Food, Law, and COVID-19

A Collaborative Course Sponsored by the LL.M. Program in Agricultural and Food Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law during the fall 2020 semester. The live sessions will regularly convene each Friday from noon-1 p.m. Central Time. Recordings will be available to all participating universities.

Participating Professors

COVID-19 and Impacts on the Food System - An Introduction (Aug. 28, 2020)

Susan Schneider, William H. Enfield Professor of Law and director of the LL.M. Program in Agricultural and Food Law, University of Arkansas School of Law

Susan Schneider teaches agricultural and food law courses and serves as the director of the School of Law's LL.M. Program in Agricultural and Food Law. Her private practice and advocacy work in agricultural law includes positions with firms in Arkansas, Minnesota, North Dakota and Washington, D.C. She is a past president of the American Agricultural Law Association (AALA) and twice served on the Board of Directors. She is a recipient of the AALA Distinguished Service Award and the 2011 AALA Scholarship Award.

Schneider is the author of the book, Food Farming and Sustainability: Readings in Agricultural Law. The second edition was released in 2016 and its companion website may be found at

Schneider served on the founding Board of Trustees of the Academy of Food Law and Policy and as co-chair of the academy. She also serves on the board of directors of Farmers Legal Action Group, Inc. She has provided pro bono service to the Consumer Law Center through her work on the Consumer Bankruptcy Guide. She is a frequent speaker at conferences, often delivering an update on food law and policy issues. Her personal Twitter account is followed by many interested in agricultural and food law issues. She is the co-owner of her family's farm in Minnesota.

Schneider graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota (Phi Beta Kappa, Pi Gamma Mu). She earned a Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the University of Minnesota School of Law and a Master of Laws in agricultural law in from the University of Arkansas School of Law.

Nutrition, Health, and COVID (Sept. 4, 2020)

Margaret Sova McCabe, dean and professor of law, University of Arkansas School of Law

Margaret Sova McCabe joined the University of Arkansas School of Law as dean and professor of law July 1, 2018. Since taking the helm, she has applied her years of experience and expertise to building on the school’s long-standing tradition of value and student centricity. She serves the campus as chair of the Dean’s Budget Model Committee and is the 2019-20 co-vice chair of the Administrative Law Section of the American Bar Association Food and Drug Committee.

In the first year of her deanship, the school launched a Summer Public Service Fellowship Program, which provides paid public service fellowships to promising law students interested in public service careers and is part of the law school's broader effort to fulfill the university's land-grant mission.

McCabe’s scholarship in food systems and economic policy, agriculture and food law, and administrative procedure may be found in publications such as the Journal of Food Law and Policy, Food and Drug Law Journal, Lewis and Clark Environmental Law Review and Maine Law Review.

Federal Food and Nutrition Assistance (Sept. 11, 2020)

Sheila Fleischhacker, adjunct professor, Georgetown Law; co-chair, HER NOPREN COVID-19 School Nutrition Implications Working Group

Sheila Fleischhacker is an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University where she teaches a first-of-its-kind nutrition law and policy course and co-teaches a unique course on the first 1,000 days of life. She is developing a course book that synthesizes key law and policy approaches from historical and contemporary perspectives across the globe to improving healthy eating and reducing nutrition-related non-communicable diseases and food insecurity. As founder and president of Fly Health LLC, she provides public health law research consulting services.

Previously, Fleischhacker was the senior advisor of nutrition and food safety at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of the Chief Scientist (2017-18), on detail from the National Institutes of Health (2012-18). During her federal service, she was the liaison to a variety of organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network (NOPREN), the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR), Let’s Move! and Healthy People. Prior to that, she was an adjunct assistant professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the principal investigator for the American Indian Healthy Eating Project and its subsequent capacity building project known as Healthy Native North Carolinians.

Fleischhacker received a bachelor’s degree in 2000 and Juris Doctor in 2007, with a certificate in health law from Loyola University Chicago and Doctor of Philosophy in integrative biosciences/nutritional sciences from Pennsylvania State University in 2004. Her post-doctoral training focused on urban and regional planning and public health nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She completed a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) internship through a distance program at Iowa State University in 2018. She was admitted into the Illinois Bar in November 2007, and she is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Society of Nutrition Education and Behavior (serving as a director-at-large and was awarded the 2018 Mid-Career Award), the American Society for Nutrition (recently elected to its board of directors) and the Academy of Food Law Professors. She is the 2020 immediate past chair of the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families and served for two years on the leadership team of Arlington’s Destination 2027, which helped develop and implement the county’s first equity resolution.

