Food and Agriculture Clinic

The Food and Agriculture Clinic equips students with practical legal skills and an opportunity to engage in food system law and policymaking. Student clinicians work with VLS faculty and local, regional, and national partners to research, develop, and disseminate legal resources for food system stakeholders, including farmers and food enterprises, farmworkers, administrators, legislators, and advocates. Through a range of projects, student clinicians explore substantive law and policy issues in the field of food and agriculture, while applying and refining their legal research and writing skills and developing communication, project management, and leadership skills.

We are unique. Only a handful of law clinics nationwide are exclusively dedicated to food and agricultural law and policy. Distinctively, the Clinic develops legal resources addressing:

  • Farmland access and stewardship;
  • Food and farm business organization and structure;
  • Food security;
  • Labor laws;
  • Animal welfare;
  • Public health;
  • Local/regional food system development; and
  • Compliance with complex federal and state laws.

Recent Clinic Projects Include:

Farmers Market Legal Toolkit

Funded by a four-year USDA NIFA grant, we collaborated with the Northeast Organic Farming Association of VT and the national Farmers Market Coalition to create a Farmers Market Legal Toolkit designed to help farmers market leaders nationwide identify and navigate key legal issues that arise in starting and operating farmers markets, including governance (business entity selection), accepting SNAP/EBT benefits, and risk management. This project aims to support the growth of local food systems by providing legal resources to build resilient and accessible farmers markets.

Farmland Access Legal Toolkit

With USDA NAL support, we collaborated with BCM Environmental & Land Law, PLLC and Heyman Legal to create and disseminate a Farmland Access Legal Toolkit designed to help farmers understand the legal architecture of affordable and equitable farmland access arrangements, and to help landowners balance earning needed retirement income with making their land affordable to the next generation of farmers. This project aims to support equitable land transfer and access for all farmers.

Farm to School Legislative Survey

We have collaborated with the National Farm to School Network to develop a survey and report designed to help legislators, school administrators, and farm to school advocates understand how to use state legislation to create and support robust farm to school programs. This project promotes local and regional food and agriculture systems, food security, and public health.

To learn more, please contact Clinic Director Sophia Kruszewski at skruszewski@vermontlaw.edu.