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

Project Overview

WPDP19-23
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:
Co-Investigators:
Libby Reed
SnoValley Tilth

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • 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

    Abstract:

    This project developed 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 achieved this result by training farm support persons and farmers in the basics of sustainable farm law. Our 5-week online workshop dispelled sustainable farm law myths and gave educators and farmers the basic tools they need to guide sustainable farmers, without overstepping their professional bounds. Training occurred through a 5-module course that covered 5-weeks. Each week included a pre-work video, an activity, an online meeting, and completion of an individualized action plan. A widely distributed e-newsletter also increased agricultural educators’ knowledge and confidence in farm law. The workshop and newsletter instructed, built confidence, dispelled myths, and provided opportunities for networking. Participants also received a Toolkit of action steps and reference materials, that help facilitate safe and accurate resolution of sustainable farm law issues.

    This program was piloted in the Midwest under a North Central SARE Professional Development grant to great success. However, with the occurrence of COVID-19, we had to convert the existing in-person curriculum to an online version. This caused a significant time delay to a project that was already behind schedule when the pandemic struck. The process of converting an 8-hour in-person curriculum to a successful online format took 9 months of work and was expensive, and we fortunately had access to other funds to achieve that. Without the other funds, we would have been unable to host this workshop at all.

    Project objectives:

    Objective: 45 agriculture professionals or farmers learned and conveyed at least one of 10 legal best practices in farm employment, business structures, land matters, sales, agritourism, and insurance/liability law to with the result that 70% take or recommended risk-reducing action, building the resiliency of Washington farmers.

    Curriculum Development

    Convert what was proposed as an 8-hour in-person workshop to an online, 5-week modular course attended remotely. April-Dec 2020

    Set up and Recruitment:

    Arrange workshop platform. December 2020

    Send e-announcements highlighting the relevance/importance of farm law issues, description of workshop, event date/location, and invitation to receive e-newsletter. October-December 2020

    Engagement:

    50 professionals register for “Guiding Farmers to Legal Resiliency,” receive survey link, and receive pre-workshop assignment. December 2020

    Learning:

    35 professionals or producers (70% of registrants) complete pre-assignment. January 2021

    45 professionals or producers (90% of registrants) attend workshop and receive a printed Guiding Farmers to Legal Resiliency Toolkit. January 2021

    Follow-up:

    100 professionals or producers receive our “Guiding Farmers to Legal Resiliency” e-newsletter with timely updates, relevant news stories, farm law details, and opportunities to provide feedback. March 2021

    Verification:

    33 professionals or producers (70% of those reached via workshops/video) complete a post-workshop evaluation, detailing intention to provide farmers with one of 12 specific action points. January 2021

    13 professionals or producers (30%) complete a post-workshop evaluation 3 months after, detailing whether they provided farmers with one of 12 specific action points. March 2021

    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.