Data Matters in the Next Farm Bill

My colleague, Laurie Ristino up there in Vermont wrote a great blog about the need for data in terms of the farm bill. I remind every market and every food service organization that collecting data now is necessary for your state or national advocates to help build our farm bill agenda.

Data as a policy issue seems both prosaic and nerdy. But the absence of usable, quality data precludes the American public from reaping the value of their investment of billions in the farm bill. It’s time to unlock the ability to measure the farm bill’s impact and enhance the return.

Data is the currency of our modern economy. While often associated with the fortunes of Silicon Valley, big data is harnessed by companies that loom large in the agriculture sector to create new services and products key to their business strategies.

Professor Laurie Ristino is the founding director of the Vermont Law School Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) and an associate professor of law. Professor Ristino is also the faculty adviser to the VLS Food and Agriculture Law Society.

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October Newsletter from Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS)

I am a huge fan of the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at the Vermont Law School. This activist center has already added a great deal of thoughtful research to the field of community food and their impact continues to grow exponentially. It is my honor to be working on one of their projects, a legal toolkit for farmers markets, along with the good folks at NOFA-VT.

OCTOBER 2015

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GREETINGS
As I write this, the harvest is in and the farmers markets are in their final weeks. At CAFS, we have also had a bountiful season, presenting at conferences on each coast (the University of Oregon and Harvard University), teaching a wonderful class of food and agriculture law and policy students, and continuing our project work for food and agriculture producers and entrepreneurs. We are thrilled to report the award of additional funds through the National Agriculture Library, expanding that partnership through our innovative collaboration with William Mitchell Public Health Law Center and the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut. We are also pleased to announce the expansion of our staff with one of our own graduates, Sarah Danly, who is spearheading our leading-edge use of design, technology and the law to produce relevant and powerful legal tools. These are just a few highlights of what you will read below.
I hope you enjoy the fall issue.
Eat well, be well,
Laurie Ristino
Director, Center for Agriculture and Food Systems
Banner image courtesy of Brooklyn Grange

PROJECTS & RESOURCES
USDA National Agricultural Library
Awards CAFS $728,273 Grant
In September, CAFS received a $728,273 grant from the USDA National Agricultural Library. The grant will support three new projects; the largest — the Community FoodWorks project — is a collaboration with the Public Health Law Center at William Mitchell College of Law and the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut. The two additional projects, How to Use a Lawyer and Farmland Access Lease Assistant, will be designed to help farmers find and utilize legal resources.

STAFF SPOTLIGHT
Sarah Danly
Program Officer for Legal Design
Sarah recently earned her MELP (Master of Environmental Law and Policy) from Vermont Law School. She also holds a BA in Architectural Studies and Community Health from Tufts University, as well as a BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, where she focused on sculpture, drawing, design, and digital skills.
   Sarah will work with students in the Food & Agriculture Clinic on designing accessible online legal tools and information, which include the animated clip, “What Does the Food and Ag Clinic Do?” Prior to coming to CAFS, Sarah conducted outreach for Next Step Living, a Boston-based home energy efficiency company, and worked at farmers markets as a vendor and assistant manager.

FACULTY SPOTLIGHT

CAFS Welcomes Practicing
Faculty Members Beth Boepple
and Amy Manzelli
Beth Boepple (right) is developing the fourth food and agriculture distance-learning course for CAFS, drawing on her rich experience practicing food and farm law. A VLS alum, Beth is a shareholder and attorney with Lambert Coffin in Portland, Maine, specializing in corporate, commercial and banking law; farm and food production law; and real-estate and land-use law.
    In addition, Beth will be co-teaching Agriculture and Food Entrepreneur Lawyering Skills with Amy Manzelli (left) in the spring. Amy currently collaborates with CAFS on two USDA-funded projects. She is a partner at BCM Environmental & Land Law, PLLC in Concord, New Hampshire, specializing in environmental, conservation, and land law.

NEWS & EVENTS
Director Laurie Ristino Presents at Harvard Law and the University of Oregon School of Law
On September 25, 2015, Ristino gave the presentation “Food, Agriculture, and Drought: Implications of Water Supply Scarcity on Food Production and Policy Solutions at the Federal, State, and Local Levels” at the Drought in the American West Symposium at the University of Oregon School of Law in Eugene. On October 3, she also gave a seminar at Harvard’s Food Law Student Leadership Summit entitled “No Food Without Nature.”
Associate Director Laurie Beyranevand Contributes to Recently Published Books
Beyranevand wrote the chapters “Breaking Down Barriers to Local Food Distribution in Urban Centers” from Urban Agriculture: Policy, Law, Strategy, and Implementation, and “Agricultural Biotechnology and NAFTA: Analyzing the Impacts of U.S. and Canadian Policies on Mexico’s Environment and Agriculture,” from NAFTA and Sustainable Development: The History, Experience, and Prospects for Reform.
People at CAFS
* Associate Director Laurie Beyranevand was interviewed October 1, 2015 on Heritage Radio Network’s Eating Matters podcast about food labels and CAFS’ food labeling site Labels Unwrapped. She was also quoted in Mother Jones‘ article, “Chipotle Says it Dropped GMOs. Now a Court Will Decide if That’s Bulls-t;” in ClimateWire‘s “Businesses learn there are tax incentives and laws to help them recycle mountains of food;” in the Valley News‘ article “Food Notes: A Modern Take on an Old-Time Product;” and in the Health Affairs Blog article “The FDA’s Determination on Artificial Trans Fat: A Long Time Coming.”
* Director Laurie Ristino was quoted in the Law360 article “9th Circ. Pesticide Ruling Holds EPA to High Standards,” commenting on the 9th Circuit Court’s decision to vacate several EPA registrations of bee-killing pesticides.

* Research Fellow Amber Leasure-Earnhardt(right) attended the Closing the Hunger Gap: Cultivating Food Justice conference in Portland, Oregon, in September. She met with food bank representatives, farmers, and advocates to discuss the role of CAFS’ gleaning research in furthering food justice.
* LLM Fellow Carrie Scrufari will be presenting her paper “Generally Recognized as Safe-Until They’re Not: Why the FDA Never Subtracts Food Additive From GRAS” at the Yale Food Systems Symposiumon October 30-31, 2015. She workshopped the paper in September at Pace Law School’s 2nd Annual Future Environmental Law Professors Workshop.