Thursday, July 31, 2014

A-dae Romero Receives Champion of Change Award

Vena A-dae Romero, a 2013-14 candidate in the LL.M. Program was honored as a “Champion of Change” on Tuesday, July 29 by the White House and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The “Champions of Change” are 15 leaders from across the country who are doing extraordinary things to build the bench for the next generation of farming and ranching. A-dae completed her final LL.M. requirements this summer and graduates with a Master of Laws degree in August. She is Cochiti Puebloan and Kiowa Indian. She was born in Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico, as a granddaughter of a Pueblo farmer.

While in the LL.M. Program, A-dae served as a Graduate Assistant with the Indigenous Food and Agricultural Initiative. She now consults for First Nations Development Institute, a leading Native American nonprofit whose mission is to strengthen American Indian economies.

As we recently announced, A-dae was awarded a J. William Fulbright Scholarship for the coming year to complete a research study on indigenous food sovereignty in New Zealand. Her study will compare similar colonial experiences between the Maori people of New Zealand and the American Indians in the United States and explore the influence of traditional food systems.

The Champions of Change program featured USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden, who discussed efforts to ensure that beginning farmers and the growing ranks of agriculture — women, young people, immigrants, socially disadvantaged producers, returning veterans and retirees — have access to the programs and support they need. The event included a discussion about how to continue growing and supporting the next generation of America’s farmers and ranchers.

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University of Arkansas Law School Dean Stacy Leeds traveled to D.C. to attend the ceremony with A-dae.  LL.M. colleagues in Washington gathered to congratulate A-dae.

Pictured, left to right:

  • Amy Lowenthal, LL.M. alumna and Assistant Counsel to the Inspector General, USDA; 
  • Richard Flournoy, LL.M. alumnus and Assistant to the Administrator, Risk Management Agency, USDA; 
  • Kelvin Stroud, current part-time LL.M. candidate and Legislative Assistant for Senator Mark Pryor; 
  • Jennifer Fiser, LL.M. alumna and Agricultural Program Specialist, Disaster Assistance Branch, Farm Service Agency, USDA; 
  • A'dae Romero; 
  • School of Law Dean Stacy Leeds; 
  • Steven "Brett" Offutt, LL.M. alumnus and Director of Policy and Litigation Division, GIPSA,USDA; and,
  • Visiting LL.M. Condensed Course Professor David Grahn, Associate General Counsel for International Affairs, Food Assistance, and Farm and Rural Programs in the Office of General Counsel, USDA.

The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals, businesses, and organizations doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. We are delighted to have one of our LL.M.s in the ranks of this honored group. Congratulations, A-dae!  We are proud of your work -

Friday, July 25, 2014

Celebrating our LL.M. Faculty: Visiting Professor Nicole Civita

When Global Campus agreed to support our development of a distance track for the LL.M. Program, the first position that they funded was for course development.  This position was designed to develop distance courses for the LL.M. Program -  some based on our current classes and some new ones.  We were fortunate to have Nicole Civita available, as her skills were perfectly matched to the job. She had just graduated from the LL.M. Program, with stellar performance. She has excellent practice experience with large firms in New York and California, and an impressive academic background (Columbia University, Georgetown Law, Order of the Coif).

Over the last year, she has worked closely with Global Campus, developing a keen sense for the pedagogy of distance learning and applying it to the unique challenges of legal education. She has worked with us to help us begin converting our classes to a style and format that retains its face-to-face component but also will work well for our distance students. It's safe to say that there is a lot more to this than I realized, and the help from Nicole and Global Campus has been greatly appreciated.

In addition, Nicole designed from the ground up two of our most exciting new offerings: Urban Agriculture and Food Justice Law & Policy.

