Thursday, May 15, 2014

LL.M. Candidate Lands California Sea Grant Fellowship

We are excited to announce that  Lauren Bernadett, an LL.M. candidate, will be working as a 2014-2015 California Sea Grant Fellow with the California State Lands Commission (CSLC) in Sacramento.

California Sea Grant is one of the state-versions of the national Sea Grant Program.  Every year, California Sea Grant picks a group of fellows through a competitive interview process.  Through another interview and ranking process, fellows are then matched with state agencies in California that engage in coastal and marine resources work.  California Sea Grant typically hires Masters or Ph.D. students with science backgrounds, but Lauren saw the program’s potential to provide a great opportunity for her to work with State attorneys and an outlet to continue her focus on coastal, fisheries, and aquaculture law and policy.  She knew that the CSLC would provide the ideal fellowship experience because of its important legal and management work with the California ocean.

The CSLC has jurisdiction over granted school lands and sovereign lands.  Sovereign lands are the lands underlying California’s navigable waters, including tide and submerged lands from the mean high tide line to three nautical miles offshore.  The CSLC holds sovereign lands for the benefit of the people of California, subject to the Public Trust Doctrine.  As part of its work, the CSLC determines whether proposed uses of sovereign lands are consistent with the Public Trust Doctrine and carry out environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Lauren has already taken on a lot of responsibility at the CSLC in the realm of coastal law and policy.  She is working on multiple projects related to sea level rise and its effects on existing and future coastal development and uses in California.  Her other projects relate to seawalls, reef enhancement, and oil and gas leases.  She has been working with staff attorneys on CEQA matters and statutory interpretation issues.  She will deliver a presentation on shellfish aquaculture leasing and permitting in California at the Headwaters to Ocean Conference in San Diego at the end of May.  As the CSLC works on many different types of issues, Lauren knows that she will have the chance to work on a diverse range of projects during her fellowship.  Overall, she thinks that the fellowship will be a very valuable experience and an important component of her ideal legal career.

We wish Lauren the best of luck with this next step!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

First Food Law Conference at UCLA Law a Huge Success

A segment of the conference program's cover page.
Last month, UCLA Law’s Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy hosted its first conference: Food Fight: An Examination of Recent Trends in Food Litigation and Where We Go From HereProfessor Michael Roberts, an alumnus and previously a professor at the LL.M. Program, is the Executive Director of the Resnick Program and did a fantastic job hosting the conference.  One of our current LL.M. candidates who is an alumna of UCLA Law and Professor Roberts’ past student, Lauren Bernadett, had the privilege of attending the conference.

The conference was a full day of learning about food law from some of the most preeminent food law attorneys in the country.  The Dean of UCLA Law welcomed the attendees and moved right into the first panel, which addressed food labeling litigation in the “Food Court.”  The panel included Katie O’Sullivan, a partner at Perkins Coie; Steve Gardner, the Director of Litigation at Center for Science in the Public Interest; and Samuel Wiseman, a professor at Florida State University College of Law.  In the panel presentations and the question and answer session following the panel, the speakers discussed the social utility of food litigation and noted that some courts, including the Ninth Circuit, still see food labeling litigation as trivial.

The second panel discussed recent trends in food litigation including case law, legal theories, and settlements.  The panelists were Michael Reese, a named partner of Reese Richman LLP; Diana Winters, a professor at Indiana University School of Law; and Dean Panos, a partner in the Chicago office of Jenner & Block.  This panel addressed the importance of unfair competition laws and the increasing scrutiny of the class representative.

During lunch, Paul Miller, the president of the Australian Olive Association, gave a captivating talk on the process of making olive oil and the threats posed to the olive oil industry by product adulteration.

