Sunday, January 19, 2014

Report from the AALS Agricultural & Food Law Session, New York

Melissa Mortazavi, Visiting Assistant Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School kindly agreed to serve as reporter for the educational session of the Agricultural & Food Law Section of the Association of American Law Schools (AALA) Annual Meeting in New York City, January 2-5.  This post is based substantially on her report republished from the Food Law Professors blog.

We had excellent attendance at the section session, despite extremely difficult weather conditions. The panel spoke on teaching food law & policy and integrating food law into law schools' curricula.

Unfortunately, section chair and panel organized, Professor Neil Hamilton, the Dwight D. Opperman Chair of Law and the Director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University Law School and panel member Professor Jay Mitchell, the Director of the Organizations and Transactions Clinic at Stanford Law School were both unable to attend due to the weather conditions.

Panel members who presented were Susan A. Schneider (Director, LL.M. Program in Agricultural & Food Law, University of Arkansas School of Law), Michael Roberts (Executive Director, Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy, UCLA School of Law), and Alli Condra (Fellow, Food Law and Policy Clinic, Harvard Law School).

Initially, the discussion focused on how each of these programs approaches teaching food law and policy, predominately with a focus on connecting laws governing food production with sustainability and public health concerns. Also flagged was the need for more intensive scholarly work regarding the legal framework of food regulation domestically, the racial and socio-economic impacts of food law, and the implications of food and food systems in the context of laws regulating international trade and export.

One consistent thread emerged: food is everything-- meaning every kind of law, in all types of practice-- and the opportunities to explore food law and policy in the law school setting are varied and compelling. Some schools have taken on helping small food related business through providing practical how-to publications or support through their transactional legal services clinics. Some professors teach food law through courses like administrative law where they draw heavily on food related case law and regulations. Others are engaging with international food law through direct services; at Wake Forest, Barbara Lentz led a team of students this month to Nicaragua to help local farmers meet certification requirements for U.S. food imports.

In addition to a lively and energizing discussion, a few follow up points emerged:

Call for Syllabi:

In the Q & A session there was a request to share information and syllabi. Susan Schneider administers a Food Law Professors listserv and the Food Law Professors blog. Professors who teach a food law course, whether survey, seminar, traditional course with a focus on food law, are asked to either post a link to their syllabus or submit it to Professor Schneider for posting.  Similarly, if you are involved in teaching or scholarship in the area of food law & policy and would like to join the listserv, please email Professor Schneider to join.

Upcoming Conferences:  

UCLA’s Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy will be hosting a Food Law Litigation Symposium this April, with dates to TBD.  The Resnick Program also plans to host a larger scale conference on food law in the fall of 2014.  We will keep in touch with Professor Roberts and post updated announcements.

New Association: 

Law professors are in the early stages of forming a Food Law and Policy Association for those who teach and write in this area. This idea was discussed at the Yale Food Policy Symposium, with Emily Broad Lieb, Baylen Linnekin, and Margaret Sova McCabe, along with panel members Michael Roberts and Susan Schneider.  Melissa Mortazavi has agreed to assist in collecting names of those interested.   If you are interested in being a founding member, please email Melissa.mortazavi@brooklaw.edu.

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