Sunday, April 27, 2014

LL.M. Candidates Recognized for Excellence

Two of this year's LL.M. candidates, Kathryn Smith and Erin Shirl were honored for their exceptional work this semester as externs in the food safety compliance division of Walmart.  They are pictured here with nationally recognized food safety expert,  Frank Yiannas and one of their supervising attorneys, our alumna, Amy White. Amy serves as the Food Safety and Health Manager for Labeling Compliance at Walmart.

Congratulations to Kathryn and Erin for a job well done.

LL.M. Alum Margie Alsbrook at Food Waste and Hunger Summit

The inaugural Food Waste & Hunger Summit was held on April 5 & 6 at Northwestern University.  We were proud to have a strong presence representing the LL.M. Program.

LL.M. Alumna Margie Alsbrook presented at the conferencing, discussing the importance of awareness and partnerships in the fight against hunger and the techniques for getting the best outcomes in an awareness campaign. She discussed how awareness is the first step towards true societal change.  She also talked about best practices: if you start with the impact you want to make and the measurements you want to hit (as opposed to looking at the resources you have) then you will get better results.  It was an inspirational message for the many students in the audience -  students who are anxious to make a difference  -   eliminating hunger and food waste.

Margie serves as Director of Operations for Farm Journal Foundation in Columbia, Missouri. She is a graduate of the University of Arkansas School of Law and of the LL.M. Program. She was the inaugural editor in chief of the Journal of Food Law & Policy.

As noted in the blog post, Professor Civita on Legal Issues and Food Recovery, Professor Nicole Civita, Visiting Assistant Professor in the LL.M Program and Director of the Food Recovery Project also addressed the conference, covering legal liability issues. Professor Civita is author of the popular publication, Food Recovery: A Legal Guide.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Celebrating our LL.M. Faculty: Neil Hamilton

We try to post news from our students and alumni, and we report on events in the LL.M. Program. Sometimes the accomplishments of our outstanding faculty do not get the credit they deserve.

Here's an update on Professor Neil Hamilton - one of the central figures in our course of study. He serves as the Dwight D. Opperman Chair of Law and Professor of Law at Drake University Law School and as the Director of the Drake Agricultural Law Center.

Under Professor Hamilton's leadership, Drake became the first American law school to offer a specialization in agricultural law.  The Agricultural Law Center that he founded at Drake has been doing excellent agricultural work for over 30 years.

The University of Arkansas School of Law and the LL.M. Program have been proud to have a longstanding collaboration with Professor Hamilton and the Drake Agricultural Law Center.

Professor Hamilton teaches An Introduction to the Law of Food & Agriculture each Fall in the LL.M. Program and returns in the Spring to teach an advanced class.  In the past, he has taught Agricultural Biotechnology, Agricultural Production Contracting, and Rural Lands and Rural Livelihoods, and this year, he taught his new course on Local and Regional Food Systems, including a unit on the 2014 Farm Bill.

Professor Hamilton is a great friend to the LL.M. Program and a longstanding leader in agricultural and food law. He was one of the founding professors of our Program, teaching during our inaugural class year, over thirty years ago. Throughout his career, he has been recognized for his vision regarding the emerging issues affecting agriculture and sustainability, and he is credited with leading the integration of agricultural and food law studies.  That leadership continues.

We celebrate Professor Hamilton's accomplishments and bring news from Des Moines.

U.S. Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the Drake University Agricultural Law Center on April 22nd to meet with Prof. Neil Hamilton, Director of the Center, to discuss current projects and to reaffirm the historic relation between USDA and Drake University.  Secretary Vilsack was a visiting professor at Drake during the Spring of 2007.  He is pictured here with Prof. Hamilton and other members of the Agricultural Law Center staff, Matt Russell, Jenny Zwagerman (LL.M. Alumna), Poppy Davis (J.D. student who we hope will soon be an LL.M. candidate) and Ed Cox.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Ag & Food Law Employment - Recent Graduate Placement

Obtaining rewarding legal employment has been challenging for some recent law graduates. There is no "magic bullet" or secret to success. We believe, however, that an LL.M. degree in Agricultural & Food Law can be very useful in finding specialized employment and in distinguishing attorneys from those with only a J.D. degree.  

