Agriculture and Food Law: Becoming an expert

Public interest in our food system, from farm to fork, is increasing at a rapid pace, said Professor Susan Schneider, Program Director for the LL.M. in Agriculture & Food Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law.

“People want to know how their food was produced, what’s in it, and whether it is safe,” she said. “This has led to a number of legal opportunities.”

New agricultural businesses, food businesses and innovative business structures, like food hubs, are all in need of sound legal advice, Schneider said. Food companies of all sizes require legal assistance in complying with food safety and labeling regulations. Nutrition standards, food assistance programs, food waste reduction and genetically modified foods are just a few of the trending issues that lawyers handle.

Although law school graduates receive an education in the underlying concepts of food and agricultural law — torts, contracts, property and environmental law — there is a specific body of substantive agriculture and food law that lawyers are not taught in law school. Agriculture and food lawyers need specialized knowledge of regulations related to labeling and advertising, policies governing nutrition and obesity, and laws involving animal welfare, contamination and food borne illnesses. 

“The LL.M. credential is valuable for marketing your expertise and distinguishing yourself from others that may have only taken a course or tried to learn on their own, sometimes at the client’s expense,” Schneider said.

Agriculture and food law experts are in demand by federal agencies, state governments, NGOs and private industry, and the need for their specialized knowledge will only to continue to grow.

“Food is the most essential element of our survival,” Schneider said. “Our food systems are inherently connected to the environment and are already being impacted by climate change. Going forward, food system regulation and the public support provided to the sector will affect everyone.”

 


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