Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Izeman: Wanted: Food Lawyers!

I was delighted to see Mark Izeman’s Blog, Switchboard post an article this week titled, Wanted: Food Lawyers!  Izeman writes that his "advice to law students and new lawyers is to consider how you can apply your skills to the fast growing local, sustainable food movement that seeks to fix our broken national food system."  He says we need "new laws and policies to strengthen their local food systems." And, he lists three additional initiatives that will require lawyers to implement.
  • The development of "sustainability standards," that will help retailers and consumers assess their food choices accurately with an eye toward sustainability; 
  • Establishing food equity through policies that will correct distribution barriers and other causes of food deserts, helping everyone to have access to healthier food.
  • Crafting new laws and policies that address scalability issues, supporting and designing local food systems that can go a step beyond small scale local food efforts to help create a stronger local food system.
I commend Mr. Izeman for recognizing the important and positive effect that lawyers can have in shaping policy to meet the needs of communities.

At the University of Arkansas School of Law, we believe that our LL.M. Program in Agricultural & Food Law helps to serve these needs. We work hard to give our LL.M. candidates the tools necessary to meet these and other challenges, along with a sense of positive purpose and a desire to help their community, whether rural or urban.  As the only LL.M. Program in the U.S. specializing in agricultural or food law, we serve a unique role. And, by emphasizing "food, farming and sustainability" as our guiding motto, we offer a long term look at our food system from "farm to fork," for this generation and the next.

I would add three more initiatives to Mr. Izeman's list.  These relate to the connection between food law and agricultural law -  
  • Understanding the complexities of agriculture and agricultural law in a way that can inform positive policy making; 
  • Fostering positive communication and understanding between rural and urban interests, between farm and consumer interests, and by appreciating the differences and finding common ground.
  • Evaluating agricultural policy in terms of environmental sustainability in the face of climate change.
We have many challenges ahead of us. Well educated food and agricultural law attorneys can help us face these challenges.


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