For experienced attorneys, our Program has been a way to enhance specialized skills or to chart a new career path.  Jason Foscolo of Foscolo & Handel PLLC - The Food Law Firm - in New York stated, "I could not do what I do without having completed the LL.M. Program in Agriculture and Food Law. Attending the Program was the best professional choice I have made as an attorney."

Our LL.M. Program is small and specialized by design. In the past, we have enrolled only an average of about 10-12 students a year. No one is guaranteed a job at graduation, and some take a while to find that perfect match. However, the following list evidences the diversity of employment opportunities and highlights the talents of our LL.M. candidates. We are proud of their achievements.

Listed below are some of the positions that are currently held by recent (2011- 2013) LL.M. Students/Alumni. Note that our more experienced alumni are found as partners in their law firms, in high level positions at USDA and other agencies, in agribusiness, in academia and elsewhere.  But, that's another list.  Here, we honor our most recent graduates, with their positions listed in no particular order.

Assistant to the Administrator, USDA Risk Management Agency 
Washington, D.C. 

Counsel, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry 
Washington, D.C.

Associate Attorney, Stoel Rives LLP 
Seattle, WA

Executive Director, Ten Rivers Food Web 
Portland, Oregon

Fellow, Food Law & Policy Clinic, Harvard Law School 
Boston, MA

Senior Advisor and Counsel, US Senator John Walsh 
Washington, D.C.

Staff Attorney, North Carolina General Assembly Research Division
Raleigh, NC 

Corporate Counsel, Tyson Foods, Inc. Legal Department 
Springdale, AR

African Trade Development Specialist, Arkansas World Trade Center 
Rogers, AR

Attorney, Farm and Food Law L.L.C. 
Denver, CO

Associate Attorney, Bassett Law Firm 
Fayetteville, AR

Program Manager, Hunger Initiatives, National Council on Aging 
Washington, D.C.

Associate, DLA Piper 
St. Petersburg, Russia 

Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Arkansas School of Law 
Fayetteville, AR 

Attorney, The Food Law Firm 
Sag Harbor, NY 

Associate Attorney, Adams and Reese 
Jackson, MS 

Senior Counsel, AdvoCare International, LP 
Dallas, TX 

Associate Attorney, Browning, Kaleczyc, Berry, & Hoven P.C 
Helena, Montana

Contract Management Specialist, Philips 
Moscow, Russia 

Director, The Fisheries Law Centre 
Vancouver, B.C 

Associate Attorney, Banks Law Firm PLLC 
Little Rock, AR 

Assistant U.S. Attorney 
Little Rock, AR 

Food Safety Manager, Walmart Home Office 
Bentonville, AR 

Associate Attorney, NC General Assembly Health & Public Assistance Section
Raleigh, NC

Consultant, International Finance Corporation 
San Francisco, CA 

Attorney/Partner, McFarland, Pyle and Stone 
Portland, OR

 Senior Director, Environmental Health & Safety, Real Estate, Walmart Home Office 
Bentonville, AR 

Senior Director of Customs & Industry Compliance, Retail Industry Leaders Assoc. 
Arlington, VA 

Attorney, Lucas County Common Pleas Court 
Toledo, OH 

We would also like to recognize the recent graduates who came to us as law professors. They have returned or moved on to new opportunities, teaching with an enhanced understanding of agricultural and food law, passing this knowledge on to their law students:  

Professor of Law, University of Missouri School of Law 
Columbia, MO 

Visiting Assistant Professor of Law at Vermont Law School
(now visiting at the University of Arkansas School of Law)

Dean, Professor of Law & Director of the Institute of Agricultural & Food Law, 
Yeungnam University 
Gyeongsan, Republic of Korea 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Professor Civita on Legal Issues and Food Recovery

The LL.M. Program continues its valuable and high-profile work to reduce waste, encourage food recovery, and reduce hunger.

Professor Nicole Civita, Visiting Assistant Professor in the LL.M Program and Director of the Food Recovery Project, participated in the inaugural Food Waste & Hunger Summit on April 5 & 6 at Northwestern University.  Professor Civita is author of the popular publication, Food Recovery: A Legal Guide.