Before she began her distance education duties, Nicole jumped in to take the lead on the Food Recovery Project, funded by the Women's Giving Circle.  She authored Food Recovery:  A Legal Guide, which is now circulating, literally around the country, as businesses try to develop food waste reduction plans that recover food while protecting themselves from legal liability.  She has continued to take the lead on this project, serving as an advisor to the UA student group, Razorback Food Recovery. She was a plenary speaker at the national Food Recovery Network conference in Chicago, and now serves on the advisory board of that association. The Food Recovery Project and Nicole's work on it have extended and enhanced our national reputation, promoting both our face-to-face program and our new distance program.

On urban agriculture, Nicole worked closely with local leaders in evaluating the regulatory framework here in Fayetteville, helping to craft sensible urban agriculture ordinances. She co-authored a chapter on urban agricultural issues for an upcoming ABA book and spoke at an ABA sponsored urban agriculture conference in North Carolina. She will be teaching our first Urban Agriculture class this fall as part of the LL.M. curriculum open to JD enrollment. It was designed with the help of our Global Campus partners and will be presented with a flipped model of instruction.

Nicole’s article for her LL.M. writing requirement, Agrarians Feeding Communities: Reconnecting Federal Farm Policy and Nutrition Assistance For a More Just Agri-food System is about to be published in the Summer 2014 issue of the Northwestern Interdisciplinary Law Review.

All of this while balancing the birth of her second child last October.  .  .

I am pleased to report that Global Campus funded an additional year for Nicole's position, helping us to continue to build our curriculum and enhance the reputation of our Program.  She will be working with us and with each of our adjunct/visiting professors on course design and implementation while also helping us to promote the Program.

We appreciate Nicole's hard work and all that she has brought to the LL.M. Program and the law school.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Leadership Summit for Native Youth in Agriculture

Forty-four high school and college students arrived at the University of Arkansas School of Law this week for the inaugural Summer Leadership Summit: Native Youth in Agriculture. The students, who represent the next generation of Indian Country’s food and agriculture leaders, hail from 13 states from as far away as Oregon and Hawaii, and represent 21 tribes.

The week-long program includes classes, lectures, field trips and hands-on training in 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. Highlights include presentations by Mike Vayda, dean of the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, and Stacy Leeds, dean of the School of Law, and visits to the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market, the Discovery Center Food Processing and Food Development Center at Tyson Foods world headquarters and the Regional Distribution Center of Walmart and Sam’s Club world headquarters.

The summit is sponsored by the School of Law and the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative in partnership with the Intertribal Agriculture Council, FFA (formerly the Future Farmers of America) and the Farm Credit Council. The program is supported by grants from the Farm Credit Council and the Risk Management Agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Kathryn Smith Accepts Position at Walmart

We are pleased to announce that Kathryn Smith, a member of the 2013-14 LL.M. class has accepted the position of Manager of Programs in the Responsible Sourcing Department at Walmart headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Kathryn was a 2011 graduate of the University of Arkansas School of Law. While in law school, Kathryn served as the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Food Law & Policy and received the law school's  Outstanding Contribution to Law School Publications Award for that service.  She holds a Bachelor of Science degree cum laude (Criminal Justice) and a Bachelor of Arts degree with University Honors (Spanish) from the University of Alabama. She is just finishing up her final requirements for the LL.M. degree.

The Responsible Sourcing Department at Walmart serves as the bridge between Walmart’s internal compliance efforts and its global supply chain. Responsible Sourcing sets policy and monitors compliance and remediation activities of suppliers and factories in the global supply chain for areas such as

  • The Environment 
  • Health & Safety 
  • Labor & Employment 

Kathryn's particular job within this department falls under the Supplier Development area. She works with a team to review and evaluate existing programs implemented by the department. These kinds of programs range from training programs for factories to facilitate compliance to social betterment programs, such was the Women in Factories program.  Walmart's Global Responsibility Report for 2014 provides additional information.


Friday, July 4, 2014

Announcing Fall Food & Ag Law Class Line up

In the LL.M. Program in Agricultural and Food Law, we are proud to offer a full curriculum of 12 credits of specialized LL.M. courses each semester.  Beginning this Fall, we will offer a part-time program and a distance degree option to complement our traditional two-semester face-to-face program.

