Dwight D. Opperman Chair of Law and Professor of Law & Director, Drake Agricultural Law Center

As one of the nation’s leading authorities on the role of law in shaping agriculture and the food system, Professor Hamilton has lectured throughout the United States and in over 20 other countries. He has taught agricultural law for 30 years and has written more than four dozen law review articles and several books on food and agricultural law issues. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Nantes in France for 18 years and teaches annually at the agricultural law graduate program at the University of Arkansas.

In addition to teaching classes each semester, Professor Hamilton advises the Drake Journal of Agricultural Law; helps arrange internships and other work experiences in a student’s area of interest; and provides opportunities for students to assist in various research and agricultural law projects.

Professor Hamilton formerly served as the co-chair of the USDA Small Farms Advisory Committee and served for 25 years on the advisory board for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University.  He was the chair of the Iowa Food Policy Council from 2000 to 2007 and also served on the boards of the Farmer’s Legal Action Group (FLAG) and the National Gardening Association. He is currently on the boards of the Seed Savers Exchange and the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. He is a former president of the American Agricultural Law Association and has served as a consultant for many international organizations such as the United Nations Development Program in China, the Royal Botanical Garden at Kew, the World Bank, and the International Potato Research Center in Lima, Peru.

“Law plays a critical role in shaping how America’s food and agricultural system functions. Decisions about how we farm, about the foods we eat and about the structure of agriculture are influenced by law. Whether the issue is protecting the quality and safety of our food, creating opportunities for new people to enter farming, or preserving the land needed to produce food, America’s ideals are expressed through legislation. Law students, farmers and the public must recognize the power of legislation to help society achieve its goals. Society, acting through the courts and the legislative process, has the ability to determine what the future will bring.

One of my goals is to help students appreciate the empowering nature of drafting legislation to shape public policy. The Agricultural Law Center is directly involved in helping citizens and law students recognize the choices available to our nation and how we can best use the law to achieve the future we desire.”

Many of Professor Hamilton’s publications, along with additional resources on a variety of agricultural law topics, can be found at the Drake Agricultural Law Center’s website.