UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.—Ross Pifer, director of the Rural Economic Development Clinic and the Center for Agricultural and Shale Law at Penn State Law in University Park, was named in City & State PA’s inaugural PA Agriculture Power 100. This list recognizes the significant and powerful people at the forefront of the agricultural community, whether they are involved through government, academia, business, or advocacy.
City & State PA, a news firm that examines Pennsylvania government news at both the local and state levels, creates Power 100 lists so the public knows the most influential people in specific sectors. Pifer’s selection in the first PA Agriculture list reflects decades of work within the world of agricultural law. According to Pifer, “being recognized among Pennsylvania’s agricultural leaders is a true honor. Growing up on a Century Farm in Western Pennsylvania, agriculture always has been part of my DNA. I have been fortunate that my professional career has afforded me the opportunity to give back to Pennsylvania’s agricultural community.”
Pifer has done extensive research in shale gas development and the intersection of agricultural and residential development. As director of the Rural Economic Development Clinic, Pifer prepares young lawyers as an expert in agricultural law while advocating for sustainable rural economic development. The clinic aids agricultural businesses with creating and reviewing contracts, leases, and other legal matters that will help the business be successful.
Additionally, Pifer’s work as director of the Center for Agricultural and Shale Law involves research and outreach that focuses on how this industry affects those in Pennsylvania. Serving landowners, agricultural producers, legislators, and more, the Center is dedicated to providing as much information as possible to help those in Pennsylvania through its programs. At the Center, Pifer supervises a staff of attorneys and law students who organize and conduct these research and outreach programs. Outside of directing centers at Penn State Law, Pifer has written several law review articles, book chapters and essays, invited legislative testimony, and other work on agricultural law-related issues.
While much of Pifer’s work deals with agriculture in Pennsylvania, he has presented on law topics at the national and international levels to legal professionals, government officials, and the public. Pifer is also a veteran, having served on active duty with the U.S. Army JAG Corps at the Netherlands Law Center, where he advised military personnel and commands in the Netherlands, Great Britain, Germany, Luxembourg, and Belgium.
Looking at the future of agricultural law, Pifer said, “The range of legal issues impacting the food and agricultural industries continues to expand. For law students and young attorneys, there are a number of interesting and challenging topics upon which they can launch their legal careers.”