Guiding Farmers to Legal Resiliency through Farm Law Education for Washington Ag Professionals

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $16,362.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2021
Host Institution Award ID: G168-20-W7504
Grant Recipients: Farm Commons; SnoValley Tilth
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Rachel Armstrong
Farm Commons
Libby Reed
SnoValley Tilth


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: workshop
  • Farm Business Management: agritourism, apprentice/intern training, business planning, community-supported agriculture, financial management, labor/employment, risk management, 1) legal compliance 2) insurance
  • Sustainable Communities: quality of life

    Proposal abstract:

    This project will develop the long term stability and resiliency of sustainable farmers by proactively resolving legal vulnerabilities and providing speedy pathways to resolutions when problems do occur. We will achieve this result by training Farm Service Agency staff, Extension staff, Conservation District staff, Natural Resources Conservation Service staff, community lending entities and loan officers, nonprofit farm advocates, and nonprofit farm educators in the basics of sustainable farm law. Our workshop and video will help dispel some sustainable farm law myths and give educators the basic tools they need to guide sustainable farmers, without overstepping their professional bounds. Training will occur through development of a video workshop and e-newsletter that increases agricultural educators’ knowledge and confidence in farm law. The resources will instruct, build confidence, dispel myths, and provide an opportunity for networking. Participants will also receive a Toolkit of easy to hand out materials, to help them facilitate safe and accurate resolution of sustainable farm law issues.

    This program has been piloted in the Midwest under a North Central SARE Professional Development grant to great success. This project will allow us to adapt our successful curriculum to the unique needs and context of the Western region states. With a single pilot program in Washington state, we will be able to expand the project to all of the Western Region states in subsequent years.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Objective: 45 agriculture professionals will learn and convey at least one of 12 legal best practices in farm employment, business structures, land matters, sales, agritourism, and insurance/liability law to 360 farmers, with the result that 70% take recommended risk-reducing action, building the resiliency of 252 Washington farmers.


    Set up and Recruitment:

    Arrange workshop date, location, and accommodations. April 2019

    Send e-announcements highlighting the relevance/importance of farm law issues, description of workshop, event date/location, and invitation to receive e-newsletter. May-July 2019



    50 professionals register for “Guiding Farmers to Legal Resiliency,” receive survey link, and receive pre-workshop assignment. May-July 2019

    10 professionals (21% of those registered for a workshop) respond to survey assessing legal questions fielded, current knowledge, and opportunities to relay knowledge to farmers. July 2019



    35 professionals (70% of registrants) complete pre-assignment. August 2019

    45 professionals (90% of registrants) attend workshop and receive a printed Guiding Farmers to Legal Resiliency Toolkit. August 2019

    65 professionals watch a condensed, recorded version of “Guiding Farmers to Legal Resiliency.” September 2019



    100 professionals receive our “Guiding Farmers to Legal Resiliency” e-newsletter with timely updates, relevant news stories, farm law details, and opportunities to provide feedback. September-May 2020

    45 professionals give project resources to 360 farmers through educational events, handouts, and individual advising. September-May 2020



    77 professionals (70% of those reached via workshops/video) complete a post-workshop evaluation, detailing intention to provide farmers with one of 12 specific action points. September 2020

    33 professionals (30%) complete a post-workshop evaluation 4 months after, detailing whether they provided farmers with one of 12 specific action points. December 2019

    36 (10%) of farmers reached will complete the survey (included on every resource created from the project) as to whether the farmer took the action recommended. May 2020

    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.