Sunday, October 28, 2012

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!

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