A Legal Guide to the Business of Farming in Vermont

2004 Annual Report for ENE04-083

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2004: $59,069.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Region: Northeast
State: Vermont
Project Leader:
Debra Heleba
University of Vermont Extension

A Legal Guide to the Business of Farming in Vermont


In this project, we are developing a comprehensive legal guide to the business of farming in Vermont. The primary purpose of the guide is to provide a tool for use by agricultural service providers to better integrate legal issues into their existing business planning curricula and/or service delivery. The guide will not be a substitute for the services of an attorney. It will, however, help farm service providers and the farmers they serve: formulate farm business plans in the context of a wide range of legal issues that impact directly on farmers’ bottom lines; recognize the key legal issues in business formation, farm operation, estate planning, farm credit, and agricultural environmental regulation; recognize when an attorney’s services are necessary; and, become better informed consumers of legal services.

The guide will address aspects of the legal structure of the farm businesses, farm transfer, government regulation of agriculture, and farm contracts.

Objectives/Performance Targets

5000 people will learn about the guide. 200 personnel from Extension, USDA agencies, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, non-profit organizations; consultants; private practitioners; legal services offices; and others in the state of Vermont who provide technical assistance to farmers who are new to farming or are working to enhance the viability of their existing farms will access the guide on the internet. Of these:

- 150 will use the guide as a reference in providing assistance to their farm clients;

- 50 will use the guide as an on-line resource to 200 clients as an aid in drafting their farm business plans or conducting their farming business; and,

- 150 will integrate the guide in their professional activities with colleagues and clients in training peers, advising clients, delivering presentations or when authoring articles, fact sheets and web pages.


October 2003
To prepare for the project, prior to submitting the proposal, project leaders conducted a brief initial survey among potential project beneficiaries to determine the guide’s direction and usefulness. Service providers were asked to prioritize topic areas that the guide could address, how they might use the guide, their interest in reviewing it, and any additional suggestions or comments they might have. All respondents indicated they would use the guide in serving their farm clients. When asked how they would use the guide, most participants referred to the guide as a resource they would use to help inform farmers.

May-June 2004
The project was approved for funding. We developed a draft detailed outline of the guide's content and sent it out for review by farmers and service providers.

July-August 2004
We received feedback regarding the outline of the guide from reviewers and adjusted outline based on their comments. Lead authors started to write first drafts of content.

September-December 2004
All authors prepared first draft of sections of the guide.