The afternoon started with an invigorating panel that analyzed recent federal and state legislation that will affect food litigation in upcoming years.  This panel addressed many fascinating topics including the POM Wonderful case, the Food Safety Modernization Act, the possible success of food addiction litigation, trans fat, the Humane Society’s temporary alliance with the United Egg Producers, and Vermont’s GMO-labeling law.  The panel included Dennis Stearns, a professor at Seattle University School of Law and founding partner at the Marler Clark Firm; Bruce Silverglade, a principal of Olsson, Frank, Weeda, Terman, Matz PC; Michele Simon, the president of Eat Drink Politics; and Neal Fortin, a professor from Michigan State University College of Law.

The last panel explored litigation as a tool for reforming the food system.  The panelists discussed examples of cases that address the negative implications of the food system in the United States, including environmental degradation and compromised food safety.  The panelists addressed the use of antibiotics in raising livestock, the FDA’s voluntary guidance on antibiotics, concentrated animal feeding operations, and the fragmented food regulatory system.  The panelists were Robert Bodzin, a partner at Burnham Brown and the chair of the State Bar’s Litigation Section; Leslie Brueckner, a senior food safety and health attorney with Public Justice; and Avinash Kar, a staff attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council who works on food issues.

The conference was well attended by law students from multiple law schools and attorneys from large firms, small firms, academia, and the public/non-profit sector. 

Overall, the conference was a huge success.  It was especially impressive considering that it was the first conference hosted by the Resnick Program, which is still in its first year.  Congratulations, Professor Roberts, on a fantastic first conference – we can’t wait to hear about the next one!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Celebrating our LL.M. Faculty: Christopher Kelley

Christopher Kelley is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville, teaching in both the LL.M. Program and the J.D. Program.  His agricultural law expertise is well grounded in his representation of farmers through firms in Georgia, Arkansas, Minnesota, and Washington, D.C.  Prior to his position at the University of Arkansas, Professor Kelley taught agricultural law courses at William Mitchell College of Law, North Dakota University School of Law School, South Dakota University Law School, and Drake University Law School.  He has published numerous articles on agricultural law subjects and two comprehensive lawyer's guides on payment limitations and administrative appeals.

Professor Kelley regularly teaches Agriculture & the Environment and will supervise the development of our expanded environmental law curriculum. He also regularly teaches Regulated Markets in Agriculture and Specialized Legal Research and Writing. This Spring he taught our new course, Selected Issues in International Agricultural and Food Law.  And, he is developing another new course for Fall 2014, Administrative Process and Practice in Agricultural & Food Law.

As additional evidence of the breadth of his agricultural law expertise, over the years, he has also taught Cooperative Law, Regulation of Agriculture, Agricultural Perspectives and specialized courses on the farm programs and the Packers & Stockyards Act.  He is a former recipient of the Distinguished Service Award of the American Agricultural Law Association.

In the law school's J.D. program, Professor Kelley's teaches Administrative Law, Transnational Negotiation, International Commercial Arbitration, Law and Development (with Professor Uche Ewleuka), and a Rule of Law Colloquium.  These courses are also available to interested LL.M. candidates.

In recent years, Professor Kelley has developed extensive international law expertise and experience. He serves as a board member for the Fulbright Alumni Association and his international law work was recently featured in the association's magazine, The Fulbright Edge.  An excerpt is as follows:
Professor Kelley was a Fulbright Scholar in Kharkiv, Ukraine, in 2005 and in Chisinau, Moldova, in 2011. He continues to teach at universities in Ukraine and Moldova through interactive digital video conferencing and in person. He also has taught and continues to teach in Belarus and Lithuania and has taught in Kazakhstan and Russia. He is a part-time Professor at Kyiv Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv and a consultant to the Inyurpolis Law Firm in Kharkiv. 
Professor Kelley has taken University of Arkansas law students to Moldova, Ukraine, and Belarus. He was the first American law professor to teach at the Belarusian State University Law Faculty and his Transnational Negotiation students were the first American law students to participate in a course at the BSU Law Faculty. 
Currently the Chair of the Public International Law I Division of the American Bar Association Section of International Law, Professor Kelley previously served three terms as the Co- Chair of the Section’s Russia/ Eurasia Committee. He is now a Senior Adviser to the Russia/Eurasia Committee. He also has served as Vice-Chair of the Section’s Committee on International Legal Education and Specialist Certification. He was a delegate on the Section’s International Legal Exchange (ILEX) briefing trips to Poland, Jordan, Lebanon, Australia, and New Zealand. He participated in the World Justice Project’s World Justice Forums I and II in Vienna and the World justice Forum IV in The Hague. Recently, he was appointed to an ad hoc Section Committee to advise the American Bar Association’s President on ongoing developments in Ukraine. 
Professor Kelley is a member of the editorial boards of the Baltic Journal of Law and Politics published by Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania, and Law and Civil Society published by Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ukraine. He was on the Board of Directors of the Fulbright Academy. He also is a member of the International Bar Association.
As we post this, Professor Kelley just arrived for a week of teaching in Moldova. He returns on Friday so that he can participate in our graduation ceremonies for this year's LL.M. class.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Summer Leadership Summit: Native Youth in Agriculture-Apply Now

The Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas School of Law will host a program for Native American youth in the summer of 2014. The Summer Leadership Summit: Native Youth in Agriculture will welcome at least 50 high school and college students to campus for a week of classes on risk management, finance and business, legal issues and marketing.

University of Arkansas professors, professionals in the food and agriculture sector and tribal leaders will teach the courses. Students from each of the Bureau of Indian Affairs regions will attend. Application materials and program descriptions will be available soon on the program’s website.

“This is an outstanding example of interdisciplinary work at the University of Arkansas,” said Sharon Gaber, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “Our faculty will use their considerable expertise to help build a sustainable food and agriculture sector.”

The Intertribal Agriculture Council, FFA (formerly the Future Farmers of America), and the Farm Credit Council are partnering with the School of Law on the program, which is supported by a grant from the Risk Management Agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“The Leadership Institute Program will provide a pipeline of support for building the next generation of tribal food and agriculture leaders,” said Janie Hipp, director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative.

“This long-needed program will expose youth to the role governments play in American Indian agriculture,” said Ross Racine, executive director of the Intertribal Agriculture Council. “The program will provide a foundation from which each attendee can build an informed educational foundation and the program will provide a financial record-keeping foundation which will be beneficial for each attendee no matter what future career they choose to pursue.”

“Farm Credit is proud to be a partner in the development of leadership and financial skills among Native American young and beginning farmers,” said Gary Matteson, vice president of the Farm Credit Council’s Young, Beginning, Small Farmer Programs and Outreach. “The future is bright for agriculture on tribal lands, and Farm Credit expects this program will be participants’ first step in achieving long-term farm business success.”

“We are committed to diversity as we continue to build today’s FFA into a more empowered and inclusive organization,” said Dwight Armstrong, chief executive officer of the National FFA Organization. “This grant will provide funding for Native American FFA members and others to participate in a risk management and leadership development conference next summer. We are grateful for this opportunity and pleased to be a part of this project.”

For more information, or to support the Leadership Program, please contact Janie Hipp at or visit the Summit webpage.

NOTE:  Janie is a graduate of the LL.M. Program - and it's great to have her back with us, providing leadership on Native agricultural and food law issues.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Legal Assistance for Military Veterans in Farming

Jason Foscolo is a former Judge Advocate, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, and the founding partner of The Food Law Firm in New York. He and his partner, Lauren Handel are alumni of the LL.M. Program.