An Introduction to “Essential Workers” (Sept. 18, 2020)

Nicole Civita, Sustainable Food Systems Specialization, lead and instructor, Masters of the Environment Graduate Program, University of Colorado Boulder; affiliated professor, LL.M. Program in Agricultural and Food Law, University of Arkansas School of Law

Nicole Civita is an instructor and the Sustainable Food Systems Specialization lead in the Masters of the Environment (MENV) Graduate Program at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her approach to the study of food is grounded in systems thinking and stewardship, attentive to relationships of care and reciprocity and framed by comprehensive law and policy knowledge. Her current scholarship and advocacy identify the ethical values and explore the dilemmas across the food chain, with particular attention to the well-being of workers and producers. Through this work, she aims to produce ethical guidance, actionable policy recommendations and transparency-enhancing tools that enable nourishing, informed and values-aligned choices about food. Civita is also nationally recognized for her work on food waste and conservation policy and resilient place-based food systems.

In addition to her work in the MENV program, Civita also conducts applied food ethics research through the Global Food Ethics and Policy Program of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and teaches as an affiliated professor with the LL.M. Program in Agricultural and Food Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law. She has represented farmers and food entrepreneurs in private practice with Handel Food Law LLC.

Civita holds an Master of Laws in agricultural and food law from the University of Arkansas School of Law; a Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, Order of the Coif, from the Georgetown University Law Center; and an Bachelor of Arts in American studies and creative writing from Columbia University.

A View from the Field: Farmworkers During the Pandemic (Sept, 25, 2020)

Beth Lyon and Briana Beltran

Beth Lyon, clinical professor of law, founder of the Farmworker’s Legal Assistance Clinic; associate dean for experiential education and director of the Clinical, Advocacy and Skills Program, Cornell Law School

Beth Lyon is a clinical professor of law, directs the Farmworker Legal Assistance Clinic, serves as associate dean for experiential education and directs the Clinical Program at Cornell Law School. She has written extensively on domestic and international immigrant and farm worker rights.

Lyon previously taught at Villanova Law School, where she was the founding director of the Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic, founding co-director of the Community Interpreter Internship Program, and professor of law. Prior to that, she was a staff attorney for Human Rights First, a consultant at the D.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Center on Housing Rights and Evictions, and a practitioner-in-residence at the International Human Rights Clinic at the American University Washington College of Law.

She serves in leadership roles for various organizations and initiatives, including Latina and Latino Critical Theory, Inc., Justice in Motion, the Law School Involvement Working Group of the New York State Permanent Commission on Access to Justice, and she is a current member of the New York State Advisory Council on Immigration Issues in Immigration Court.

Lyon received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, a Master of Science from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, and a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center. While at Georgetown, she was the managing editor of the Georgetown Journal of International Law and a Ford Foundation Fellow, working in Lima, Peru, for the Comisión Andina de Juristas.

Briana Beltran, lecturer, Farmworker Legal Assistance Clinic, Cornell Law School

Briana Beltran has been with the Farmworker Legal Assistance Clinic since August of 2016, where she has supervised students representing farmworker clients on immigration and employment matters in upstate New York, throughout the U.S. and internationally, and she has co-taught a lawyering skills seminar to clinic students.

Prior to joining Cornell Law School, she served as a staff attorney for nearly four years at Southern Migrant Legal Services in Nashville, Tennessee, a project of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid Inc. There, she represented migrant farmworkers in a six-state service area on a range of employment matters, including litigation in federal court and preparation of applications for immigration relief based on workplace abuses. The majority of her clients were workers present in the U.S. on H-2A temporary agricultural visas, and most of her clients’ claims were for violations of the H-2A program regulations, federal and state wage and hour law, and forced labor claims under federal anti-trafficking statutes.

She previously served as a law clerk in federal district court in the Middle District of Tennessee and has worked with workers’ rights organizations including the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and Domestic Workers United. She is a member of the Tennessee and New York State bars, the Clinical Legal Education Association and the AALS Clinical Legal Education Association, and she is a board member of the Worker Justice Center of New York.

