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Vermont Law School Names Senior USDA Attorney as First Director of Center for Agriculture and Food Systems

October 10, 2012

SOUTH ROYALTON, Vt. -- Vermont Law School announced Wednesday that Laurie Ristino, a senior attorney and administrator at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has been selected as the first director of VLS's Center for Agriculture and Food Systems.

Ristino, who will also serve as an associate professor of law, was selected after a national search.Image of Laurie Ristino

"As the nation's top-ranked environmental law school, we're excited to have Laurie join our team and are confident she will advance the Center's goals of advocating for community-based agriculture in Vermont, New England and across the United States," said President and Dean Marc Mihaly.

The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, which was created last year as a result of an anonymous gift, is developing a comprehensive program in agriculture and food policy. Its mission is to promote economically and environmentally sustainable agriculture and food systems through legal and policy research and scholarship; to provide public education and technical legal assistance; and to educate the next generation of scholars, practitioners and advocates.

Ristino is a senior counsel with the Office of the General Counsel at the USDA in Washington, D.C., where she advises the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Forest Service on a host of legal issues.  A national  expert in the conservation and preservation of American working lands, she has advised the USDA on conservation program implementation under the 2002 and 2008 farm bills and has been advising on the 2012 farm bill development. She also is a professorial lecturer in law at George Washington University Law School, where she teaches a course that explores the critical need to develop sustainable American food systems.

Ristino described her vision for the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems as serving three important roles: education, engagement, and advocacy. "Given Vermont Law School's location in a progressive agricultural state with access to leading thinkers in the environment and agriculture, the Center is in a unique position to provide service to the Vermont community, while contributing nationally to sustainable agriculture and food systems law and policy," she said. "This is the right time to be engaging in food and agriculture issues given the unprecedented public interest in this area and the undeniable need for safe and sustainable food for the world."

More information about the Center is available at

CONTACT:   John Cramer, Associate Director of Media Relations, Vermont Law School

 Office: 802-831-1106, cell: 540-798-7099, home: 802-649-2235,

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