Agrarian Trust

USDA Funding Goes to Tenancy Research in Vermont

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy announced $759,000 in U.S. Department of Agriculture funding for a three-year partnership between the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) at VLS and the National Agricultural Library (NAL). The announcement was made September 24th at the Vermont Law School.​

The USDA funding will support dissemination of agricultural and food law research and the development of legal tools related to two key sustainability issues—land tenure and gleaning.

“Vermont Law School is a leader, not just in Vermont but for the entire nation, on agricultural legal education,” said Leahy. “This new agreement will further enrich opportunities for VLS students and our state to tackle emerging agricultural legal issues and develop practical tools for farmers. From helping new farmers acquire land to increasing charitable food donations from farms, this work reflects Vermont values.”

Leahy, as the senior most member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, included funds for the cooperative agreement in the Fiscal Year 2014 Agriculture Appropriations Bill.

“We are honored that Senator Leahy will be here to show support for our Center for Agriculture and Food Systems,” said VLS President and Dean Marc Mihaly. “Vermont leads the way in sustainable agriculture and food innovation. This state has been the perfect place to grow our Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, which is now one of the most comprehensive law centers in the country.”

CAFS and NAL plan to work collaboratively to develop legal tools for land tenure—to promote the transfer and retention of farmlands and acquisition of affordable farmland for new farmers. CAFS’ new Food and Agriculture Clinic​ will spearhead the land tenure project work. In addition, the partnership plans to address issues related to gleaning, including how to scale operations to serve the food insecure while supporting farmers.

“The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems faculty, staff and students are committed to creating real-world tools for people and planet,” said CAFS Director Laurie Ristino. “We look forward to partnering not only with the National Agriculture Library but also with local and regional farms and land trusts to support sustainable agriculture.”

Sen. Leahy and Vermont Law School officials will meet at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, in front of Debevoise Hall on the VLS campus. For more information about the press conference, contact John Goodrow in Sen. Leahy’s office at 800-642-3193, [email protected]; or Maryellen Apelquist at VLS, 802-299-5593, [email protected].

The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School supports scholars and practitioners in producing practical, robust scholarship for use by the food and agriculture community. CAFS offers an expanding curriculum in food and agriculture for law and policy students, and training and legal tools to help build sustainable local and regional food systems. For more information about the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, visit