Tuesday, November 24, 2015

David Grahn Returns to Teach Popular Course in Policy & the Federal Budget

Last week, we were delighted to once again welcome our good friend and colleague, David Grahn, teaching his fast-paced condensed course in how federal budget rules impact the development of agricultural and food policy. This course has become one of our most popular, and it gives us all a window into the world of Washington policy making.

 David serves at the USDA Office of General Counsel as Associate General Counsel for International Affairs, Food Assistance, and Farm and Rural Programs.  He represents the interests of a wide range of USDA entities: Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency / Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, Rural Development Agency, Rural Business Service, Rural Utilities Service, Foreign Agricultural Service, the Food and Nutrition Service, and the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

David spent Monday, Tuesday, and part of Wednesday with our LL.M. class explaining complex aspects of policy development, from the crafting of federal law to its implementation by the federal agencies.  Much of the class was devoted to understanding how the federal budget drives policy development and how administrative law can be used strategically to affect policy outcomes.  It was a practical, real-world look at how agencies work, how political goals can best be met, and how money works in Washington.

David is known for his energetic and effective teaching style, and he engages with the class throughout the course, building complexity point by point. As one student noted, "It is truly an amazing opportunity to take this course."

As always, David offered support for our efforts in the LL.M. Program.  His contribution to our Program is invaluable. We are grateful for his support, and our candidates are delighted with the opportunity to learn from him. We were pleased to have two of our distance candidates come to Fayetteville to earn this credit face-to-face, and it was fun to have them with us in person.

A special note that is a testimony to David's professionalism -  in order to avoid any possible conflict of interest or funding issue, David volunteers his time to the Program.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tax Deduction for Food Donation Guide Published

We are pleased to announce the publication of another important guide to encourage businesses to donate food to those in need.

Federal Enhanced Tax Deduction for Food Donation: A Legal Guide was published in a coordinated effort by the Harvard Food Law & Policy Clinic and the Food Recovery Project at the University of Arkansas School of Law.

An estimated 40 percent of food produced in the United States goes uneaten. American consumers waste 160 billion pounds of food each year; food is also wasted on farms and in stores, schools, and restaurants.  At the same time, almost 15 percent of U.S. households are food insecure at some point during the year.  Diverting a fraction of the wholesome food that currently goes to waste in this country could effectively end food insecurity for all Americans.  Farms and food businesses can play a key role by donating more food to organizations that serve those in need.

The federal government has recognized the importance of food donation and provides tax deductions to incentivize businesses to donate food.  Under current federal law, businesses that donate property, including food, may claim a general tax deduction in the amount of the property’s basis.  One type of business, C corporations, may claim an enhanced tax deduction that exceeds the property’s basis for donating certain property, including food.

Those businesses eligible for the enhanced tax deduction must meet certain requirements to receive the enhanced deduction that are not necessary to receive the general tax deduction. To help food donors access this valuable tax incentive the Harvard Food Law & Policy Clinic and the Food Recovery Project at the University of Arkansas School of Law developed a plain-language legal guide, Federal Enhanced Tax Deduction for Food Donation.  This document first provides an overview of federal tax deductions available for businesses that donate food, and then explains the additional requirements that C corporations must meet to receive the enhanced tax deduction.

The Food Law & Policy Clinic's blog provides additional information about the release of this important new publication and references the ongoing work of the clinic. See, FLPC, in partnership with the Food Recovery Project, Launches Legal Guide on the Federal Enhanced Tax Deduction for Food Donations.

This is the third in a series of important legal guides on food waste published by the Food Recovery Project and Harvard's Food Law & Policy Clinic.  The Food Recovery Project at Arkansas published Food Recovery: A Legal Guide that was referenced recently on an episode of John Oliver's show Last Week Tonight.  The Food Law & Policy Clinic published the The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America with NRDC, a publication that de-mystified the confusing issue of food product dating - emphasizing that dates do not reflect a food safety concern and actually encourage food waste.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Spring Classes and New Opportunities for Distance Education

In the LL.M. Program, we are continuing our work to expand our curriculum to cover the wide range of new and emerging issues of interest. Spring Semester 2016, we will offer several new classes as well as enhanced versions of some of our prior courses.  The full listing of courses is now posted on the side bar to the right of this post.

