Empowering sustainable farmers with proactive, community-centered farm law education, resources, and networks.

Project Overview

LNC19-415
Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2019: $198,199.00
Projected End Date: 10/31/2022
Grant Recipient: Farm Commons
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Education and Training: decision support system, technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: agricultural finance, agritourism, apprentice/intern training, financial management, labor/employment, land access, marketing management, new enterprise development, risk management, Legal
  • Sustainable Communities: quality of life

    Proposal abstract:

    This project, “Empowering sustainable farmers with proactive, community-centered farm law education, resources, and networks,” delivers the following outcomes:

    1. Reduces Risk: 744 farmers learn 12 core principles of farm law and take at least one of 12 specific, legal risk reducing practices across 6 farm law subjects.
    2. Empowers Farmers: 703 farmers feel empowered: they recognize their inherent abilities to address legal risk on their operations.
    3. Trains Farmer-Leaders: 24 farmers receive specialized training as a workshop co-presenter and take a leadership role in assisting peers with farm law risk reduction.
    4. Trains Attorneys: 6 attorneys are trained in the core distinctions of farm law and assist at least 25 farmers in meeting their risk reduction goals

    Issues surrounding business formation, sales contracts, farmland leases, loans, employment law regulations, food safety liability, crop insurance, liability for slips or falls, partnership negotiations, succession and more plague farmers during the life cycle of the farm. Distracting them from their core work and draining the farm of resources, these issues destabilize our innovative direct to consumer and organic farms the most. This project moves to change that by fostering an ecosystem of support where farmers are empowered with to reduce legal risk and leverage legal opportunity.

    This project achieves these results through workshops titled, “Cultivating Your Legally Resilient Farm,” farmer leadership development, and attorney training. The key is our proven Farm Law 101 curriculum which has a track record of at least 70% of farmers reducing legal risk through at least one action step taken within 3 months. The curriculum has also seen at least 63% of farmers become more empowered to recognize their capabilities. Workshops are led by trained farmers and Farm Commons staff together, under a curriculum that emphasizes creativity, relationships, and social values as keys to proactively addressing legal complications.

    We will host 12 workshops, one in each North Central Region state over 2 and half years, reaching 40 farmers each. The in-person workshops will be complimented by a remote-learning opportunity featuring the workshop Toolkit and recorded workshop video segments, accessed by 30 farmers in each NRC state. Farmers will create an individual “My Farm Law Action Plan,” for reducing their farm’s vulnerabilities. Peer-cohort groups will support farmers as they move forward on their action plan. Facilitation by a practicing attorney will ensure farmers have the direct, tangible support they need to make change.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Core-principles-risk-reducing-practices-and-subjects

    1. 744 farmers learn 12 core principles of farm law.
    2. 744 Farmers take at least one of 12 specific, legal risk reducing practices.
    3. 703 farmers feel more empowered to recognize and address legal risk on their operations.
    4. 24 farmers receive specialized training and serve as workshop leaders in assisting peers with farm law risk reduction practices.
    5. 6 attorneys are trained in farm law and assist at least 25 farmers in meeting their risk reduction goals.

    Please see Optional Attachment for a list of the 12 core principles, risk reducing practices, and farm law subjects.

    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.