Cottage Food Regulation.

Joel Cape (Everett, Wales & Comstock) and Terence Centner, (Professor, U. of Georgia College of Ag. and Environmental Sciences) spoke on Pesticide Spray Drift: Liability and Litigation.

Rusty Rumley (Staff Attorney, National Agricultural Law Center) presented on Protecting Clients in Hunting, Recreational and Agri-tourism Enterprises.

Jeff Ferrick (General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer, The Clemens Family Corp.) Beth Rumley (Staff Attorney, National Agricultural Law Center) spoke on Real World Implications of Farm Animal Welfare Laws and Agreements.

Alison Peck (Associate Professor, University of West Virginia College of Law) moderated and Ross Pifer (Clinical Professor, Director of the Rural Economic Development Clinic, and Director of the Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center) and spoke at the session on Energy Development and Farmland Impacts.

Harrison Pittman (Director, National Agricultural Law Center) coordinated and moderated the plenary session on Saturday afternoon, The Farm Bill in 2012: Looking Forward by Looking Back? Anne Hazlett, Republican Chief Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry underRanking Member Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas presented.

Other alumni in attendance were Michael Knipe (USDA Office of General Counsel), Lauren Medoff (AdvoCare International), Claire Mitchell (Stoel Reeves), Cassie Peters (Downstream Strategies), Jennifer Zwaggerman (Drake University School of Law), Alli Condra (Harvard Law School Food Law & Policy Clinic), Teena Gunter (Oklahoma Dept of Ag, Food & Forestry), Paul Goeringer (University of Maryland), Judd Jensen (Baumstark Braaten Law Partners), and Stanley Lawson (Stanley R. Lawson Attorney at Law).  Such a very impressive group!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

LL.M Alum Cassie Peters Publishes Report on Local Food System

There is increasing demand for locally grown and raised food throughout the country, and in West Virginia, one of our alumni is working to assist the growing number of farmers and local food businesses working to meet this demand.

Cassie Peters, who received her LL.M. degree in 2012, serves as the Agriculture and Food Policy Manager of the Land Program at Downstream Strategies.  Her work focuses on issues
related to sustainable agricultural methods, local food systems, and urban agriculture. The Land Program offers expertise in land-based issues ranging from rural economies to food systems, with services that include land use planning, food system assessments, and economic and policy analyses for a variety of issues related to agricultural science and policy, energy, and food systems.

Last week, Cassie and her Downstream Strategies co-workers released an important local food system report, West Virginia Food System: Opportunities and Constraints in Local Food Supply Chains.  This report examines the existing local food supply chain infrastructure in the state, including processors, aggregators, distributors, and retail markets. The report includes profiles of local food businesses and a directory of local food resources. The report was produced for West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition and West Virginia Community Development Hub, with funding from the Benedum Foundation and the blue moon fund.  The report will be extremely helpful in West Virginia's developing local food systems and also serve as a helpful model for other states to follow.  We are proud of Cassie's leadership in this emerging area of law and policy.

Food Safety and Developing Countries

LL.M. Program alumna, Mirriam Kutha recently published an excellent essay in Food Safety News, Why Low-Income Countries Should Care About Food Safety.  In it, Mirriam notes that while food safety is "one of the most ignored areas of policy in low-income countries, especially in Africa" food safety concerns are a threat not only to domestic consumers but involvement in international trade.  There are barriers that are encountered.  Developing and enforcing a food safety system is expensive and requires a significant commitment of resources.  And, food insecurity concerns may cause food safety issues to stay in the background.  Mirriam effectively argues, however, that the development of a food safety regime can actually "[b]oost food safety on a local level, [i]ncrease revenue through international food trade, and [b]olster food security."  It is a thoughtful essay based on additional work she has done in this area.

Mirriam just was awarded her LL.M. degree in Agricultural and Food Law.  She also holds an LL.B. with honors from the University of Malawi.  She holds a Certficate in Growing Solutions to End Hunger from the ONE Campaign and WFP USA.  Her professional experience includes being an Assistant Lecturer in Law at the University of Malawi and a Senior Resident Magistrate Judiciary Malawi.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Visit to Tri-Cycle Farms

The LL.M. class took a trip to visit an amazing community farm in the heart of residential Fayetteville -  Tri Cycle Farms.  There, they really do what their motto provides, "building community through soil."

Tri Cycle Farms describes itself as "a community urban farm working to address food insecurity by growing food and teaching others to grow food."

Friends and neighbors have worked together to reclaim 2 acres of urban landscape, creating a beautiful, productive garden that has produced an amazing amount of good food - all in the first year of the project.  Their continuing goal is to "strive to create community by reconnecting with the land, with people, with food, and with each other."

The LL.M. class took a Wednesday afternoon trip to Tri Cycle, located just south of campus. There, we met the force behind the farms' effort and its founder, Don Bennett.  Don spoke with passion and determination. As Don explained, the name, "Tri” Cycle Farms, refers to the use of the produce they grow:  one third is donated to those in need; one third is goes to those who help do the work to grow it; and one third is sold to generate money to invest back in the farm.

Although Tri Cycle has only been in operation for just over a year, they are already actively involved in teaching gardening and farming skills, donating fresh organic nutrient-dense food to those experiencing food insecurity, hosting classes on the use of fresh produce and herbs, doing community outreach, and sharing their vision for the development of sustainable community-based food system.

