UCLA Law Launches Innovative New Programs in Animal Law and Food Law

20170605 Animal and Food Law Programs
L-R: Taimie Bryant, Michael Roberts and Cheryl Leahy '96

UCLA School of Law is launching new initiatives to promote cutting-edge research in food law and animal law and to build bridges between the two fields.

The school’s Resnick Program on Food Law and Policy will create the Initiative on Animals in Our Food System, which will host a series of roundtables and symposia to examine issues at the intersection of animal law and food law. The programs will begin in the fall of 2017 and gather experts from a variety of disciplines to identify paths forward in public health, food safety, humane treatment of animals and protection for food workers.

The gatherings will explore issues including standards for care of farm animals; worker safety in food production and distribution; the effectiveness of private agreements between suppliers and advocacy organizations to promote sustainable and humane practices; and related issues in the fields of agriculture, economics, moral psychology, law and public policy. These roundtables will generate ideas for further research, including opportunities to engage UCLA Law students in research and clinical education.

The first three years of the program have been funded with a $225,000 grant from the Animal Welfare Trust, a private foundation whose founder and president is Bradley L. Goldberg.

Michael Roberts, executive director of the Resnick Program, said, "This novel series of events will generate new ideas in both animal welfare and food law, and new approaches will emerge to address challenges faced by advocates, industry and regulators."

Separately, UCLA Law has launched an Animal Law and Policy Small Grants Program, providing support to law and non-law researchers pursuing empirical studies in fields relevant to animal law reform. The grant program is the only one of its kind affiliated with a U.S. university.

Led by UCLA Law Professor Taimie Bryant, the program is designed to encourage new empirical research in fields including economics, sociology, medicine, nutritional science, cognitive science, law, public health and other fields.

"Advanced work in a number of disciplines can enable animal law and policy academics to develop increasingly sophisticated methods for evaluating and pursuing animal law reforms," said Bryant. "We know graduate student researchers and others are doing excellent research in related areas, and we want to encourage that activity."

The first round of grant applications must be submitted by October 15. The grants are supported by a gift from animal rights advocate and television personality Bob Barker.

Cheryl Leahy, a 2006 graduate of UCLA Law and general counsel of animal advocacy group Compassion Over Killing, will coordinate both programs. In 2012 Leahy taught the course Animals and Agriculture in the Law at UCLA Law, one of the earliest academic endeavors on the topic at any U.S. law school.

"Food law and animal law are increasingly vital topics, nationally and internationally," said UCLA Law Dean Jennifer L. Mnookin. "These two new UCLA Law initiatives will encourage collaboration across disciplines and usher in new ways of approaching the most pressing challenges."