My Latest Law-Review Article Explores Growth in Field of Food Law & Policy

I’m excited to report that my latest law-journal article has just been published in the Journal of Food Law & Policy (housed at the University of Arkansas Law School). In the article, which I co-authored with Harvard Law School’s Emily Broad Leib, we conclude that the legal field of Food Law & Policy has matured into a vital and vibrant field in the legal academy.

The article, Food Law & Policy: An Essential Part of Today’s Legal Academy, updates a seminal 2014 Wisconsin Law Review article on the field, Food Law & Policy: The Fertile Field’s Origins and First Decade, by me and Broad Leib. That article was the first to detail the fascinating origins and explosive growth of the field from its beginnings in the mid-2000s. In the new Journal of Food Law & Policy article, we present fresh data on the steady growth of the field since publication of our Wisconsin Law Review article.

Using the same ten criteria we developed to measure the growth of Food Law & Policy for the earlier article, the Journal of Food Law & Policy piece measures and details the field’s growth since that time. The field’s continued growth—along with its firm footing within the legal academy—is one of the new article’s key findings.

For example, in the 2014 article we determined that 20 of the top-100 law schools had offered Food Law & Policy courses. The new article identifies 34 such schools that have offered courses—including, in some cases, multiple course offerings. That’s a seventy-percent increase in just four years.

The new article also reveals several other equally compelling data points. For example, the 2014 article identified one dedicated Food Law & Policy clinic at a law school (led by Broad Leib), along with thirty clinics at twenty-three laws schools that had pursued one or more Food Law & Policy projects. The new article shows that four schools now boast dedicated Food Law & Policy clinics, and that nearly six-dozen clinics at four-dozen law schools have now worked on one or more Food Law & Policy projects.

Finally, while the 2014 article identified seven (of ten) areas of a legal field that Food Law & Policy had occupied, the new Journal of Food Law & Policy article demonstrates that Food Law & Policy now meets all ten such criteria. That's exciting growth for a legal field, particularly over a period of just a few short years.

For legal nerds only, here’s the cite: Emily Broad Leib & Baylen J. Linnekin, Food Law & Policy: An Essential Part of Today’s Legal Academy, 13 J. Food L. & Pol’y 228 (2018).

I Filed Brief for Reason, Cato Urging Supreme Court to Take Up California Foie Gras Ban

Last week, Reason Foundation (the nonprofit that publishes Reason, where I write a weekly food-law column) partnered with the Cato Institute to file an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the foie gras producers and sellers who are challenging California’s foie gras ban. I was honored to be asked to write and submit (as a member of the Supreme Court bar) the brief. In March, the plaintiffs asked the Supreme Court to take up their appeal after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last fall reversed a U.S. District Court ruling that had struck down the ban.

The possible implications of a state animal-rights law that interferes with interstate and foreign commerce in animal products are already reverberating. Last year, in separate lawsuits, each brought by more than a dozen states, California and Massachusetts were sued over respective animal-rights laws in those states that similarly discriminate against interstate and foreign commerce.

Together, the California and Massachusetts laws target eggs, pork, and beef sales. If it seems as if a couple states can do widespread and lasting damage to livestock farmers, retailers, restaurateurs, consumers, and food freedom across the country, then that’s also the reality. That’s also what makes this foie gras case so important.

"This brief supports Reason's commitment to 'Free Minds and Free Markets,'" says Manny Klausner, a former editor of Reason, a Reason Foundation co-founder and board member, and attorney, who joined me in filing the brief. "And it's particularly satisfying for Reason to file a Supreme Court brief defending liberty that quotes Thomas Jefferson and James Madison's opposition to bans on various types of foods and liquors as 'lunacy' and 'despotic'—and also cites Escoffier, Julia Child, and Thomas Keller!"

I am proud to have had the opportunity to work with Reason Foundation and The Cato Institute and to lend my voice to the chorus urging the Supreme Court to take up this important case.

I'll Discuss My Book, Class-Action Food Lawsuits in Trio of Midwest Law-School Appearances Next Month

Fresh off a talk earlier this month at the University of Washington Law School, where I discussed my critically acclaimed book Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable, I’ll be spending several days on the road next month to speak at three of the Midwest’s best law schools.

On March 5, I’ll give a book talk at the University of Missouri Law School in Columbia. Later in the month, on March 28, I’ll give another book talk, this one at University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor. Both talks are sponsored by the law schools’ respective Federalist Society chapters.

