Ohio State University Extension’s Agricultural and Resource Law program has partnered with a group of universities in the creation of a new Agricultural and Food Law Consortium that will work to research regional and national agricultural law issues.
The consortium is part of and led by the National Agricultural Law Center, which is a unit of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Ohio State is one of three universities to partner in the initiative, said Peggy Hall, OSU Extension’s agricultural and resource law field specialist who will run the program for Ohio State.
The initiative is a formal collaboration to address agricultural law issues that impact food, fiber and energy production, said Hall, who is also an assistant professor for OSU Extension. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
As part of the project, OSU Extension will conduct legal research, write articles, and produce outreach material, she said.
“This consortium will allow us to collaborate on national and regional issues using our strengths to create bigger impact,” Hall said. “The partnership helps OSU Extension bring our expertise and Ohio’s issues to national audience.
“It will also allow us to produce more research and information that will help Ohio agriculture. I’m very flattered that we’ve been chosen to be a member of this consortium. It is a strong recognition of what we are doing here at OSU Extension.”
Consortium members also include the National Sea Grant Law Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law and the Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center at Penn State Law. The consortium is funded by a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Library, an entity with the USDA Agricultural Research Service.
Ohio State will receive $125,000 for its consortium-related work, Hall said.
The consortium will expand the reach of objective agricultural and food law research and information to the nation’s agricultural community of producers, state and federal policymakers, attorneys, cooperative extension professionals, and others at the state, regional and national levels, Harrison Pittman, director of the National Agricultural Law Center, said in a statement.
The center covers more than 50 areas of agricultural and food law including biotechnology, the farm bill, states’ right-to-farm laws, environmental law, animal well-being issues and many others, organizers said.
The scope of the consortium includes land-based food, fiber, and energy production systems, as well as seafood and marine-based production via aquaculture, Pittman said.
“This is a first-of-its kind partnership in the United States and a natural expansion of our long-standing formal partnership with the USDA National Agricultural Library,” he said.
One of the consortium’s first projects will be a webinar series covering various issues in agricultural and food law, such as state laws on GMO labeling, food safety and shale energy, organizers said.
One way to gauge stakeholder’s needs is through an online survey that will help define the consortium's long-term research and information agenda, Hall said.
“The survey asks for input on agriculture and legal issues to help us identify what needs or issues people are dealing with,” she said. “The consortium framework will enable us to collaboratively address national needs for timely and objective research on agricultural and food law issues.”
Additional information about the consortium, including a link to the survey, is online at nationalaglawcenter.org/consortium.