Saturday, January 25, 2014

USDA Associate General Counsel Teaches Course on Farm Policy

Last week, we were proud to welcome our good friend David Grahn who flew in from Washington, D.C. to teach a condensed course for us, Farm Policy and the Federal Budget.

David serves in 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 part of Wednesday in concentrated sessions with our LL.M. students, 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.

David's time with us this year was interspersed with phone calls and emails from D.C. David is often asked by those working with the House and Senate Agriculture committees to comment on the technical language used in the farm legislation that is being drafted, including the farm bill, and he provides wise counsel.

The LL.M. students were delighted with the class.  Comments included "eye-opening look at federal policy,"  "great teacher - explains complicated information so clearly,"  "best class in my 20 years of education" and, "amazing opportunity."  Student evaluations that most professors only dream of . . .

A special note that is a testimony to David's professionalism -  in order to avoid any possible conflict of interest, David volunteers his time to the LL.M. Program.  He takes vacation days, pays his own travel and stays with Christopher and me in our rustic home in the Ozarks where our menagerie of dogs and cats also think he is just the greatest.  Thanks, David.

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