Beltran received a Bachelor of Arts from Stanford University and a Juris Doctor from the New York University School of Law, and she is a fluent Spanish speaker. Her primary research interests include litigation on behalf of low-wage workers, the employment rights and remedies of farmworkers and the H-2A temporary foreign worker program.

COVID Outbreaks in Meat and Poultry Processing Plants (Oct. 2, 2020)

Leah Douglas, associate editor and staff writer, Food and Environmental Reporting Network (FERN)

Leah Douglas is a staff writer and associate editor at the Food and Environment Reporting Network, an independent, nonprofit newsroom that publishes investigative and explanatory reporting on food, agriculture and environmental health. Her reporting on corporate power and big business in the food and agriculture sectors has been published in the Guardian, the Nation, the Washington Post, Mother Jones, NPR, Time, Fortune and other outlets. She has been interviewed for many podcasts and radio shows, including CBS Weekend News Roundup and All Things Considered. Douglas has presented her research and reporting at many conferences and universities, including at Yale and the New School. She was the 2020 recipient of the National Farmers Union Milt Hakel Award for excellence in agricultural reporting and one of the New Economies Reporting Project’s 2019-20 Finance Solutions Fellows.

Since April 2020, Douglas has been a leading journalist covering the spread of COVID-19 at meatpacking plants, at food processing facilities and on farms. Her data and reporting on the spread of the virus among food system workers has been cited in dozens of media outlets, as well as in Congressional investigations, lawsuits and research articles.

Farm to Slaughter: The Law and Policy of Meat Production in the U.S. (Oct. 9, 2020)

Anthony Schutz, associate dean for faculty and associate professor of law, University of Nebraska College of Law

Anthony Schutz has been associated with the University of Nebraska College of Law first as a student and then as a teacher for the last two decades. During law school, he worked for Cline, Williams, Wright, Johnson and Oldfather in Lincoln, Nebraska, and was editor-in-chief of the Nebraska Law Review. He graduated in 2003 with the highest distinction and clerked for the Hon. C. Arlen Beam of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit until 2005. During the 2004-05 academic year he also taught Legal Research and Writing at the College of Law as an adjunct instructor. During the 2005-06 academic year he was a visiting lecturer in the Lawyering Program at the Cornell Law School. In 2006, he returned to the University of Nebraska and began teaching in the College of Law. Since then, he has taught courses in Agricultural Law, Environmental Law, Water Law, Land Use Regulation, State and Local Government Law and Contracts. He is currently serves as the associate dean for faculty, which he began in 2020. He is the faculty advisor for the Agricultural and Environmental Law Society, moot court and Nebraska Connections. The latter role is related to the Rural Law Opportunities Program, which he also leads.

The product of a farm family in Elwood, Nebraska, Schutz's research interests include the often intertwined subjects of agricultural law, environmental and natural resources law, and state and local government, all of which have significant impacts on rural landscapes and populations. He has served as the chair of the AALS Section on Agricultural Law, is active in the American Agricultural Law Association and the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation and is a frequent lecturer on agricultural and water law issues regionally and nationally. He tries to keep a close eye on the legislature and encourages students to speak up and take part in the legislative process, both while they are in law school and in their professional lives going forward.

On the Farm: Livestock Producers Under Contract (Oct. 16, 2020)

Jennifer Zwagerman, assistant professor of Law and director of the Agricultural Law Center, Drake University Law School

Jennifer Zwagerman is the director of the Drake Agricultural Law Center and an assistant professor of law. She is a 2004 graduate of Drake Law School, where she obtained her certificate in food and agricultural law and served as editor-in-chief of the Drake Journal of Agricultural Law. She also received a Master of Laws in food and agricultural law from the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville.

Prior to joining Drake, she was an attorney in the Des Moines office of Faegre and Benson (n/k/a Faegre Drinker) with a national food and agribusiness practice and served as a law clerk to the Hon. David R. Hansen on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Zwagerman was the 2017-18 president of the American Agricultural Law Association, is the 2020-21 chair of the board of trustees for the Academy of Food Law and Policy and is a member of the Iowa State Bar Association Agricultural Law Council and Small/Solo Section Council.

Emily Broad Leib, clinical professor of law, director of the Food Law and Policy Clinic and deputy director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, Harvard Law School

As founder of the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, Emily Broad Leib launched the first law school clinic in the nation devoted to providing clients with legal and policy solutions to address the health, economic and environmental challenges facing our food system. Broad Leib focuses her scholarship, teaching and practice on finding solutions to some of today’s biggest food law issues, aiming to increase access to healthy foods, eliminate food waste, and support sustainable food production and local and regional food systems. She has published scholarly articles in the California Law Review, Wisconsin Law Review, the Harvard Law and Policy Review, the Food and Drug Law Journal and the Journal of Food Law and Policy, among others.

Broad Leib is recognized as a national leader in food law and policy. She was named by Fortune and Food and Wine to their list of 2016's Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink. The list highlights women who had the most transformative impact in the last year on what the public eats and drinks. She was one of the inaugural recipients of Harvard President Drew Faust’s Climate Change Solutions Fund in 2015. Broad Leib’s project, “Reducing Food Waste as a Key to Addressing Climate Change,” was one of seven chosen from around the university to confront the challenge of climate change by leveraging the clinic’s food law and policy expertise to identify systemic solutions that can reduce food waste, which is a major driver of climate change.

Broad Leib is one of the founders of the Academy of Food Law and Policy and served as founding co-chair of the academy's board of trustees. She is the faculty supervisor for the Harvard Mississippi Delta Project and Harvard Food Law Society. She spent two years in Clarksdale, Mississippi, as the joint Harvard Law School/Mississippi State University Delta Fellow, serving as director of the Delta Directions Consortium, a group of university and foundation leaders who collaborate to improve public health and foster economic development in the Delta. In that role, she worked with community members and outside partners to design and implement programmatic and policy interventions on a range of health and economic issues in the region, with a focus on the food system. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University and a Juris Doctor, cum laude, from Harvard Law School.

COVID Economic Disruption: The Global Supply Chain (Oct. 30, 2020)

Alexia Brunet Marks, associate professor of law, University of Colorado Law School

Alexia Brunet Marks' research interests include food systems law and international economic law with an approach that is both transnational and multidisciplinary. She was a visiting professor at the University of Copenhagen in 2018, is active in both the European and American Societies of International Law and was a founding member of the Academy of Food Law and Policy. Her current research explores Food System Resiliency in an era of COVID and beyond. She serves on the Colorado Coronavirus Farm and Food Systems Task Force, working on Project Protect Farm System Workers.

Brunet Marks' articles have been published in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, the North Carolina Law Review, the Arizona Law Review, the Harvard Journal on Regulation and other leading journals. In 2019, she was awarded the Sandgrund Award for Colorado Law's Best Consumer Rights Work, titled “Feeding the Eco-Consumer,” and in 2017, she was recognized by the Colorado University provost with the Faculty Achievement Award for her article “A New Governance Recipe for Food Safety Regulation.” Her empirical publication, “What Predicts Law Student Success,” was featured in the Wall Street Journal. Brunet Marks teaches International Business Transactions, International Trade Law, Food Law and Policy and Torts.

Before joining Colorado Law, she was a visiting assistant professor at Northwestern Law School. Prior to that, she worked at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Argonne National Laboratory, working in the area of risk analysis and modeling. She began her career as a founding partner in an international trade venture and worked in Japan, Guinea and Poland.

She holds a Juris Doctor, cum laude, from Northwestern Law School, where she received the Ralph Berger Award for her research on compensatory damages and was an ABF Fellow. She also holds a Doctor of Philosophy in applied economics and Master Science from Purdue University and received competitive doctoral fellowships from USDA and the National Science Foundation. She received a Bachelor Aarts from Colgate University in international relations.

International Perspectives: Food Security and COVID in Developing Nations (Nov. 6, 2020)

Uché Ewelukwa Ofodile, E.J. Ball Professor of Law, University of Arkansas School of Law

Uché Ewelukwa teaches in the international law and intellectual property fields. She teaches in the University of Arkansas’s J.D. Program and in the LL.M. Program in Agriculture and Food Law. Her LL.M. courses include Right to Food, Corporate Social Responsibility in the Agricultural and Food Sectors, and Intellectual Property in the Agricultural and Food Sectors. Ewelukwa is an active member of the American Bar Association Section on International Law (ABA-SIL) and currently serves as the co-chair of the Committee on Investment and Development, vice-chair of the International Intellectual Property Rights Committee and vice-chair of the Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility of the association. Ewelukwa is an active member of the American Society of International Law (ASIL) and serves as the co-chair of the Intellectual Property Interest Group and the co-chair of the Africa Interest Group of ASIL. She is the Secretary General of the African Society of International Law.

