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News Release

Vermont Journal of Environmental Law and American Farmland Trust Host the 2019 Annual Symposium “Bridging the Gap: Reconciling Agriculture with Environmentalism”

Friday, October 11, 2019


The Vermont Journal of Environmental Law (VJEL) in partnership with America Farmland Trust is holding its 2019 annual symposium entitled Bridging the Gap: Reconciling Agriculture with Environmentalism on October 25, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in Chase Community Center at Vermont Law School (VLS). The symposium is free and open to the public, but registration is requested. The deadline to register is October 23.

Four panels of invited experts will cover topics such as clean water and Vermont’s dairy industry, the growing cannabis industry and how farms not only consume but also produce energy. John Piotti, president and CEO of American Farmland Trust, will offer the keynote address.

Public perception holds that environmentalism and the agricultural industry are at cross purposes. The common challenges of environmental degradation and the advent of sustainable practices are encouraging farmers, lawyers, regulators and others to look for innovative ways to help reconcile the goals of both groups and develop models for change. 

“For 40 years AFT has brought farmers and environmentalists together to work on the critical issues that we know now will determine our future as a society and a planet,” said John Piotti, president and CEO of AFT.

He continued, “We have the tools to protect farmland, advance environmentally-forward farming practices, and help keep farmers on the land, but we are not yet implementing them to the degree needed. We must work together across sectors to accelerate this work.”

“At this symposium, we are including speakers from the agricultural sector, government agencies, the legal field, and the academic community to comprehensively explore the issues and solutions surrounding agricultural and environmental law and policy,” said Sedona Chavez, symposium co-editor of VJEL.

“We are expecting a lively discussion and debate about the intersection between agriculture and environmental regulation,” says Abigail Hogan, symposium co-editor of VJEL, “and we encourage interested members of the community to attend.”

Panelists include:

Panel 1: Clean Water and Vermont’s Dairy Industry Panel

Jennifer Rushlow, Director, Environmental Law Center, VLS (moderator)

Laura Ginsburg, Section Chief, Agricultural Division, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets

James Maroney, Former Dairy Farmer and Organic Farming Activist

Jack Lazor, Creator and Founder, Butterworks Farm

Tom Berry, Agricultural, Environmental, and Energy Advisor to U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)


Panel 2: The Growing Cannabis Industry

Laurie Beyranevand, Director for the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, VLS (moderator)

Tim Fair and Andrew Subin, Attorneys and Partners, Vermont Cannabis Solutions

Rye Matthews, Chief Technical Officer, Northeast Hemp Commodities


Panel 3: Farms: Energy Consumers and Producers

Genevieve Byrne, Staff Attorney, Institute for Energy and the Environment, VLS (moderator)

Jimmy Daukas, Senior Program Officer, American Farmland Trust


Panel 4: Models for Change

Sophia Kruszewski, Clinic Director, Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, VLS (moderator)

Lee Miller, Lecturing Fellow of Law, Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic

Steven Winnett, Regional TMDL Coordinator, Environmental Protection Agency Region 1

Phillip Chavez, Managing Partner, Diamond ‘A’ Farms and Partner, Mohawk Valley Farms

Lisa McCrory, Consultant, teacher, activist, organic farmer, and co-owner of Earthwise Farm and Forest


The symposium will be livestreamed. For more information and to register online click here, or go to