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Ben Tettlebaum, Rhodes Fellow & Attorney, Farm & Food Initiative, Conservation Law Foundation.

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Presentation on theme: "Ben Tettlebaum, Rhodes Fellow & Attorney, Farm & Food Initiative, Conservation Law Foundation."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ben Tettlebaum, Rhodes Fellow & Attorney, Farm & Food Initiative, Conservation Law Foundation

2 Context for Legal Services Food Hub of surveyed farmers, use legal services of small businesses in other industries use legal services ??? % 70% ??? % 10%

3 Mission To provide pro bono legal assistance to farmers, food entrepreneurs, and related organizations in order to foster a sustainable, resilient, and just food system.

4 Transactional Law Issues Transferring the family farm to the next generation Negotiating a livestock purchase agreement Helping a farmers’ market become an LLC Providing legal assistance to create an urban community garden Negotiating a joint venture arrangement with potential investors Advising on intellectual property, patents, and trademarks

5 Whom Do We Help? The client must be one of the following: Farmer Food Entrepreneur Related Organization

6 Farmer An individual, group of individuals, or enterprise located in Maine that predominantly produces agricultural products for sale to the public for food for people.

7 Food Entrepreneur An individual, group of individuals, or enterprise located in Maine that processes, distributes, aggregates, stores, or markets food or value- added products.

8 Farm/Food Related Organization EITHER a nonprofit operating in Maine whose primary purpose is to support Farmers or Food Entrepreneurs OR a community group or association operating in Maine whose mission is to address social justice issues related to the food system.

9 Eligibility Criteria: Income Cap The farm or food enterprise’s annual net income must not exceed $30,000. The Farmer or Food Entrepreneur’s annual household income must not exceed 400% of the Federal Poverty Limit. Floor: Farmer or Food Entrepreneur revenue of $5,000 in previous tax year OR just began farm or food business in the last three years. *** The gross sales requirement and household income cap do not apply to Farm/Food Organizations.

10 Behind the Income Cap Modeled after the USDA’s Limited Resource Farmer definition. The criteria are designed to capture lower-income Farmers and Food Entrepreneurs. Not as restrictive as Federal legal services program income criteria; modified to serve small businesses.

11 How It Works

12 Cases  Farmer runs a CSA of mostly fruits and veggies, and sells some produce wholesale.  Legal Needs: Leases the property from the Town of Charleton. Encountered issues complying with the parameters of an Agricultural Preservation Restriction on the land. The Hub matched the farmer with a lawyer to represent him in his discussions/negotiations with Mass. Dep’t of Ag. Resources and Town officials. Fay Mountain Farm

13 Cases  Permanent, year-round market featuring fresh locally-sourced food. Center. Keeps vendor rents to a minimum. The year ‐ one rent package includes all facility services, marketing and advertising, and the ability to be in a larger branded marketplace. Once open, the Boston Public Market will be the only locally sourced market of its kind in the United States. All products offered will either originate in New England or be produced here.  Legal Needs: Needed assistance with their vendor leases and with their own commercial lease with the Department of Transportation. Boston Public Market Association

14 Cases  Grows edible and medicinal mushrooms year round in South Chatham, MA. Sell at farmers’ markets and wholesale to restaurants and supermarkets, including Whole Foods. Holds educational courses to teach others the process of growing mushrooms.  Sought to merge with another LLC that would take care of the marketing needs. Nantucket Mushrooms, LLC, needed an attorney to help review a document and help negotiate a successful merger. Nantucket Mushrooms, LLC

15 Cases  Nonprofit organization with a mission to increase local meat consumption in southeastern Mass.  Sought 501(c)(6) status and needed to speak with a lawyer to make sure that it could funnel foundation funds through a fiscal sponsor as a 501(c)(6). Southeastern Mass Livestock Association (SEMALA)

16 Additional Components Collaboration Education: Workshops and Trainings for lawyers for farmers

17 Massachusetts Pilot: June 2014 Launch in Maine: May 2015

18 Questions & Feedback

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