Harvesting the Law: Personal Reflections on Thirty Years of Change in Agricultural Legislation

28 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2013

Date Written: August 1, 2013


The article relies on the author’s thirty plus years as an agricultural law professor to examine the development and evolution of agricultural related legislation in the United States. He classifies the development into four distinct but overlapping eras: the traditional development period, the transitional family farm period, the industrial agriculture "Big Ag" period, and the post-industrial food democracy period, and examines the role laws play in promoting the goals and values of the periods. His analysis identifies the predictability of legal conflicts between different versions of agriculture, especially during the periods of transition between eras – and identifies several current legal disputes that reflect this process. The article examines the generational differences in attitudes and perspectives of students and professors of agricultural and food law, in part influenced by when they were raised and the type of agricultural they experienced. He notes the newer generation of agricultural and food law professors are predominantly female, and come to the topic through food and other non-traditional topics such as animal welfare, food access, and farm worker concerns. The articles uses a legislative analysis to characterize various examples of agricultural legislation both as to the purpose and the effectiveness. The article concludes with examples of important agricultural law topics for future development.

Keywords: agricultural law, food law, food democracy, food safety, hunger, food access, farmers markets, direct farm marketing, urban agriculture, soil conservation, land tenure, new farmers, "right to farm", industrialization of agriculture; ag-gag laws, "pink slime", USDA, federal farm programs, sodbuster

JEL Classification: N50, N51, N52, Q18, Q19

Suggested Citation

Hamilton, Neil D., Harvesting the Law: Personal Reflections on Thirty Years of Change in Agricultural Legislation (August 1, 2013). Creighton Law Review, Vol. 46, No. 4, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2351873 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2351873

Neil D. Hamilton (Contact Author)

Drake University - Law School ( email )

27th & Carpenter Sts.
Des Moines, IA 50311
United States

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