American Food Governance

Section 1, Spring 22

Schedule Information

Enrollment: 5/25
Credits: 3
Day Time Room Start Date End Date
  • MW
  • 1130-1250
  • WB103
01/24/2022 04/27/2022

Course Description

Much attention is given in food law to the end-products of our largely industrialized food system. Food is “adulterated” because it contains a harmful substance. Food is “misbranded” because its packaging claims this, omits that, or states this and that but in the wrong place or with the wrong font size. In this context, food is a rarefied, regulated object —the business of food scientists and sometimes nutritionists — and we subject it to narrow legal inquiries that ask no questions about either the overall industrial food system or its potential alternatives. But how do laws shape the systems of relationships by which food is grown, processed, and sold in America? And what are the implications of these systems for consumers, workers, animal welfare, and the environment? In this course, we step outside the bubble of food product regulation to explore how federal, state, and local laws allocate power and responsibility among public and private actors in different sectors of the food industry. We will consider what this means for the food systems we have and any alternatives we might consider. Examples of specific topics to be covered include attempts to impose order on volatile agricultural markets through laws that regulate what farmers can produce and how they sell it; antitrust immunity for agricultural cooperatives; regulation of contracting practices within the meat and poultry industry; the ability of states and localities to regulate what foods can be sold or the conditions in which it is grown or produced; food libertarianism and non-conventional food enterprises; and the impacts of federalism, preemption, and the police power on the design and governance of American food systems. No prior knowledge or experience is required.

Course Requirements

Exam Info:
Final Type (if any): Flex
Description: Flex exam at end of semester.

Written Work Product
Written Work Product:

Other Work

Other Course Details
Prerequisites: None Concurrencies: None
Mutually Exclusive With: None
Laptops Allowed: Yes
First Day Attendance Required: No
Course Resources: To be announced.
Course Notes:

Graduation Requirements

*Satisfies Writing Requirement: No
**Credits For Prof. Skills Requirement: No
Satisfies Professional Ethics: No

*If “Yes,” then students are required to submit a substantial research paper in this course, which means students do not need to submit any form to SRO for this paper to meet their upper-level writing requirement. If “No,” then students must submit a “special request” e-form to SRO (available via LawWeb) no later than five weeks after the start of the term for a paper in this class to be counted toward the upper-level writing requirement.

**Yes indicates course credits count towards UVA Law’s Prof. Skills graduation requirement, not necessarily a skills requirements for any particular state bar.

Schedule No.
Law No.
Modified Type
Cross Listed: No
Cross-Listed Course Mnemonic:
Public Syllabus Link: None
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Opens: Thursday, April 21, 12:01 AM
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Closes: Sunday, May 01, 11:59 PM