Purdue University and Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law are partnering up to form an agricultural law program. Those tasked with designing it will have to adapt to a changing field of study.
Ag lawyer Amy Cornell has been appointed as the consultant for the venture, which would train budding lawyers in agricultural issues. She’ll oversee a committee that will determine the needs of the ag market, as well as students and employers.
Cornell says ag law is broad, but holds unique opportunities because of its depth.
She says the program will set itself apart because of the nuances of agricultural law, such as specific bankruptcy codes or property tax laws.
“A lot of times, in regular law school classes, you do not have time to study all of those special exemptions and applications of agricultural law, and so it requires a deeper dive,” Cornell says.
The Vermont Law School and University of Arkansas have existing ag law programs. Cornell graduated from the Arkansas program, and says it’s a good model that will be part of her research.
“But I look forward to creating something here,” she says. “So that one: students may not have to leave if they don’t want to, and two: to attract more talent to Indiana.”
A steering committee is expected to decide on educational goals, resources at both schools and how the program should be designed over the next two years.
Cornell says current trends in the ag market will be incorporated into the plan.
“I think you’re going to start hearing a lot more about data and how data is used in agriculture, and the ownership of data between individual farmers and the agribusiness companies,” she says.
Cornell says one of her goals for the program is to help law students understand how consolidation of family farms and agribusinesses interacts with existing policies.
The first stage of the initiative is funded by state money, set aside in the last legislative session.