From the 2007 News Archive
International Trade and Global Poverty Students Win Case Against U.S. Department of Agriculture
Before the semester started in January, Professor Steven Schwinn
and students of his International Trade and Global Poverty Legal Theory and Practice course
celebrated a major victory against the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the Court of International Trade.
Representing a Texas-owned shrimping company, Professor Schwinn successfully argued that the USDA has been interpreting its own regulations in violation of the Trade Act of 2002, thus illegally depriving poor farmers of trade adjustment assistance. "This is a big victory for my client, but it’s an even bigger victory for the many similarly situated poor farmers around the country denied benefits because of the USDA’s illegal process," said Schwinn.
The case, Dus & Derrick v. Secretary of Agriculture
, involved the shrimping company’s application for federal Trade Adjustment Assistance, a program that provides financial assistance and training to farmers who have suffered economic losses because of increased imports of agricultural goods. The Court of International Trade held that the USDA improperly interpreted its own regulations under the Trade Law of 2002 and therefore illegally denied Trade Adjustment Assistance to the plaintiff. The Court ruled that the USDA must consider an applicant’s entire economic picture over two consecutive years in determining qualification for Trade Adjustment Assistance a significant departure from the USDA’s standard practice of considering only much narrower factors to determine an applicant’s qualifications.
Students in the LTP each handle at least one appeal to the Court of International Trade. In addition, the LTP course explores the connections between international trade, globalization, and poverty. Topics include trade policy and trade law under the World Trade Organization and regional trade arrangements, and the impact of trade policy on poverty and development in the U.S. and abroad. Professor Schwinn also teaches Constitutional Law, Negotiation, and Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research courses to law students. "[Professor Schwinn’s] work is possible because this institution values those colleagues who teach in non-traditional methods. Those who teach writing, those who teach clinically, and the people who head up our centers who are engaged in policy initiatives are included as equal partners in our academic community," said Professor Brenda Bratton Blom, Director of the Clinical Law Program at the School of Law.
The LTP students plan to handle the case again when it is remanded back to the USDA.