Jason also serves as general counsel to the Farmer Veteran Coalition and notes that the firm "is committed to the successful transition of military veterans into the agriculture industry, and . . . very proud to support the superb work of the Farmer Veteran Coalition." This is cross-posted from The Food Law Firm blog, Legal Assistance for Military Veterans in Farming.
Farming and food production can involve a variety of complicated legal transactions. Professional advice is essential at innumerable points during a farmer’s career. The Farmer Veteran Coalition now has a resource for farmer-veterans who have questions about contracts, product liability, labeling law, trademarks, or any other issue they may face. In cooperation with our firm, The Farmer Veteran Coalition can now offer a range of free legal services to military veterans who have previously registered with the Coalition. 
If you are a military veteran with legal questions about your farm business, you can contact, or you can contact Foscolo & Handel PLLC directly at (888) 908 – 4959 or at
Jason also puts the call out to attorneys:
The Coalition supports the efforts of farmer-veterans across the country. If you are a fellow attorney willing to provide pro bono services to veterans in your jurisdiction, send an email to and introduce yourself!  We can refer veterans to you as the need for local counsel arises.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Lauren Handel & Nicole Civita Speak About Urban Agriculture Law & Policy at ABA CLE Program

As city dwellers around the country have become increasingly interested - and directly involved -  in how their food is produced, state & local governments and attorneys must create policies that harmoniously facilitate agricultural activity in urban settings. Recognizing that lawyers need models, resources and education on the ways in which urban agriculture intersects with the law, the ABA Section of State & Local Government Law recently convened a session on Legal Pickles, Planning Tools, and Case Studies in Urban Ag. The LL.M. program supplied two of the four panelists for this session: LL.M. alumnae Lauren Handel, a partner at Foscolo & Handel PLLC, and Nicole Civita, a Visiting Assistant Professor in our own program and a member of Fayetteville’s Local Food Policy Working Group.

Professor Civita began the session by offering a concise history of urban cultivation in the United States and an overview of various policy and planning tools that can be used to mindfully encourage cultivation of produce and humane, responsible husbandry of small livestock within city limits. Professor Civita the contextualized the current interest in entrepreneurial urban agriculture and distinguished it from historical community gardening initiatives. She encouraged local leaders to devise scale-appropriate, character-sensitive policies that enable long-term investment in diverse forms of urban food production. She also emphasized the importance of auditing a region’s food policies and assessing its food system before enacting new laws and allowing the policy development process to be guided by the needs of the community.

Lauren Handel provided an well organized overview of "Right to Farm" laws, which shield farmers in all 50 states from nuisance liability under statutorily-set circumstances. She also offered a forward-looking assessment of the ways in which such laws might be used to facilitate or thwart urban agriculture. Lauren noted that because right to farm laws were not intended to apply to urban agriculture the can be a poor fit for this emerging type of farming. In many states, these laws will not provide urban farmers with the nuisance immunity afforded to traditional, rurally sited farms, which raises concerns about fairness and may serve as a deterrent to urban farming. Other states' laws could be construed to apply to urban farms, but they will be difficult to apply to relatively new, diverse and evolving urban farming practices. Moreover, to the extent that right to farm laws apply in cities and preempt local laws, they can serve as a significant disincentive to the official promotion of urban agriculture.

Nicole & Lauren were joined on the panel by Kami Pothukuchi, an Associate Professor of Urban Studies & Planning at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan and Gordon Smith, a councilman for the city of Asheville, North Carolina (where the conference was held), both of whom are visionary advocates for urban agriculture. Professor Pothukuchi & Councilman Smith offered concrete examples of how urban agriculture has been boldly supported at the municipal level in Detroit and Asheville. Professor Civita added another real-world perspective by speaking about her work on the City of Fayetteville’s newly enacted urban agriculture ordinance.

This CLE program offered tips on how to help urban farmers secure access to growing spaces, how to facilitate in-neighborhood marketing of city-raised food products, how keep manage chickens and goats in a metropolis, and how to regulate urban beekeeping. The organizer and moderator of the panel, Sorell Negro, reports that the presentations generated significant buzz among the attendees at the section meeting several of whom have indicated that they will be applying some of the strategies suggested in their own communities.

The positive feedback on this CLE program demonstrates that there is a wide audience for the forthcoming ABA-published book on Urban Agricultural law that features the chapters written not only by Lauren and Nicole, but by several other graduates and faculty of our LL.M. program, including Jason Foscolo, Andy Frame, Sara Albert, Lauren Bernadett and Susan Schneider.