Professor Civita presented an hour-long plenary address on the legal aspects of food recovery and fielded many excellent questions about liability protection, preemption, tax incentives, and state-by-state nuances related to regulation of donated food.

The uniformly positive feedback on this session once again demonstrated the value of educating anti-hunger activists and food recovery advocates about the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.

Below is access to Professor Civita’s interactive presentation slides.

The Food Recovery Project is an initiative funded by two generous gifts from the Women's Giving Circle at the University of Arkansas.  Last year, the Women's Giving Circle funded the drafting of Food Recovery: A Legal Guide and its companion article for lawyers, The Legal Guide to the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act  by James Haley (2013 Ark. L. Notes 1448).  This year, they are funding continued work in this area, including the Food Recovery Project blog.

Monday, April 14, 2014

HungerU Exhibit on Global Food Crisis

HungerU, a touring mobile exhibit designed to create awareness about global food issues and the role of agriculture, will be on the University of Arkansas campus Monday and Tuesday to challenge students to consider the world's food needs.

The exhibit will be located between Silas Hunt Hall and the Arkansas Union, and open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. The visit is sponsored by the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.

HungerU's goal is to create awareness of the global food crisis through education, generate discussion and empower students to take action in their communities. The world's population is expected to be more than nine billion by 2050, creating an increased need for sustainable food production and reduced waste.

HungerU was created by Farmers Feeding the World and the Farm Journal Foundation. The LL.M. Program has a special connection because our alumna, Margie Alsbrook now serves as Director of Operations for Farm Journal Foundation in Columbia, Missouri.

Margie is a graduate of the University of Arkansas School of Law and of the LL.M. Program. She was the inaugural editor in chief of the Journal of Food Law & Policy.

Margie has been a leader in food and agricultural law issues for some time, and just last week we posted about her presentation on food recovery at Food Waste and Hunger conference at Northwestern University.

Other colleges to host the exhibit include the University of Arizona, Auburn University, Iowa State University, Fresno State University, the University of California-Berkeley, the University of San Diego, the University of Illinois, Michigan State University and Texas A&M University.

Don Wiseman and Amy White Visit LL.M. Class

We were delighted to welcome two food safety and compliance attorneys from the world's largest retailer, Walmart, to a special class session last Friday. Don Wiseman and Amy White spoke to our class for over an hour, and then we all had lunch together.  Our appreciation is extended to these two busy professionals for taking time out of their schedules to visit with us.

Don Wiseman serves as senior associate general counsel at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. He is the company's principal subject matter legal expert for food safety and regulatory compliance, as well as consumer product safety and compliance.

Don has an extensive background in food law,  from a variety of perspectives.  Prior to joining Walmart, from 2003 through 2007, Don was the senior vice president and general counsel of Swift Foods Co. of Greeley, Colo., the world's third-largest fresh beef and pork processor. From 1991 to 2003, he was the senior vice president and general counsel of Memphis-based Perkins Restaurants, the operator and franchisor of the 500-unit Perkins Restaurant and Bakery chain.

LL.M. Alumna Amy White is the Food Safety and Health Manager for Labeling Compliance at Walmart.  Amy works with internal and external stakeholders to ensure regulatory compliance in food labeling, specifically working with the labeling of private label food items sold at Walmart and Sam's Club.  Her position requires complex regulatory analysis and close work with the companies that supply Walmart. An additional part of her position is monitoring legislation, litigation and policy shifts that affect food labeling.

Amy has a background in Animal Science and attended the LL.M. Program 1999-2000.  Her agricultural and food law career took a successful detour when she founded the popular local clothing store, Something Urban, after completing the LL.M. Program.  Amy ran the store until this past year when she decided it was time for a change.  Her interest in food and her connections with the LL.M. Program over the years led her to apply for a labeling position at Walmart. Her science background, her legal training, and her LL.M. degree all helped her land the position.

Don and Amy also supervise the LL.M. and J.D. externs who work with food labeling and safety issues, providing them with direct application of food law to the retail marketplace. This semester, two externs from the LL.M. Program, Kathryn Smith and Erin Shirl work with them.

During their presentation, Don and Amy answered questions submitted by the class and discussed current issues in food law.

