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New Global Agriculture Center to Promote Working Landscapes

October 4, 2010

SOUTH ROYALTON, VT -- Vermont Law School will open a Center for Agriculture and Food Systems next spring to support advocates, agencies, food hubs, incubators and farmers engaged in the creation of community-based agriculture systems in the United States and internationally.

The new center will focus on legal and policy issues related to community-based agriculture, the regulation of food, the Farm Bill and agricultural subsidies, energy-efficient food production, energy independence for farmers and other issues key to retaining a successful working landscape for rural communities.

"Vermont Law School is the ideal place to initiate this effort," said Professor Marc Mihaly, director of VLS's Environmental Law Center. "Vermont is synonymous with the farming landscape and leads the nation in sophisticated efforts to implement a sustainable agricultural system."

The Agriculture Center, which will be modeled after VLS's highly successful Institute for Energy and the Environment, will build on recent efforts at the school. Those efforts include hosting a conference on "Food, Fuel, and the Future of Farming" that attracted more than 200 scholars, activists and farmers. VLS also convened a colloquium with the Northeast Organic Farming Association and Rural Vermont on farmers' market insurance issues. And VLS published The Farmer's Handbook for Energy Self-Reliance, which was distributed nationally to more than 4,000 farmers and more than a dozen farmers' forums.

In the spring, VLS will recruit a director for the Agriculture Center who has national experience to work with the school's environmental faculty and Summer Session faculty, many of whom have produced scholarship in this area. The center will be launched through the school's 2011 Sustainable Food Systems Summer Scholar program; a noted academic or practitioner will be selected to spend two weeks in Vermont to conduct research and participate in colloquia. Students from VLS's Agricultural Law Society will assist in the center's work; many are expected to join Vermont Law School alumni who work with organizations such as the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the Center for Food Safety, and the Vermont Department of Agriculture.

CONTACT: John Cramer, Associate Director of Media Relations
802-831-1106, jcramer@vermontlaw.edu

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