Every five or so years Congress passes omnibus legislation known as the “farm bill” authorizing a broad array of programs and services that shape virtually every aspect of the American food and agricultural systems. The farm bill grew out of Depression-era agricultural policies, and though it is regularly updated, many contend that contemporary farm bills fail 1) to provide adequate affordable and healthy food, 2) to sufficiently protect our environment, and 3) to meet the needs of low-income and minority communities.
Substantively engaging with the farm bill—and identifying viable steps toward reform—is difficult because the legislation is long, complex, and highly specialized. For this reason, FBLE brings together a variety of academic and clinical programs with expertise in food, agriculture, nutrition and the environment to provide research and recommendations that cut across traditional boundaries in order to promote the ideas proposed by expert organizations as well as seek novel solutions. In addition, FBLE provides law students throughout the country with research opportunities through the Food Law Student Network.
Harvard Law School, Food Law and Policy Clinic
The Food Law and Policy Clinic of Harvard Law School (FLPC), a division of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, was established in 2010 to link Harvard Law School students with opportunities to work with clients and communities on various food law and policy issues. The FLPC provides legal and policy guidance to a range of clients seeking to increase access to healthy foods, assist small and sustainable farmers in breaking into new commercial markets, and reduce waste of healthy, wholesome food, while educating law students about ways to use law and policy to impact the food system. The FLPC engages a strong policy orientation as well as substantive expertise in the food system to assist a range of federal, state, and local clients around the world in understanding the legal and policy regimes that apply to food production and sales.
Key Individuals: Emily Broad Leib, Lee Miller, Nicole Negowetti, Annika Nielsen
Harvard Law School, Environmental Law Program
The Harvard Law School Environmental Law Program (ELP) comprises the Environmental Policy Initiative and Emmett Environmental Law Clinic. The ELP engages in legal and policy projects encompassing a wide range of environmental issues. Projects have included conducting a 50-state survey of laws affecting the practice of “citizen science,” developing a paper with recommended best practices for testing household water for lead and identifying, and identifying and analyzing opportunities for municipalities to promote building operations with net zero emissions of greenhouse gases. The ELP seeks to address climate change issues and impacts that implicate and are implicated by many aspects of the farm bill.
Key Individuals: Wendy Jacobs, Shaun Goho
Harvard Law School, Health Law and Policy Clinic
The Harvard Law School Health Law and Policy Clinic (HLPC) is a division of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation (CHLPI). HLPC is committed to improving the health of vulnerable populations, including people living with HIV/AIDS. HLPC works on cutting-edge legislative, regulatory, and litigation projects at the state and national levels aimed at increasing access to quality, comprehensive health care for poor and low-income individuals and families. HLPC focuses on changing healthcare systems, educating on healthcare reform issues, and building and supporting coalition infrastructure and advocacy capacity among people living with HIV/AIDS and service providers.
Key Individuals: Sarah Downer, Katie Garfield
UCLA School of Law, Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy
The UCLA School of Law Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy is a think tank that seeks legal and policy solutions in support of a food system that yields improved health and sustainability outcomes. The Program publishes and disseminates legal scholarship and policy analysis on food issues, works on projects that shape the food system, and trains food law and policy leaders, scholars, and practitioners. In addition, the Program recently worked with the rest of the UCLA School of Law to launch a Food Law and Policy Clinic, aimed at bringing new legal services to organizations that are expanding healthy food access and improving food environments, as well as those that are engaged in supporting a transition to sustainable food production and distribution.
Key Individuals: Diana Winters, Allison Korn, Emilie Aguirre
Vermont Law School, Center for Agriculture and Food Systems
The Vermont Law School Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) aims both to train the next generation of food and agriculture advocates and entrepreneurs and to create innovative legal tools supporting the new food movement. A hub of advocacy innovation, CAFS collaborates with partners to produce legal tools that advance smart market and policy initiatives geared toward improving the food system and its impact on the environment, public health, local economies, food security and animal welfare. CAFS creates legal tools for an array of food system stakeholders, including farmers, food producers, food entrepreneurs, consumers, legislators, administrators and healthcare professionals.
Key Individual: Laurie Ristino
Yale Law School, Environmental Protection Clinic
The Yale Law School Environmental Protection Clinic (EPC) is an interdisciplinary clinic that addresses environmental law and policy problems on behalf of client organizations such as environmental groups, government agencies, and international bodies. The EPC covers a broad spectrum of environmental issues but houses two issue-specific programs: climate change and energy, and food and farming. The program on food and farming supports clients that work for an environmentally friendly, healthy, and just food system.
Key Individual: Josh Galperin
Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic
The Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic uses an interdisciplinary approach to work on a wide variety of environmental and public health matters. The Clinic serves non-profit organizations representing low-wealth communities throughout the United States and Africa, with a focus on clients serving the Southeastern United States. The Clinic has represented community organizations in cases that stopped large polluters from damaging their health and environment, recently preventing the construction of a Navy landing field and a large coal-burning cement kiln.
Key Individual: Michelle Nowlin
Pace University Elizabeth Haub School of Law, Food Law Initiative
The Pace University Food Law Initiative is a joint program of the Pace University Elisabeth Haub School of Law Environmental Law Program and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The Initiative seeks to address the direct legal service needs of food justice organizations, farmers, and food entrepreneurs by increasing capacity of the legal community to meet those needs through education of law students and training of lawyers. The Initiative aims both to provide legal services vital to transitioning to a more just and sustainable food system and to train a larger community of lawyers to understand food and agriculture issues. Furthermore, the Initiative recently launched a transactional food law clinic, aimed at serving some of the currently unmet legal needs of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regional food systems.
Key Individual: Margot Pollans
Our Shared Mission & Values
Our mission is to work toward a farm bill that reflects a thoughtful consideration of the long-term needs of our society, including economic opportunity and stability, public health and nutrition, public resources stewardship, and fair access and equal protection.
We accomplish this mission through joint research, analysis, and advocacy and by drawing on the experience of our members, collaboratively building deeper knowledge, and equipping the next generation of legal practitioners to engage with the farm bill.
Economic Opportunity and Stability, including access to capital, scale-appropriate risk management, market stability, and a viable livelihood for diverse production systems.
Public Health and Nutrition, including a robust and secure food supply that meets the present and future nutritional needs of all communities, improves population-level health, reduces inequalities, and prioritizes production of healthful foods.
Public Resources Stewardship, including agricultural production that preserves a vibrant agricultural sector, increases soil stability and fertility, promotes public health by preserving community resources such as safe drinking water and clean air, and mitigates and adapts to climate change.
Fair Access and Equal Protection, including opportunities in agriculture for all, enhanced competition and checks on concentrated power, equitable distribution of agriculture’s costs and benefits, and fair contracts and labor practices.