Monday, January 30, 2012

LL.M. Alumni News

I have just begun work on our annual LL.M. Program newsletter.  Alumni news is always a significant part of the newsletter, but I also try to highlight some of our alumni accomplishments here on the blog as well.  In addition to some of our previous posts, here are some new developments.

To our other alumni, please send your news to us so we can pass it on through the blog and the newsletter.

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture sent Benjamin Thomas on a special detail to the Senate Committee on Agriculture.  Ben will assist the Committee and its staff with ongoing discussions related to pending legislation involving agricultural and rural issues.  Ben was a member of last year's LL.M. class and accepted a position with the USDA in Washington last Spring.  Ben reports that he is honored for the opportunity assist the Senate, and he looks forward to bringing his experiences back to the USDA.

Michael Roberts is teaching Consumer Food Law & Policy courses at both UCLA (Fall Semester) and UC Davis (Spring Semester) in addition to his work as Special Counsel to Roll Global Companies and the development of the Center for Food Law and Policy (CFLP), a newly formed non-profit organization that advances thoughtful policymaking through innovative legal scholarship on food law and policy.

  • Cassie Peters accepted a new position as Agriculture and Food Policy Manager with Downstream Strategies in Morgantown, West Virginia, an environmental consulting firm that links economic development with natural resource stewardship.  Her work focuses on issues related to sustainable agricultural methods, local food systems, and urban agriculture.  

The Kansas City Business Journal, People on the Move reported on M. Gayle Packer's recent promotion. Gayle now serves as Executive Vice-President and Chief Administrative Officer at Terracon. It this position, she manages the corporate services provided to Terracon’s 130 offices nationwide and facilitates the firm’s acquisition program.

  • Liliana Reyes Botero just began a new job in Columbia serving as the Legal Director of Fiduagraria, a trust company that specializes its services to the agricultural sector.

    Kerri Boling joined the law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels as an Associate Attorney in their Des Moines, Iowa office.  She is a a member of the firm's food and agriculture industry team.

    We are proud of all of our diverse alumni contributions and confident that they are representing us well in all walks of life -  

    Saturday, January 28, 2012

    Farm to School Pilot Project

    Produce at the Fayetteville Farmers Market, photo by Martha Dragich,
    Visiting Professor and LL.M. Candidate
    I was delighted to attend a meeting with an impressive group of community leaders who are implementing a new pilot program to link Fayetteville Public Schools with locally sourced fresh foods through direct purchase from area farmers.  The program should serve as an effective model for other school districts throughout the state.

    The project is a creative collaboration led by Professor Curt Rom at the Horticulture Department of the University of Arkansas Bumpers College of Agriculture and including the Fayetteville Public School System, Feed FayettevilleApple Seeds, Inc., our local office of the National Center for Appropriate Technology, and the local National Public Radio Station, KUAF.

    The project will include work with farmers to promote sustainable farming management systems, GAP procedures, documentation to ensure product health and safety, and risk management. A nutrition education program for the children will include grower visits to the classroom, field trips to the farmers' market, farm visits, and food choice lessons. And, over the summer when produce is readily available and public school kitchens are underutilized, a program for minimally processing the food will be put into place for use later during the school year.

    I have rarely attended a meeting that was so well directed, positive, and collaborative. It once again made me proud of our community. Alumni from the LL.M. Program will know exactly what I mean, and those considering the Program in the future can be reassured. There are many good things involving food and agriculture here in Northwest Arkansas, and the LL.M. Program is just one of them.

    Thursday, January 26, 2012

    David Grahn: Farm Policy & the Federal Budget

    And, this week -  we were proud to host another top USDA official from Washington, D.C., our good friend David Grahn.

    David serves at the USDA Office of General Counsel as Associate General Counsel for International Affairs, Food Assistance, Farm and Rural Programs.  He represents the interests of a wide range of USDA entities: Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency / Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, Rural Development Agency, Rural Business Service, Rural Utilities Service, Foreign Agricultural Service, the Food and Nutrition Service, and the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

    David spent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday with our LL.M. class explaining complex aspects of agricultural policy development.  Much of the class was devoted to understanding how the federal budget drives policy development and how administrative law can be used strategically to affect policy outcomes.  It was a practical, real-world look at how agencies work, how political goals can best be met, and how money works in Washington.

    As always, David offered support for our efforts to educate the our LL.M. candidates in the complex issues involving agricultural and food law and policy.  His contribution to our efforts is invaluable.  We are grateful for his support, and our candidates are delighted with the opportunity to learn from him.

    A special note that is a testimony to David's professionalism -  In order to avoid any possible conflict of interest or funding issue, David volunteers his time to the Program.

    Saturday, January 21, 2012

    Janie Hipp Visits LL.M. Class

    We were delighted to host our alumnus, Janie Hipp last Friday. 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 delivered a powerful message about her work with tribal members and the USDA's efforts to rebuild trust and encourage participation.

    Just last month, Janie received special recognition for her liaison work with the nation's tribes at the Indian Agriculture Symposium, in Las Vegas, Nevada.


    We are delighted to provide our LL.M. candidates the opportunity to learn from and interact with our alumni.  Having our graduates in such high positions within the USDA is an honor and a tribute to the talented LL.M. candidates that go through our Program.  We look forward to working with Janie on Program initiatives going forward.

    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    The Role of Lawyers in the Food Movement

    Last month, Emily Broad Leib, Senior Clinical Fellow in the Health Law and Policy Clinic at Harvard Law School spoke at a TEDx forum on food policy.
    Well-crafted food policy should fulfill a range of goals, including increasing access to healthy foods, improving economic development for small producers, reducing obesity and diet-related disease, and increasing food security.
    Professor Leib discusses the role that lawyers (and law students) can play in developing food policy, and she references our LL.M. Program's role in training lawyers to do just that.  Here is her excellent presentation -

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    Dean Leeds' Leadership Featured in Article

    I encourage everyone to check out the article that was just posted on our new Dean at the UA School of Law, Stacy Leeds.  Dean Leeds' leadership has already been shown in the ideas and the energy that she brings to the LL.M. Program.  This week she is teaching a condensed course, Doing Business in Indian Country that several of our LL.M. candidates are taking.  Going forward, we hope to tackle some of the complex issues that arise in the merger of agricultural law, food law, and tribal law.

    Great things in store . . .

    Stacy Leeds knows what it is to be a leader and a mentor … she has been one her entire adult life. And if you spend some time talking with her, you will find that leadership is something that seems to come to her naturally. There is a confidence in the way she speaks that makes you realize this is someone who is used to speaking up and getting results.
    These days she is speaking up plenty in her new position as dean of the University of Arkansas Law School in Fayetteville, a position she took on just six months ago. The school is one of only two law schools in the state of Arkansas, with a student population of approximately 445 students. As a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, Leeds is the first female American Indian to head a law school. But even before this appointment, the 40-year-old single mother from Tahlequah was already a leader. . . .