Thursday, January 9, 2014

Annual AALS Section Meeting: Innovations in Teaching Food Law and Policy

Happy 2014. Thank you to all who attended the very exciting panel held past week at the AALS annual meeting in New York regarding integrating food law into law schools' curricula.  Speakers included Susan A. Schneider (Director, LL.M. Program in Agricultural & Food Law, University of Arkansas), Michael Roberts (Executive Director, Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy, UCLA), Alli Condra (Fellow, Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic). 

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:

  1. CALL FOR SYLLABI: In the Q & A session there was If you teach a food law course, whether survey, seminar, traditional course with a focus on food law, please post your syllabus for interested parties to consult and consider in making up their own classes. 
  2. UPCOMING CONFERENCES:  UCLA’s Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy will be hosting a Food Law Litigation Symposium this April, dates to TBD.  The Resnick Program also plans a larger scale conference on food law in the fall of 2014.
  3. NEW ASSOCIATION: We are in the early stages of forming a Food Law and Policy Association.  If you are interested in being a founding member, please email

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