We are pleased to welcome a limited number of non-degree students to our classes next semester. Students who are enrolled in a J.D program or a related graduate program or professionals interested in food and agricultural law issues are welcome to apply for enrollment in a specific course.  Space is limited, as our LL.M. candidates remain our top priority and our focus.

For more information, we have developed a flyer that lists the courses available, details regarding the type and format of each course and the cost.  This flyer, 2016 Spring Semester LL.M. Course Offerings Open to J.D. Students is available for download.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Celebrate International Education Week

International Education Week is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. This joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education is part of the efforts to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the United States. To learn more about IEW, visit the Department of State website.

SATURDAY: November 14th

National Unity Day -- Russia, 12:00 noon - Fulbright Peace Fountain by Old Main. The Russia-Eurasia Student Organization wants to celebrate the National Unity Day by inviting the University of Arkansas community to play a quest game dedicated to the events that rallied Russian people and led to the Romanov dynasty to take the throne. Food will be served at the close of the game. Sponsor: Associated Student Government and the Russia-Eurasia Student Organization. Contact - Rustem Galiullin; grustem@email.uark.edu

International Education Week Lunch Specials – 11 am – 2pm , Ella’s Restaurant at the Inn at Carnell Hall on UA Campus, Lunch specials will be available for lunch at Ella’s Restaurant, with a different country represented each day. Monday China, Tuesday Brazil, Wednesday Bolivia, Thursday Panama, Friday India

MONDAY: November 16th

The Role of International Education in Peacebuilding, 8:00am - 10:00am, Holcombe Hall Classroom, Through international education, students become more effective communicators, more engaged citizens, and learn to think critically about the relationships between local and global issues. These skills are all vital to building peace in a world full of conflict. To celebrate this capacity of international education during International Education Week, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the United States Institute of Peace, and the Alliance for Peacebuilding invite you to a free panel discussion on the role of international education in peacebuilding. Experts in conflict resolution and peacebuilding will: 
  • Provide a high-level overview of the ways in which international engagement and global learning can help mitigate conflict and empower individuals to become peacebuilders
  • Share key strategies and approaches available to educators to engage students in peacebuilding both locally and globally 
  • Examine the role of global learning in the peacebuilding process. Contact - Michael Freeman: mfreeman@uark.edu

International Dress Day & Photo, all day, Group Photo after Opening session 11 a.m.. International Connections Lounge in the Arkansas Union, Wear a hat, tee shirt, scarf, traditional outfit from where you are from of have visited. A group Photo will be following the IEW Opening remarks.

Opening session and International Bazaar, 11:00am – 2:00pm, International Connection Lounge in the Arkansas Union, Kim Needy, Dean of Graduate School and International Education will open the University of Arkansas' International Education Week followed by a group picture of the University of Arkansas community in traditional dress. International Bazaar will contribute to inclusion and diversity on campus though cultural table presentations and performances by international students. Sponsor: International Students Organization (ISO) Contact – Layseen Chen Torres: lachento@uark.edu

Study Abroad Photo Contest Display, 11:00am – 2:00pm, International Connections Lounge, Winners of the 2015 Study Abroad Photo Contest will be announced and displayed during the International Bazaar. Sponsor: Office of Study Abroad and International Exchange, Contact – Brian Poepsel: bpoepse@uark.edu

Theatre and Diplomacy, 5:30pm, Giffels Auditorium, A presentation by Syrian playwright and diplomat Riad Ismat. This is an event raising awareness of the need of defending academic freedom worldwide and creating support networks of international solidarity. Sponsor: UA Scholars at Risk Committee, Arts and Sciences Area Studies, Theatre, English, Diversity Affairs, Contact – Luis Restrepo: lrestr@uark.edu
For a full listing of events throughout the week, visit the International Students & Scholars website