Legal and policy issues come up in many ways.  The City of Fayetteville is now considering an urban agriculture initiative, and an number of groups are assessing both current and proposed ordinances. A city's legal structure can either help or impeded the development of urban farms and related agricultural activities. The visit to Tri Cycle led the class to consider all of these issues.  And, it led several in the class to volunteer at Tri Cycle and several more to attend the Tri Cycle Farms fundraiser, the First Annual Pesto Fest at Greenhouse Grille. We hope to stay abreast of Don's efforts as well as the legal and policy issues raised by urban and community-based agriculture.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dinner with the Adams and Hutts

After the first night of the class, Law School Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs and Registrar, Rhonda Adams and her husband Chuck, a University of Arkansas English Professor and the Associate Dean of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences hosted a wonderful dinner party at their Fayetteville home for Professor Hutt and his wife Catherine, the LL.M. class, and selected law school faculty and administrators.  This event allowed the LL.M. candidates to interact informally with Professor Hutt, continuing their classroom discussions in a welcoming informal setting. It was a wonderful evening.

We were also delighted to have the opportunity to talk with Professor Hutt's wife, and Dean Chuck Adams' sister, Catherine. Catherine Adams Hutt is a food policy professional of great distinction in her own right.  Catherine is a Senior Advisor at Leavitt Partners and a partner in Sloan Trends. She is also the founder and president of the not-for-profit regulatory think tank, The Rialto Conference, serves on the board of the Institute of Food Technologists, serves as a consultant to the National Restaurant Association and Food Regulatory Solutions, and is a principal in RdR Solutions. She is the former Chief Quality Officer for McDonald’s Corporation and Coors Brewing Company and a former Assistant Administrator for the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.

We were pleased that LL.M. alumna Margie Alsbrook was able to join us for Professor Hutt's class and our dinner gathering.  While Margie was in law school, she served as the first editor of the Journal of Food Law & Policy. The Journal was honored to publish Professor Hutt's article, Food Law & Policy: An Essay in its first issue, and Margie worked with Professor Hutt through the publishing process. Margie now serves as a Washington County Justice of the Peace and an attorney with Alsbrook Legal Services.

Our appreciation is expressed to Rhonda and Chuck for hosting such a wonderful gathering for us.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

New Condensed Course Taught by Peter Barton Hutt

We were pleased to add a very distinguished professor to the ranks of condensed course professors in the LL.M. Program this semester, Peter Barton Hutt.

Professor Hutt has taught Food & Drug Law at Harvard for the past 18 years and is the lead author of the casebook, Food and Drug Law: Cases and Materials (Foundation Press, 1st edition 1980, 2d edition 1991, 3d edition 2007).  He has published more than 175 book chapters and articles on Food and Drug Law and on health policy.

Professor Hutt is a senior counsel in the Washington, DC law firm of Covington & Burling, specializing in Food and Drug Law. From 1971 to 1975 he was Chief Counsel for the Food and Drug Administration. While at FDA he drafted the legislation that became the Medical Device Amendments of 1976, and beginning in 1962 he has participated in the drafting of most of the major legislation amending the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.  He has testified before the House and Senate more than 100 times either as a witness or as counsel accompanying a witness.He has represented the national trade associations for the food, prescription drug, nonprescription drug, dietary supplement, and cosmetic industries.

From Professor Hutt’s bio on the Covington & Burling website:
Mr. Hutt was named by The Washingtonian magazine as one of Washington's 50 best lawyers . . .  and as one of Washington's 100 most influential people; by the National Law Journal as one the 40 best health care lawyers in the United States; and by Global Counsel as the best FDA regulatory specialist in Washington, DC.  Business Week referred to Mr. Hutt in June 2003 as the "unofficial dean of Washington food and drug lawyers."  In naming Mr. Hutt in September 2005 as one of the eleven best food and drug lawyers, the Legal Times also referred to him as "the dean of the food-and-drug bar."  In April 2005, he was presented the Distinguished Alumni Award by FDA.  In May 2005, he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award for research advocacy by the Foundation for Biomedical Research.
Professor Hutt lectured for two full days, covering many of the most important aspects of food regulation by the FDA.  He engaged the class in lively discussions and provided an invaluable inside look at FDA regulation.

Friday, October 5, 2012

LL.M. Candidates Tour Tyson Discovery Center

This year's LL.M. class had the opportunity to tour Tyson Foods' state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot Discovery Center on the campus of its world headquarters in Springdale, Arkansas.  This new facility, which opened in 2007 houses over one hundred of the company's research and development staff. In addition to offices and meeting areas, the Discovery Center has 19 kitchens, multiple product testing areas, and a 40,000-square-foot multi-protein, USDA-inspected pilot plant. To see a video of the Discovery Center go to the Tyson Videos website.

Some of the goals of the Discovery Center are to stimulate new product development and to decrease the time that it takes get new products on the market.

It was a very interesting tour conducted by University of Arkansas School of Law alumna, Christine Daugherty.  Christine is the Director of Intellectual Property & Technological Development at Tyson Foods.  Previously, she served as Senior Counsel in Tyson's legal department, and before that as a Patent Attorney with Wright, Lindsey & Jennings, LLP.  Christine's office is located in the Discovery Center, close to the R&D professionals that she advises.  Her insight into the design of the Discovery Center as a research and development hub and her explanation of the ongoing activities at the Center were fascinating.

Appreciation is extended to Christine and to Tyson Foods for our tour.