Sunday, October 01, 2006

New Interim Co-Directors at the National Center for Agricultural Law

Agritourism, biofuels, agriculture and the environment, farm bills - keywords that lead almost any internet search engine to one of the leading sources of agricultural law, the website of the National Agricultural Law Center.

The Center has recently named two new interim directors, Doug O'Brien and Harrison Pittman, who will lead its mission to conduct legal research into the most critical issues facing agriculture and food today - issues such as food borne illnesses, food labeling and corporate farming laws.

"We are proud to have Doug and Harrison step up to become directors of such a prestigious national center during an exciting time for the Law School," said Dean Cyndi Nance, who appointed the two as interim directors for the academic year 2006-07.

For nearly 20 years, the National Agricultural Law Center has provided objective agricultural law research and information to the public. In recent years, they have done so through their widely acclaimed website.

O'Brien and Pittman have been around agriculture their entire lives. O'Brien grew up on an Iowa farm, while Pittman grew up in an agricultural community in eastern Arkansas. Both earned their masters' degrees in agricultural law at the University of Arkansas School of Law.

Doug O'Brien

O'Brien earned his J.D. from the University of Iowa School of Law and his LL.M. in agricultural law from the University of Arkansas School of Law. He clerked for Justice Jerry L. Larson of the Iowa Supreme Court and worked as a legal specialist in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration's National Hog Office. He also served as counsel for the Senate Agriculture Committee in Washington, D.C., where he worked on the 2002 Farm Bill.

O'Brien began his work for the center in 2004 through a special arrangement with The Agricultural Law Center at Drake University School of Law in Des Moines, Iowa. He is employed jointly by the two Centers and teaches at both law schools. His agricultural law research emphasizes livestock marketing, biofuels, the farm bill and cooperative issues.

Harrison Pittman

Pittman hails from Helena, Arkansas. He earned his J.D. from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law and his LL.M. degree in agricultural law from the University of Arkansas School of Law. He has a broad spectrum of research areas, including the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, the National Organic Program, corporate farming laws, pesticide regulation, and market concentration in the livestock industry, and agritourism. He recently led a conference on agritourism sponsored by The Winthrop Rockefeller Center in cooperation with the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

Pittman founded the agricultural law section of the Arkansas Bar Association, and he currently serves on the agriculture committee of the America Bar Association's section on administrative law and regulatory practice.

O'Brien and Pittman replace former director Michael Roberts, who now practices with the Venable Law Firm in Washington, D.C., focusing on food law and policy.


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