Monday, March 30, 2015

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.

No comments: