Faculty & Staff
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Neil Hamilton, Dwight Opperman Chair and Professor of Law and Director of the Agricultural Law Center

     phone: (515) 271-2065 e-mail: neil.hamilton@drake.edu

As one of the nation’s leading authorities on the role of law in shaping agriculture and the food system, Neil Hamilton has lectured throughout the United States and in 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. Each year he is a visiting professor at the agricultural law graduate program at the University of Arkansas.

In addition to teaching classes each semester, Neil advises the Drake Journal of Agricultural Law; helps arrange internships and other work experiences for student’s area of interest; and provides opportunities for students to assist in various research and agricultural law projects at the Center. He also supervises the Center's research initiatives on local food, sustainable land tenure, and policies to assist new farmers. 

Neil formerly served as the co-chair of the USDA Small Farms Advisory Committee and he currently serves on the advisory board for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University and as the chair of the Iowa Food Policy Council. He serves 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.

Matt Russell, Resilient Agriculture Coordinator

    phone: (515) 271-4956 e-mail: matt.russell@drake.edu

Matt Russell is Resilient Agriculture Coordinator at Drake University Agricultural Law Center where he is responsible for projects relating to improving the opportunities in Iowa's agricultural and rural economy. He joined the Center staff in April 2006 and has worked on issues concerning retail agriculture, land tenure, conservation, climate change, farmer veterans, rural development, state food policy, and federal farm policy.

Matt grew up on a family farm near Anita in Cass County, received his B.A. from Loras College in Dubuque, and studied for the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary in Illinois. In 2003 he earned an M.S. in Rural Sociology from Iowa State University. In addition to his work at Drake, Matt and his husband Patrick Standley operate Coyote Run Farm, a 110 acre farm in rural Lacona and market fresh produce, eggs, and beef at farmers markets and other local outlets. He serves on the Iowa Farm Service Agency State Committee of the USDA and the Marion County Development Commission.

Before coming to Drake, Matt worked as an organizer for Iowa Citizen Action Network, worked for the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, and taught at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Nevada. He has taught Sociology at Des Moines Area Community College and an undergraduate course at Drake about Cuba in transition. His work on food and agriculture, has taken him to 26 states, the District of Columbia, Scotland, Italy, and Cuba.

Jennifer Zwagerman, Associate Director of the Agricultural Law Center and Director of Career Development

    phone: (515) 271-4119 e-mail: jennifer.zwagerman@drake.edu neil.hamilton@drake.edu

Jennifer Zwagerman's varied background in the food and agricultural sectors provides her a broad perspective to the important work done in the Drake Agricultural Law Center. She is currently serving a three-year term on the American Agricultural Law Association Board of Directors, sits on the Agricultural Law Section Council of the Iowa State Bar Association, and is a member of the Rural Practice Committee and the Law Practice Management Committee.

Jennifer received a B.S. in Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications from Michigan State University. She spent several years as the promotions director for the Michigan Beef Industry Commission, Michigan Veal Committee, and Michigan Cattleman’s Association before returning to school to focus on agricultural law and policy. The Drake Agricultural Law Center and its many opportunities were the primary reasons that attracted Jennifer to Drake, and she earned her J.D. from Drake Law School in 2004. As a student, she served as editor in chief of the Drake Journal of Agricultural Law and was one of the first Harkin Summer Fellows. Jennifer went on to obtain her LL.M. in Agricultural Law from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

She returned to Des Moines to work as an associate at Faegre & Benson (n/k/a Faegre Baker Daniels) in the general litigation group with a national practice in food and agricultural law. Working primarily with agribusiness companies ranging from seed and chemical input suppliers to livestock and food companies, much of her work involved products liability, food safety, and food regulation. She left the firm in 2011 to serve as Drake Law's director of career development in addition to her work with the Agricultural Law Center. She also teaches various food and agricultural law classes, including Food & the Law and Current Issues in Food & Agriculture.

Ag Law Publications

Last Modified: 9/10/2015 4:05:00 PM by Kayla Choate