After class, we all walked over to the Northwest Quad buffet dining for lunch and conversation.  Thanks to Don and Amy for coming down from Walmart headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas to visit with our class.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Good Wishes to Our Friend and Alumnus, Vade

Special note regarding one of our alumni -

Students in the class of 2011-2012 had the pleasure of meeting Vade Donaldson. Vade came to the LL.M. Program with a great practice background, including legal services criminal defense work.  He moved here from Seattle for the Program, bringing his wife and two small children. He taught Advanced Legal Writing as an adjunct, creating an excellent criminal law practice class.

Vade's love of agricultural and food law studies was apparent. He was the perfect student to have in the LL.M. class -  engaged and well-prepared, thoughtful and inquisitive, and always, always thinking of his classmate's, student's and professor's interests.

As noted below, Vade has had a very rough year.

But with the perseverance and good attitude that is typical Vade, he has come through it.  Now, it's time for us to come through for him.  Please read the following note from him (which I asked him to write for the blog) and see if you can sponsor him in the upcoming marathon for a very great cause.

I am running a marathon on May 4 to raise awareness and funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).  

I was diagnosed with a rare leukemia last July following a long period of increasing fatigue during which I was increasingly unable to get things done.  Sadly, I was unable to maintain my newly formed agricultural and food law practice.

Fortunately for me and people like me, the LLS funds valuable cancer research. In my case, an entirely synthetic drug was developed 15 years ago to treat my form of leukemia.  I am in complete remission six months following chemotherapy.  I will never be “cancer free”, but if my leukemia returns, I will simply repeat chemotherapy (it’s not that simple or fun, actually).

LLS had a much more direct impact in my life, though.  Cancer, even for the well-insured, is very expensive.  LLS provides direct financial support to patients overwhelmed by the financial demands of fighting their disease.  I was a lucky recipient of one of these grants.  In addition, the LLS is a well-spring of information and knowledge.  The have a vast library of resources for patients and their families.  I can’t understate the value of this.  It means a great deal to have a credible, reliable source when confronting your own diagnosis or researching the disease of a loved one.

My marathon is in Vancouver, BC, on Sunday, May 4.  It’s hard for me to believe it will actually happen.  I lost a lot of weight through the whole process and now weigh less than I did when I was 14. I also lost a considerable amount of strength and was at the point where even running two miles was a struggle.  Today, however, I feel like a new person with energy I haven’t had in years. 

Please visit my fundraising page and consider donating to help support the fight against blood cancer! 


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Food Waste and Hunger Summit

 We will be blogging about this with more details in a couple of days, but as a preview -  our Alumna, Margie Alsbrook and LL.M. Program Visiting Assistant Professor Nicole Civita both presented this weekend at the Food Waste & Hunger Summit at Northwestern University.  Nicole just finishing speaking, and as noted the tweet below, she did a great job.  UA students including student leader Cameron Caja also involved, with Cameron presenting as well.  Twitter has been a big part of the communications at the conference, and thanks to Margie's efforts, our message was widely circulated.  

Retweeted by 
Amazingly helpful session by YOUofA Prof. Civita at - as a I am v impressed!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Another great resource: Food Recovery Project Blog

Check out the news on Food Recovery activities in Northwest Arkansas by following the new blog at We are very proud of the Fayetteville community for working together on food recovery initiatives, and we are proud to play a role through our LL.M. Program Food Recovery Project.

The new blog is written by LL.M candidate Jeremy Baker and Visiting Professor Nicole Civita. Sarah Hiatt will be jumping on board soon as well.

Our efforts in this area are funded by a grant from the Women's Giving Circle.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Alumni News

We continue to receive good news from our Alumni with new position announcements from Blake Rollins (Class on 2013) and  Liz Mashie Gunsaulis (Class of 2012)

Liz Mashie Gunsaulis recently accepted a position as a Food Safety Manager in the compliance department at the Walmart Home Office. In her work she focuses on food and pharmaceutical recalls, food safety compliance in retail and distribution facilities, and sustainability projects such as reducing
food waste at the retail level.

Blake Rollins is pleased to report his new appointment as Counsel for the US
Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry Committee.

Congratulations Liz and Blake!