Marne Coit, Marylhurst UniversityMarne Coit, business faculty, published an article about legal issues around local food production in the most recent edition of the Drake Journal of Agricultural Law.

Marne Coit writes about Support for Local Food in the 2014 Farm Bill. In the introduction, Coit states “local foods have progressed—from a movement, to a viable sector of the agricultural economy.”

She points out the legal framework has evolved: “There are certainly more laws and policies specifically crafted with local food systems in mind than there were even six years ago. In addition, local food systems have enjoyed increasing support in terms of government programs and funding in recent years, and this trend continues to grow.”

Coit highlights the focus on local food production in the 2014 Farm Bill, including:

  • Exempting farmers’ markets from the retailer requirement to adopt electronic benefit transfer (EBT) equipment to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) payments electronically
  • Allowing SNAP participants to use benefits to purchase shares in Community-Supported Agricultural operations (CSAs)
  • Piloting a USDA program encouraging use of unprocessed fruits and vegetables by State Distributing Agencies (SDAs)
  • Extending the seniors’ farmers’ market nutrition program
  • Creating incentives for SNAP recipients to purchase fruits and vegetables
  • Expanding grant eligibility to local food production

In her conclusion, Coit observes that consumer demand for local food is expected to grow. In response, more suppliers will enter the market.

“Simultaneously, there are increasingly complex regulations and legal issues those local food producers and businesses will be required to follow,” she writes. “We need agricultural attorneys who are prepared to work with local food producers and businesses and to take on the unique challenges that present themselves for these clients and the valuable work that they are doing.”

Marne Coit teaches food law and policy in the MBA in Sustainable Business program at Marylhurst University. She is a founding partner of Greenfield Legal Services LLC, where she specializes in food and agricultural law and policy.