Upcoming Free Legal Webinars for Farmers:

This winter, Farm Commons will offer free webinars on legal issues for farmers who market their product directly to consumers.

Farm Commons  - weeding farm employeeDirect-to-consumer farmers are building a new food system, but farmers and advocates alike often don’t realize the unique laws and regulations that affect these unique farm operations. Addressing these potential issues before problems grow is essential to the growth of a stable, resilient community of farmers. The line-up addresses the legal needs of beginning and established farmers alike and ranges across the many ways farmers are selling product and connecting with customers.

Farm Commons provides fast-paced webinars that help farmers move forward. The webinars break down legal concepts into actionable steps. Although not specific to state laws, they will help farmers figure out when they have an issue and how to begin resolving it.

  • January 13: Hosting On-Farm Events
  • January 28: Workers and Employees
  • February 10: Selling Products to Larger Buyers
  • February 25: Starting a Farm
  • March 10: Adding Value to Farm Products
  • March 25: Food Safety Liability and Regulations

Webinars are scheduled in the evening to be accessible to farmers with field work or a day job. Farmers with no or a slow internet connection will be able to join by phone. Questions are welcome and there will be plenty of time for discussion after the presentation. Each webinar will be recorded and available for later viewing. See below for complete description of each webinar.  (Note, all times are listed in Central Standard time zone.)

Farm Commons - hungry cowYou can learn more and register at www.farmcommons.org/webinars.

Farm Commons is a nonprofit organization that provides the legal resources sustainable farmers need to become the stable, resilient foundation of a community-based food system. For more information, contact Rachel Armstrong at Rachel@farmcommons.org or (608) 616-5319.

Hosting On-farm Events – January 13, 2014, 6pm CST

On-farm events are a great way to build support in the community. And, they’re a lot of fun! But as the saying goes, it’s always fun until someone loses an eye. Make sure your farm isn’t left with the short end of the stick after a good-intentioned event goes bad. From zoning compliance to guest injuries and serving prepared food, we’ll work through a checklist of things a farm should address before hosting an event.

Workers and Employees – January 28, 2014, 6pm CST

Farming is a lot of work, and help is often needed. Should a farm work with volunteers, trade labor for food, or hire employees? This webinar will explore the options and guide farmers through the legal considerations. Checklists, flowcharts, and model documents will help attendees move forward after they’ve decided on the best approach for their farm.

Selling Products to Larger Buyers – February 10, 2014, 6pm CST

Now that hospitals, food service operations, and grocery stores have caught on to the merits of local food, farmers are learning how to work with these operations. A good relationship between buyer and seller is key to making these sales worthwhile. Learn how the right sales agreement can help keep everyone happy. Also, learn how to protect the farm business if the relationship goes south.

Starting a Farm – February 25, 2014, 6pm CST

A beginning farmer has to find financing, lease or buy land, coordinate equipment, establish a website, and so much more, all while growing crops or raising livestock. The legal issues abound, but this webinar will help beginning farmers understand the fundamental issues that should demand attention while the farm gets started.

Adding Value to Farm Products – March 10, 2014, 6pm CDT

Although starting a processing operation, improving packaging, and developing new products are great ways to make the farm more profitable, these activities have a huge legal impact. Employment laws, liability potential, state/federal regulations, and tax factors all change when a farm begins to process product. Farms relying on cottage food laws should make sure to attend- we’ll talk about what these laws do not do to protect farms.

Food Safety Liability and Regulations – March 25, 6pm CDT

We’ve been hearing all about the upcoming regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act. But, as important as it is, farm liability for food safety goes beyond this new law. Learn all the latest on how farms can comply with the FSMA as it goes into effect and how they can protect their operations from liability in general.

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