Monday, March 30, 2015

Journal of Food Law & Policy Symposium: The Past, Present & Future of Food Law

On March 20th, the Journal of Food Law & Policy celebrated its 10th anniversary with a symposium featuring some of the most recognized names in food law and policy. Our guests were instrumental in establishing the Journal 10 years ago, and we were honored to celebrate this special occasion with them.

Our speakers included:

Neil Hamilton, Dwight D. Opperman Chair of Law and Professor of Law at Drake Law School. Professor Hamilton also serves as the Director of the Drake Agricultural Law Center.

Peter Barton Hutt, Senior Counsel, Covington & Burling LLP and Instructor of Food & Drug Law at Harvard Law School. Professor Hutt is one of the authors of the leading casebook, Food & Drug Law: Cases and Materials (4th ed., Foundation Press 2013).

Michael T. Roberts, Executive Director, Resnick Program for Food Law & Policy at UCLA Law School and former Research Professor of Law at the University of Arkansas school of Law; and

Susan Schneider, William H. Enfield Professor of Law and Director, LL.M. Program in Agricultural & Food Law.

The conference was presented in the LL.M. Study at the University of Arkansas School of Law and was streamed to a live audience participating via distance. A recording of excerpts from the Symposium will be posted on the Journal of Food Law Policy's website and announced when on this blog when it becomes available.

The Journal of Food Law & Policy is the only student-edited legal journal in the country devoted to the study of food law and its impact on society. It’s first issue was published in July 2005, leading the legal academy in this emerging area of law. The LL.M. Program in Agricultural & Food Law was proud to co-sponsor this conference, showcasing our state-of-the-art distance technology. Our thanks to all of our speakers and to our participants for this wonderful event, and congratulations to the Journal.

Special Class with LL.M. Alum Brandon Willis, Head of USDA Risk Management Agency

Brandon Willis, Administrator of the Risk Management Agency (RMA) at the USDA made a special visit to the LL.M. Program on Friday, March 20th as a part of his visit to the University of Arkansas campus.

Brandon addressed the class during a special session to discuss risk management strategies, current issues affecting federal crop insurance, and his goals in leading RMA. He also offered the LL.M. class some helpful advice on searching for a job in D.C. and selecting a successful career path. Brandon credited his LL.M. studies as getting him started in his agricultural law career.

After Brandon completed his coursework in the LL.M. Program, he went directly to Washington, D.C. to serve as the Agriculture Legislative Assistant for U.S. Senator Max Baucus. He drafted floor statements on agricultural issues and worked closely on legislation, including the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, with a particular focus on the livestock disaster programs. He also drafted legislation that supported the use of existing conservation programs to help fight the declining population of bees and other pollinators.

Brandon then served as Deputy Administrator of Farm Programs for USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA).  In that position, he oversaw all FSA programs under the Production Emergencies and Compliance Division (PECD), Conservation and Environmental Programs Division (CEPD), and Price Support Division (PSD).

Just prior to accepting the position at RMA, Brandon served as Senior Advisor to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Title I commodity programs, farm legislation matters and disaster assistance.

While in the LL.M. Program, Brandon served as a Graduate Assistant for the National Agricultural Law Center during the time that it was affiliated with the law school.  He earned his bachelor's degree in crop and soil science from Utah State University in Logan, Utah, and his law degree from the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyo., and his LL.M. degree in Agricultural Law from the University of Arkansas School of Law.  Brandon grew up on a third generation sheep ranch in northern Utah and managed his family's raspberry farm, Bursting Berries.

Brandon's visit to Northwest Arkansas was at the invitation of the National Agricultural Law Center, part of the Division of Agriculture. He delivered a public address on campus and met with leaders from the Arkansas agriculture community.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

LL.M. Alumnus Wes Ward Appointed Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture

We are proud to announce that LL.M. Alumnus Wesley Ward of Lake City, Arkansas has just become Arkansas' third Secretary of Agriculture.

Wes was recommended by Governor Asa Hutchinson on March 13 and on Friday, the Arkansas Agriculture Board voted to appoint him to the position.  He will be sworn into office soon. He will replace Butch Calhoun of Des Arc, who left the position in December. Arkansas's Agriculture Department was created in 2005 and has more than 530 employees. It includes the state Plant Board, the Forestry Commission, the Livestock and Poultry Commission, the Aquaculture Division and the land surveyor, as well as programs that benefit agriculture, such as dairy stabilization, farmers markets, and other promotion and marketing programs.

Wes serves as a captain in the Marine Corps Reserve. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps after high school and spent four years on active duty. He then joined the Marine Corps Reserve and attended Arkansas State University, where he received his B.S. degree in agricultural finance, magna cum laude. He received his law degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law and then served as Battalion Judge Advocate in the U.S., Marine Corps. He was deployed to Afghanistan and to Jordan. He returned to the University of Arkansas to earn his LL.M. degree in Agricultural & Food Law, taking a number of courses in the Masters in Agricultural Economics Program at the Bumpers College of Agriculture. While in the LL.M. Program Wes served as an adjunct professor at the law school.

Wes grew up in Northeastern Arkansas and worked for U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., in 2013 as a field coordinator doing agricultural outreach. He has already spent time talking with the agriculture department's current staff, university contacts and agriculture industry groups.

Wes is quoted in Arkansas Online - "I promise you [that] you won't find find anyone that's going to work any harder for the state and for all our agricultural interests throughout the state."  He noted that his long term goals included seeing the department do more to help create agriculture-related jobs and to work with veterans interested in becoming farmers. We have already talked to Wes about finding ways that the LL.M. Program can support and assist him in his new role.

Congratulations, Wes.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Indigenous Food & Agricuture Initiative Hosts 2nd Annual Native Youth Leadership Summit

Last year, the Indigenous Food & Agriculture Initiative hosted its inaugural Native Youth in Food and Agriculture Leadership Summit. We are pleased to report that the Initiative just announced that applications are now open for the 2nd year.

The Indigenous Food & Agriculture Initiative operates under the direction of Visiting Assistant Professor of Law Janie Hipp. An alumna of the LL.M. Program, Janie also teaches a course in Indigenous Food & Agriculture for the Program, alongside Initiative Staff Attorney, Erin Shirl.

To learn more, check out the recent post describing the event on the IFAI blog.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Visiting Professor Neil Hamilton: Remarks on Des Moines Water Works Proposed Litigation

Another issue that connects agricultural law, environmental law and our food system.

As many have read in the news, the Des Moines Water Works recently started the requisite process to initiate a lawsuit against 3 Iowa counties over nitrate contamination of the city water source. See, e.g., Water Works Votes to Sue 3 Counties Over Nitrates.  The Water Works is currently spending $4,000 a day to treat the contaminated water. The water has been found to be 6 times higher than the federal limit for nitrate contamination.

This proposed case raises a variety of novel legal questions and brings the issue of nitrate contamination in Iowa, the vast majority of which comes from farming sources, to center stage.

Professor Neil Hamilton, one of our visiting professors in the LL.M. Program, was asked to speak to the Iowa Water Conference this week, and I am providing his remarks to our LL.M. students for discussion in their classes. This issue provides an example of the many ways that an integrated study of agricultural and food law is necessary.

Professor Hamilton also allowed me to post his remarks on the Agricultural Law blog that I write for. The Agricultural Law blog is a member of the Jurisdynamics Network of blogs and is the official blog of the American Association of Law School's Agricultural and Food Law Section.

For anyone interested in this issue, here is a link to the post, Sixteen Things to Know About the Des Moines Water Works Proposed Lawsuit.