Cultivating Farm Law Leaders

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2022: $72,072.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2024
Grant Recipient: Farm Commons
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Rachel Armstrong
Farm Commons


Not commodity specific


  • Farm Business Management: labor/employment, land access, risk management, value added, legal resilience
  • Sustainable Communities: leadership development, quality of life

    Proposal abstract:

    This project will result in the development and support of 8 Farm Law Leaders who will deliver at least 8 farm law workshops in the North Central region on legal issues of importance to sustainable and direct to consumer farmers. As a result, 240 farmers will have more stable businesses and improved quality of life. We will achieve these outcomes by hosting a Farm Law Leadership Group- a train-the-trainer program designed to foster the ability of respected Extension educators, Farm education nonprofit staff, farm business service providers, and post-secondary farm instructors to lead farm law workshops in local communities. The training curriculum emphasizes risk-reducing action steps and accurate, clear legal explanations. The program also trains (and requires) Leaders to use peer-to-peer training techniques and supports 3 farmers as co-contributors to the leadership program and resulting workshop template resources.

    This program creates a next-step leadership process for agriculture professionals who have been through our SARE-funded Guiding Resilience program (a 15-hour training commitment to gain a broad, accurate base of knowledge, especially as it affects diversified and direct-to-consumer farmers). These folks are asking us for this program. They want to build on their knowledge by being able to deliver presentations. With a wide unmet need for more presentations on farm law matters, this is the perfect opportunity. The Farm Law Leadership group will create permanent leaders in the North Central region. It will also create a template we can efficiently replicate here and in other regions of the country.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The primary output of this program will be the following:

    1. 8 Farm Law Leadership Group trainees who are prepared to deliver up to 5 specific farm law trainings in their communities/states. Those workshops are:
      1. Farm Business Structure Basics
      2. Farm Employment Law Basics
      3. Diversification: Minimize legal risk while expanding opportunity
      4. Food Safety Liability: The good, the bad, and the ugly
      5. Land Leasing and Purchasing: Getting the legal ducks in a row
    2. At least 8 farm law workshops delivered to a total of 30 farmers each, for a total of 240 direct to consumer and sustainable farmers reached with essential information with a track record of reducing risk in the near term.

    In order to develop the above, we will also create the Farm Law Leadership training, discussed in this application.

    1. A 5-module curriculum for the Farm Law Leadership Group which will focus on a) building common purpose, b) understanding the value, risks, and opportunities in legal education c) providing folks with all the training necessary to confidently deliver 5 workshops above, and d) an understanding of how diverse audiences come to legal education and how to meet the needs of underserved audiences.
    2. The training will also provide detailed information on why using peer-to-peer techniques in farm law education is essential, along with detailed information on when and how to incorporate these techniques.
    3. We will work with 3 farmers themselves to provide case studies, stories, and feedback on presentation material for the Farm Law Leadership Group. This direct interaction with farmers will help the leaders understand how farmers perceive the material.

    To support the above, we will implement an online infrastructure to support the training package above including the powerpoint decks, the scripts, the activity sheets, the step-by-step instructions for preparing for the presentation, and other supplementary resources.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.