Friday, November 6, 2015

UCLA Resnick Program Issues New Report on Food Equity and Law Schools: Our Program Highlighted

The Resnick Program for Food Law & Policy at UCLA School of Law recently released an excellent report, Food Equity, Social Justice, and the Role of Law Schools:  A Call to Action, researched and written by Kim Kessler and Emily Chen. The Report was written as part of the University of California’s Global Food Initiative. This system-wide initiative "challenges campuses to develop solutions for one of the most pressing issues of our time: the 'quest to establish global food security and address related challenges of nutrition and sustainability.'" LL.M. Alumnus, Michael T. Roberts serves as the Director of the Resnick Program.

The report articulates the need for law schools to "more visibly and holistically address this pressing societal challenge," and it considers how law schools across the nation are currently addressing the "social, economic, and environmental injustice in our current food system." It highlights the ongoing work within the California system.  It then provides a compelling impetus for law schools to do more to confront the inequities within our food system and to integrate more food policy and food justice into the law school curriculum. We applaud the Resnick Center for putting out this "call to action."

Several law schools receive special recognition in the Report with a case study describing the school's work in this area. We are proud to be the first school acknowledged, and the Report notes that
In the field of food law and policy, the University of Arkansas School of Law has been foundational. For decades, the law school has been at the cutting edge of food and agricultural law and scholarship. 
Both the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative and the Food Recovery Project were referenced as examples of our outreach and national recognition. Our overall integrated and interdisciplinary approach is recognized, as we attempt to merge issues of sustainability, food security, food system resilience, and social justice throughout our curriculum.

Four of our classes "from [our] extensive curriculum" are highlighted as excellent examples of work in promoting food equity:
  • Food Justice: Law & Policy (course created and taught by Nicole Civita);  
  • The Right to Food (course created and taught by Uche Ewelukwa); 
  • Business, Human Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility in the Food/Ag Sector (course created and taught by Uche Ewelukwa); and 
  • Legal Issues in Indigenous Food & Agriculture (course created and taught by Janie Hipp and Erin Shirl).
We are in excellent company. Beyond the opportunities presented within the University of California system, several other schools that received case study recognition:
  • The Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University School of Law "has made food law and policy one of its central focuses, with projects at all levels of government;"
  • Harvard Law School is recognized as home to the "first Food Law and Policy Clinic in the Nation;"
  • The University of Michigan Law School’s Community and Economic Development Clinic, has been "working to create the legal backbone of the 'good food economy'" in Detroit; 
  • New York University School of Law's International Human Rights Clinic of the Center for Human Right and Global Justice has undertaken "numerous research and advocacy projects that focused on food and agricultural policies and on the right to food;" and,
  • An independent food justice project conducted through a Local Government class at Stanford Law School resulted in a new law in the state of California, Assembly Bill 551—the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones Act.
The Report concludes that a lack of awareness of food equity issues and research constraints are two of the main challenges deterring law schools from additional work in this area.  It then presents a series of thoughtful recommendations going forward.
Foundational to any recommendations for mobilizing law schools to address food equity issues is the importance of developing a shared understanding of: (1) the effects of our current food system on the health and economic mobility of disadvantaged communities throughout the food chain— from production to distribution (farm to fork), and (2) the resulting social and legal issues lawyers and law schools are in a unique position to address, and which can provide essential skills training for law students. 
The report encourages schools to frame engagement in food equity issues as both an opportunity for students to engage in experiential learning and to recognize their law degree “as an empowering degree—how to use law in a rule of law society”. [citation omitted] It suggests that schools leverage existing classes, clinics, and experiential programs to capture the potential overlap with food equity and to innovate in the formation of partnerships. Practical suggestions, with best practices and implementation strategies are provided.

We hope that the Resnick Program's Call to Action will be heard far and wide. There is rewarding and challenging work to be done in this critical area.