American Ag Law Association elects leaders, honors members in Oklahoma City

Farm Forum

The American Agricultural Law Association (AALA) held their 37th Annual Agricultural Law Symposium on October 6, 7 and 8. More than 250 agriculture and food attorneys from across the country attended the AALA Symposium that was held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The symposium featured national and regional legal and policy experts addressing cutting edge issues in agriculture, natural resources, water, food, environmental and agribusiness law. Attendees included in-house counsel, small and rural practitioners, attorneys from large firms, policy counsel, and law students.

Justin Schneider of Indianapolis, Indiana assumed the role of President. Schneider serves as the Director of State Government Relations for Indiana Farm Bureau. Jennifer Zwagerman, Associate Director of the Drake Agricultural Law Center and Director of Career Development at Drake University Law School, was elected to the role of President Elect.

Both Zwagerman and Schneider said they intend to work on improving communications with AALA members and strengthening membership in the association. Schneider said, “As President I want to make sure we focus on providing value to our members. There are some great things happening within AALA and I am excited to be a part of growing and strengthening our organization.”

Members joining the Board during the annual meeting include:

• Tyler Buswell; a real-estate attorney and shareholder at Kirton/McConkie from Salt Lake City, Utah (term ending 2019)

• Tiffany Dowell-Lashmet; Agricultural Law Specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service from Amarillo, Texas (term ending 2019)

• Elizabeth Rumley; a senior staff attorney at the National Agricultural Law Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas (term ending 2017)

AALA honored several members with awards for their service to the association and the agriculture community.

The Distinguished Service Award was presented to David Grahn, the Associate General Counsel for International Affairs, Food Assistance, and Farm and Rural Programs Division at U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Distinguished Service Award is given annually to an AALA member demonstrating consistent dedication to the development of agricultural law, the legal profession and AALA.

The Excellence in Agricultural Law Award was presented to three individuals recognized for outstanding contributions to the legal profession and the agricultural community:

• David LeBas; Amarillo, Texas received recognition for his work in private practice with Naman, Howell, Smith and Lee, PLLC

• Mike Traxinger; Aberdeen, South Dakota, received the non-governmental organization award for his work with the South Dakota Wheat Growers Association

• Peggy Kirk-Hall; Marysville, Ohio, received the academia award in recognition for her work at The Ohio State University.

The Professional Scholarship Award was presented to Stephanie Tai of Madison, Wisconsin for her publication, Whole Foods: The FSMA and the Challenges of Defragmenting Food Safety Regulation, 41 American Journal of Law &Medicine 447 (2015).

The Student Scholarship Award was presented to Neal Rasmussen, a 2016 graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School, in recognition of his publication, From Precision Agriculture to Market Manipulation: A New Frontier in the Legal Community, 17 Minnesota Journal of Law Science & Technology 489 (2016).