Ewelukwa widely published scholarship focuses particularly on international investment law and arbitration, business and human rights, China-Africa trade and investment relations, as well as the intersection of intellectual property law and human rights. Her articles have appeared or are forthcoming in the Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal, Michigan Journal of International Law, Minnesota Journal of International Law, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, University of Miami Law Review, Transnational Dispute Management and others.

She is on the advisory board of the African Journal of Legal Studies, on the editorial board of Law Digest (“Africa’s premier law journal”), and part of the editorial team of the Africa International Legal Awareness Blog. For four years, she served as the editor of The Year In Review for the International Investment and Development Committee of the American Bar Association Section of International Law. She also has served as the editor of The Year In Review for the Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility of the American Bar Association Section of International Law.

Ewelukwa has received many awards and fellowships for her work. Awards include: Outstanding 2014 Year-in-Review (YIR) Award from the American Bar Association Section of International Law (for the Corporate Social Responsibility Committee’s The Year In Review that she edited and co-authored), the 2009 Human Rights Essay Award from the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, and a fellowship award from the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs.

Global Food Perspectives and the Right to Food (Nov. 13, 2020)

Michael Fakhri, special rapporteur on right to food, United Nations Civil Rights Council; associate professor of law and director of the Food Resiliency Project in the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center, University of Oregon School of Law

Michael Fakhri was appointed special rapporteur on the right to food by the U.N. Human Rights Council in March 2020 and assumed his functions on May 1, 2020. He is a professor at the University of Oregon School of Law where he teaches courses on human rights, food law, development and commercial law. He is also the director of the Food Resiliency Project in the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center. He holds a Doctor of Juridical Science from the University of Toronto, Master of Laws from Harvard Law School, Bachelor of Laws from Queen’s University, and a Bachelor of Science in ecology from Western University.

He has taught courses on the right to food at Harvard Law School, European University Institute and the University of Arizona Indigenous Governance Program. He has delivered lectures on international human rights and development topics at universities in places such as South Africa, Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar, Singapore, Italy, Switzerland, Iceland, the U.S. and the United Kingdom. He has also led public dialogues on human rights and development with peasant organizations, with labor unions, with human rights activists in the Arab region and North America, and at international organizations such as the WTO Ministerial Conference.

During his practice as a lawyer, Fakhri fought for the rights of people who were indigent and incarcerated in a psychiatric institution. More recently, his book Bandung, Global History, and International Law (co-edited with Vasuki Nesiah and Luis Eslava) was cited by the International Court of Justice.

COVID and Food Security in Indian Country (Nov. 20, 2020)

Colby Duren, director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, University of Arkansas School of Law

Colby Duren is the director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative (IFAI) at the University of Arkansas. He previously served as policy director and staff attorney for IFAI since 2017. He has more than 11 years of experience in federal Indian law and policy, with a specific focus on food, agriculture, nutrition, natural resources, and economic development, which includes work on three Farm Bills.

Prior to joining IFAI, Duren championed native rights with several organizations in Washington, D.C. He served as staff attorney and legislative counsel for the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), advocating on behalf of Tribal Nations on land, natural resources and agriculture issues; a legal assistant for the Native American Rights Fund (NARF); and a paralegal and legislative assistant at a law firm specializing in food and agriculture and represented Tribes on land reparation and agriculture issues.

Duren earned a Juris Doctor from the American University Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C., holds a Bachelor of Arts from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, and is a student in the University of Arkansas School of Law Agricultural and Food Law LL.M. Program. He is licensed to practice in Maryland, the District of Columbia, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 2016, Duren was nominated by the Native American Bar Association of Washington, D.C., for its Significant Contribution in Indian Law Award for his work on environmental issues in Indian Country, and he was recognized by the Intertribal Agriculture Council membership in December 2018 for his work supporting Tribal governments and Tribal producers in the development of the 2018 Farm Bill.