We use technology to bring the classroom experience to our distance students. Synchronous classes are live-streamed, with students participating from their computer or tablet from anywhere with a good internet connection. All of the technology in our classroom is being upgraded this summer  -  watch for future posts.

Condensed courses provide an opportunity for distance students to visit campus to attend several days of intense study of a specific agricultural or food law topic.

Traditional online courses will also be available for remote study beginning Spring 2015.

Our courses are all taught by nationally recognized agricultural and food law professors, and our professors work with the distance education professionals at the University of Arkansas Global Campus on distance course design and implementation.

We have a great incoming class, but are still accepting applications.  Here are the courses we will be offering Fall semester:


Agriculture & the Environment 
2 credit full-semester course
Tuesday and Thursday, 10:00 – 10:50 a.m. 
Agriculture is increasingly criticized for its impact on the environment. This course examines the tensions between the desire to produce food and fiber efficiently and concern for sustainability and the protection of natural resources.  It’s focus is on broad policy themes and current environmental readings.



Food Law & Policy 
2 credit full-semester course
Wednesday and Friday, 10:00 – 10:50 a.m.
The laws that frame our food system have a significant impact on us all. This course provides an overview of regulation by the Food & Drug Administration and the USDA focusing on policy considerations and current issues in the news. 



Food, Farming & Sustainability 
2 credit full-semester course 
Tuesday and Thursday, 11:00 – 11:50 a.m.
This course provides a survey of the complex legal topics that make up the body of agricultural and food law focusing on current issues of significance. Readings are supplemented by presentations from attorneys working in the field. The text for the course will be an updated version of Food, Farming & Sustainability: Readings in Agricultural Law, by the course professor, Susan Schneider.



Specialized Legal Research and Writing 
1 credit full-semester, pass/fail course
Thursday, 1:00 – 1:50 p.m.
This is a course for legal writing skill development, including training in plain-English legal writing, electronic research training, and publication strategies. This course will assist students in planning to meet the LL.M. writing requirement.




Administrative Law & Practice: USDA and FDA 
1 credit flipped model; first half of the semester only
Tuesdays, 1:00 – 1:50
Study of administrative law & practice as applied to the specialized areas of agricultural and food law.  The relevant regulatory agencies are introduced, and the basics of federal rulemaking, adjudication, and judicial review are covered. The course will meet once/week August 26 – October 7, 2014.



Urban Agriculture Law & Policy 
1 credit flipped model; second half of the semester
Tuesdays, 1:00 – 1:50
This course provides a study of the legal issues raised by the rising interest in urban agricultural activities. Topics of study include land use and zoning issues, farmers market issues, and legal issues associated with community-sponsored agriculture. The course will meet once/week October 14, and October 28 – December 2, 2014.




Condensed Courses are one-credit face-to-face classes offered in 2-4 days of intensive instruction. Distance students are encouraged to come to campus, although special arrangements may be available for video-conferencing on a case by case basis.


An Introduction to the Law of Food & Agriculture 
1 credit condensed course
August 18-20, 2014  
This course provides an overview of the legal and policy issues presented by the production of food and fiber, including a discussion of structural changes in agriculture, sustainability issues, and trends in consumer interest.

Federal Farm Programs & Crop Insurance 
1 credit condensed course
October 13-16, 2014
This course provides a survey of the complex network of federal farm programs and federal crop insurance programs that are available to U.S. producers, focusing on the 2014 Farm Bill provisions.

Agricultural Policy & the Federal Budget 
1 credit condensed course; on location only; this course will not be recorded
November 10 – 12, 2014
This course examines the impact of the budget, cost-scoring, and OMB on federal agricultural policy making in Washington, D.C. Current farm policy issues are discussed within the context of budgetary constraints and pressures.