In the middle of the month, on March 16, I’ll take part in what’s sure to be a fascinating symposium put on by the Loyola Consumer Law Review at Loyola University Law School in Chicago. The symposium, "A Classless Act: Have Class Actions Lost Their Effectiveness as a Consumer Protection Tool?", focuses on the abuse and diminishing effectiveness of class-action lawsuits.

I’ll sit on a mid-day panel, "Class Actions That Give Bad Names: A Look at What Some Call Frivolous Litigation," alongisde Loyola Law School Prof. Jim Morsch. My talk will focus on class-action litigation targeting food makers, including suits targeting Wrigley and Subway. Later on, I’ll contribute an article which expands on my remarks to the Consumer Law Review’s 2018 Symposium Issue.

I’m grateful for these invitations to speak to and with law students and faculty members next month!

I'm Quoted in Great N.Y. Times Front-Page Piece on Regulations Impacting Small Apple Farmers

Earlier this week, the front page of the New York Times featured a thoughtful, well-researched article on ways that many regulations impact smaller food producers. That topic is at the heart of much of my research and writing, including my recent book, Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable.

The great Times piece, by staff investigative reporter Steve Eder, focuses specifically on rules impacting small apple growers. It also quotes me at length. Here's a snip:

“So many of the farmers I’ve spoken with tell me that stricter and stricter regulations have put many of their neighbors and friends out of business, and in doing so cost them their homes, land and livelihoods,” said Baylen Linnekin, a libertarian-leaning expert in food law and policy, in an email. “For many farmers, rolling back regulations is the only way they can survive.”

[...]

Mr. Linnekin, the food lawyer and author of “Biting the Hands That Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable,” predicted the new requirements would not lead to significant improvements in food safety.

“Instead, the result will likely be more of what we’ve experienced over the past few decades as regulations have ratcheted up,” he said. “More of our fruits and vegetables will be grown by large domestic producers who can afford to comply with the regulations — at the expense of smaller competitors — and by produce farmers abroad.”

I encourage you to click through and read the whole article. It's a balanced, refreshing look by the mainstream media at the issue of overregulation of food production and sales at a time when many politicians in Washington, D.C. at least claim to be taking a hard look at the problem.

In case you're long on time and short on things to read as the calendar turns to 2018, this week also saw publication of my latest op-ed, this one a look at a multi-state lawsuit against California over the latter's ban on some out-of-state eggs, which appears in the Orange County Register and several other leading Southern California newspapers.

Food Safety News Gives 'Biting the Hands that Feed Us' Thumbs Up

Food Safety News, the leading U.S. food-safety website, founded by Seattle food-safety litigator extraordinaire Bill Marler, has a nice writeup on me and my book, Biting the Hands that Feed Us. Here's an excerpt from the piece, written by Food Safety News editor Dan Flynn:

In the book, Linnekin can be blunt. He says FDA rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act “threaten to treat small farmers like manure and to treat manure–the lifeblood of organic fertilization and sustainable farming–as a toxin.”

Linnekin looks at how FDA threatened the livelihoods of “artisanal cheesemakers and beer brewers of all sizes” and barred people “from using sustainable methods to grow, raise, produce, prepare, sell and buy a variety of foods.”

As you may have guessed, “sustainability” is the prime directive for Linnekin. It’s on my list words in danger of becoming meaningless for its overuse by the lazy, but Professor Linnekin is precise in his choice of words. For Linnekin, whether a rule or regulation is helping or hurting sustainability is a crucial metric for measuring its effectiveness.

Linnekin does not blow off food safety. He says some rules are “necessary and desirable,” but he does question “blind faith” in rule makers.

Though Food Safety News (a website Flynn notes I've previously contributed to) generally speaks out in favor of more stringent regulations than I support--Marler, who I quote in Biting the Hands that Feed Us, does the same--it's clear from Flynn's words that he respects the measured approach I take in the book. Flynn is careful to note that Food Safety News doesn't "do" book reviews. If they did, though, he's also clear he'd recommend reading Biting the Hands that Feed Us.

"I’d say it a fascinating read, but that would sound like a book review," Flynn concludes.

Quite a good non-book-review review of my book, I'd say! If you haven't picked up the "fascinating read" that's currently Amazon's #1 Best-Selling book in the Environmental & Natural Resources Law category, what are you waiting for?