On Monday, June 23, 2014, the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) officially launched the Legal Services Food Hub (LSFH), a free legal services clearinghouse for farmers, food entrepreneurs, and food-related organizations. The Harvard Food Law & Policy Clinic (FLPC) collaborated with CLF to create Farm & Food Law: A Guide for Lawyers in the Legal Services Food Hub Network. Alli Condra, Clinical Fellow at FLPC, presented the content of the first version of the Farm & Food Law Guide with the help of two summer interns, Graham Downey and Kate Giessel.
A recent survey found that only 10% of farmers seek out legal services, as compared to 70% of small business owners in other industries. The LSFH seeks to increase this percentage by training attorneys on agriculture and food-specific issues, and then connecting them to small-scale farmers and food entrepreneurs who could benefit from pro bono transactional legal services. The Farm & Food Law Guide is meant to be a resource for attorneys in the LSFH network, providing some context for their work with LSFH clients. The first version of the Farm & Food Law Guide includes four chapters: Massachusetts Farming and Local Food Economy; Business Structures; Food Safety; and, Farm Transitions. The Farm & Food Law Guide itself is a work in progress; additional chapters are forthcoming and will take a more in-depth look at the legal issues that small-scale farmers and food entrepreneurs in Massachusetts face.
In addition to an introduction to the substance of the Farm & Food Law Guide, those in attendance were given an overview of agriculture in Massachusetts, with a focus on some of its more unique aspects. For example, Massachusetts ranks number one in the nation in the percentage of farms that operate a CSA.
Also presenting at the launch were representatives from CLF, New England Farmers Union, Stonyfield Farms, and Nixon Peabody. Nearly 75 attorneys and other professionals attended the event, which was held at the Nixon Peabody offices in downtown Boston.
For more information, visit the Legal Services Food Hub.