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Farm Commons

Duluth, United States
Joined August 2019

Farm Commons empowers farmers to recognize legal risks and opportunities, understand complex farm business law issues, and create solutions within an ecosystem of support.

Presence in: United States
Focus: Environmental Justice, Generalist Legal Services, Labor & Employment, Livelihoods

Our mission: Farm Commons provides the proactive legal resources that sustainable farmers need to become the stable, resilient foundation of a community-based food system.

The problem: Sustainable farms are more legally vulnerable than their commodity farm counterparts. Legal vulnerability impedes a farm’s ability to be stable and resilient. The increased legal vulnerability of sustainable farms occurs because the foundational legal framework of farm law was built for commodity farms. From employment law regulations, to insurance policies, to taxes and land leasing, farm law does not recognize the innovative practices and values of direct-to-consumer, organic, and small- to mid-sized farm operations. Current farm law endorses commodity-style farming, and leaves sustainable farm operations vulnerable to uncertainty as farmers, regulators, attorneys, legislators, and judges try to fit the square peg of sustainable farms into the round hole of farm law.

The Solution: Farm Commons empowers sustainable farmers to create authentic solutions to their own legal vulnerabilities. Farm Commons believes a core tenet of social change—nothing about us, without us—also applies to business law.

By empowering farmers to create their own solutions to fundamental legal issues they face, Farm Commons is restructuring business legal services into a “farm business law commons.” We are creating a business law commons because it offers a place for sustainable farmers to create, share, and access powerful legal tools for building stability and resiliency without paying high legal fees

People Associated With This Organization

Rachel Armstrong

United States  
Farm Commons
Joined August 2019
Interests: Environmental Justice, Generalist Legal Services, Labor & Employment, Livelihoods
As the founder and Executive Director of Farm Commons, Rachel Armstrong has led dozens of webinars and workshops for thousands of farmers nationwide and created the organization’s innovative approach to farm law risk reduction. Her vision for changing the way consumers experience business law been awarded with two fellowships: a 2012 Echoing Green Global Fellowship and a 2018 Ashoka Fellowship. As leading authority on direct to consumer farm law she has authored dozens of publications on farm law matters for farmers, alongside several academic and trade publications for attorneys. Ms. Armstrong instructs continuing legal education classes for the American Bar Association, teaches farm law for the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and is a co-author of "Farmers' Guide to Business Structures," published by Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education. A graduate of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and the University of Wisconsin Madison, she lives in Northern Minnesota. She is licensed to practice law in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

I am eager to connect with others who believe that those most affected by an issue are the ones who should create the solution- in business law and in any other matter of justice. I also look forward to learning new ways of empowering citizens around business law themes.
Rachel Armstrong is the network champion (main point of contact) for Farm Commons.

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