Students in Food and Animal Law Classes Visit UNH Dairy Farms
On April 14, UNH Law students in the Agricultural and Food Law and Animal Law classes visited the University of New Hampshire’s dairy farms to see the laws they had been studying in action, and to take advantage of a hands-on learning opportunity provided by the law school’s 2010 affiliation with the university.
The classes paid an afternoon visit to the school’s Organic Research Farm in Lee, run by Trent Schriefer, to learn how an organic dairy farm is run. They then toured UNH’s Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center, run by Jon Whitehouse.
“In the agricultural and food law class, I try to expose students to how law and regulation shape what happens in the food industry,” said Professor Margaret Sova McCabe, who teaches Agricultural and Food Law. “One of the reasons this trip is great is that conventional dairies and organic dairies are regulated differently. So students see how different types of regulations result in a different look in the real world. “
At the Organic Research Farm, students donned plastic shoe-covers to ensure that they didn’t bring any unwanted contaminants to the farm’s carefully maintained ecosystem. The farm’s organic dairy operation is the first of its kind at a land grant university, and it is the subject of research by UNH faculty and students.
At the Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center, students saw how a typical New England dairy operation might run. They followed an animal’s typical path, from the feeding stalls to the milking area. The farm is primarily research focused: The Dairy Nutrition Research Lab is housed next door.
“Students have an ability to see the law in a book and the law in the field, and to see the connection between the two,” said McCabe. “There’s a really big difference in how law shapes what happens on those farms. Students can see that there’s a real world impact of the law that they study that results in tangible differences on the farm.”
Professor Patricia Morris, who teaches Animal Law, said, “Animal law is the fastest growing area of law in the United States; animals as food is one of the most discussed and debated issues. Considerations include: Does a healthier animal result in a healthier food product, how are those animal food products marketed and advertised (and are they compliant with the law), and what role does the humane treatment of animals for slaughter play?”
“This is a wonderful experience for future attorneys,” Morris said. “It gives our students insightful, detailed information on a client's business operations so we, as attorneys, can learn how best to support and advocate for them today and tomorrow.”