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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Free legal aid to struggling farmers

By Steve Ahlquist in Rhode Island’s Future

Image result for struggling family farmersThe Conservation Law Foundation(CLF) announced the creation of the Rhode Island Legal Food Hub, a free legal services clearinghouse for farmers, food entrepreneurs and related organizations.

Sumana Chintapalli, a CLF Legal Fellow/Attorney is the coordinator of the RI Legal Food Hub.
Legal services are so expensive that some farmers go proceed without such services, putting their business at risk or they pay too much for legal services, harming other aspects of their business.

To help solve this problem Chintapalli will work to pair farmers and food entrepreneurs with free legal aid from a stock of volunteer lawyers.

Not-for-profit orgs with farmer and food entrepreneur as members and community groups with a mission of social justice issues related to the food system may also qualify.

Chintapalli explained that to qualify for free legal services a farmer’s net annual income may not exceed $30 thousand and annual household income may not exceed 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

About 95 percent of farms in Rhode Island would qualify under this cap, estimates Chintapalli.


CLF provided a list of potential cases a Legal Food Hub may take on, including, but not limited to:
  • Transfering the family farm to the next generation
  • Helping a farmer’s market become an LLC
  • Providing legal assistance to create an urban community garden
  • Negotiating a joint venture arrangement with potential investors
  • Advising on intellectual property, patents and trademarks

Those wishing to access the service as well as lawyers interested in volunteering can contact the LegalFood Hub by phone at 844-LAW-GROW or by email at legalfoodhub@clf.org

Steve Ahlquist is an award-winning journalist, writer, artist and founding member of the Humanists of Rhode Island, a non-profit group dedicated to reason, compassion, optimism, courage and action. The views expressed are his own and not necessarily those of any organization of which he is a member. atomicsteve@gmail.com or Twitter: @SteveAhlquist

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