Small-scale food systems keep money circulating locally and are a good way to build back declining rural communities.”
"Local foods can strengthen a rural community," said Kenneth Miller. "If you want to buy an avocado or a banana in Vermont that is fi ne, but we want there to be local and regional foods available as well. Small-scale food systems keep money circulating locally and are a good way to build back declining rural communities." Spurred by the local food movement and community-supported agriculture, Kenneth said he launched Law for Food LLC in Vermont in 2010 to help farmers, restaurants, and food entrepreneurs thrive.
"Small-scale food systems keep money circulating locally and are a good way to build back declining rural communities." The firm's 20 or so New England clients range from a dairy farmer in central Vermont to an itinerant slaughterer in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Some of Kenneth's clients are referrals from farming nonprofits throughout New England. Kenneth works closely with organizations that provide legal and business support to small-scale farmers and food entrepreneurs. He also works with agricultural cooperative extensions at the University of Vermont and University of New Hampshire.
His venture arose from conversations about food safety, small-scale agriculture, and assistance for struggling rural communities. "I saw the legal issues surrounding farming during my legal internship at the Rural Vermont," a farm advocacy group in Montpelier, said Kenneth. Through his internship opportunities, he quickly discovered that "VLS instills a sense of responsibility and accountability, and teaches students how to use a JD to make a positive contribution to the community."
He and his partner, Christina Asbee '11, write about food safety, farmers' markets, raw milk, and other issues on their website's blog, www.lawforfood.com. The firm's mainstays are business financing, corporate formation, labor law, regulations, and estate planning. From production contracts to generational estate plans to complex litigation, Kenneth has found many farmers going without the legal support that other businesses consider essential.
Recently, he helped create a legal guide, in conjunction with UVM's agriculture extension office, on the prepurchase of farm goods through CSA shares. "There is some ambiguity on whether CSAs are a type of securities," Kenneth said. "We tell farmers what they should be doing and recommend they talk to each investor and disclose the risks."
Kenneth's learning curve was helped by a Randolph lawyer he started working with in his third year at VLS. She gave him general advice and accompanied him on his first few legal consultations with farmers who wanted a will, power of attorney, and other legal help. Since then, Kenneth has gained traction on an array of legal issues over the years.
"This has been an adventure," he said. "No two issues are alike."