Local and Regional Food Systems: Building Sustainability and Resilience (Dec 1, 2020)

Neil Hamilton, professor emeritus of law, Drake University Law School; visiting adjunct professor, LL.M. Program in Agricultural and Food, University of Arkansas School of Law

Neil D. Hamilton is widely recognized for his insight into the complex issues that challenge our food system and is noted for his ability to recognize challenges on the horizon. He taught agricultural law at Drake University Law School from 1983 to his retirement in 2019. He served as the Dwight D. Opperman Chair of Law and the founding director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake. Under his leadership, the center established a national and international reputation for excellence in research, education and public extension on food policy, agricultural law and rural development. Hamilton continues to teach as a visiting adjunct professor in the LL.M. Program in Agricultural and Food Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law.

Professor Hamilton chaired the Iowa Food Policy Council for seven years for then Gov. Tom Vilsack and through a cooperative agreement with USDA helped to create and fund food policy councils in 15 other states. He is the author of one of the very first articles on this: “Putting a Face on Our Food: How State and Local Food Policies Can Promote the New Agriculture,” 7 Drake Journal of Agricultural Law 407 (2002).

Hamilton is a past-president of the American Agricultural Law Association (AALA) and a recipient of its Distinguished Service Award. He has authored several books, including the national award winning, What Farmers Need to Know About Environmental Law and the Legal Guide to Direct Farm Marketing. In addition to his work on local food systems, he has written many law review articles on topics such as food democracy, rural lands, intellectual property rights and plant genetics, the future of agricultural law, sustainable agricultural land tenure, agricultural industrialization and production contracts. He has conducted legal seminars throughout the U.S. and in twenty foreign countries. He has actively served on the advisory board of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, the Food Corps, the Seed Savers Exchange, and the Iowa Food Policy Council. He and Vilsack worked together again when Hamilton served as an informal advisor during Vilsack’s tenure as the U.S. secretary of agriculture.

Hamilton has a Bachelor of Science from Iowa State University, 1976, in forestry and economics, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Iowa. He and his wife Khanh own Sunstead Farm near Waukee, Iowa, and raise produce and flowers for local restaurants.

Learning from the Past: Pandemics and Food Security in Historical Context (Dec. 4, 2020)

Michael Roberts, professor from practice and executive director of the Resnick Center for Food Law and Policy, UCLA School of Law

Michael Roberts is actively involved in the development of food law and policy. He has lectured on food-law subjects at law schools and conferences in many countries, including the U.S., China, Korea, U.K., Italy, Canada, Spain, Romania and Russia. He is a research fellow for Renmin University School of Law’s Center for Coordination and Innovation for Food Safety. He is an adjunct professor of law for East China University of Science and Technology (Shanghai), where he lectures annually on food law topics.

Roberts is particularly interested in the global governance of food and recently led the Resnick Center into a partnership with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on a series of research and advisory initiatives to confront global nutrition and food security, safety and quality. Roberts is very involved in the development of the history of food law and is working on several projects to this end and in the regulation of food and innovation.

In addition to working with the advisory board for the Resnick Center, Roberts serves on various boards related to food law and policy. He is member of the board of directors for Feed the Truth. He is also a founding board member and historian for the Academy for Food Law and Policy and on the advisory board for the World Food Law Institute.

Roberts entered the field of food law when, in 2000, he left his law practice and enrolled in the LL.M. Program in Agricultural and Food Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law, the only such program in the U.S. Since then, he has engaged in a variety of professional capacities related to food law and policy. A few years after completing the LL.M. program, he was invited to join the University of Arkansas School of Law as a research professor of law and as the director of the National Agricultural Law Center when it was part of the law school. In this position, he taught food law and policy and founded the law school's Journal of Food Law and Policy.

He is the former first chair of the Lex Mundi (world's largest association of private law firms) international agribusiness practice group. Roberts was of counsel in Washington, D.C., with Venable LLP, as a member of the firm's food and agricultural law practice group, and he was special counsel to the Roll Global farming and food companies headquartered in Los Angeles, where he was responsible for global food regulation, trade and public policy. He was also a visiting scholar and consultant to the UNFAO in Rome.

Roberts teaches two courses at UCLA Law: Introduction to Food Law and Policy (for second- and third-year law students) and Historical Perspective: The Role of Law in the Pursuit of a Moral Food System (a “modes” class for first-year law students). He has also been instrumental in the organization of a food studies certificate graduate program at UCLA and was the co-instructor of the program’s Introduction to Food Studies course.

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