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Vermont Law School Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) Add to Collection
(802) 831-1230
164 Chelsea Street PO Box 96
South Royalton, Vermont 05068

The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) has a dual mission: to develop the next generation of sustainable food and agriculture law and policy leaders while providing legal and policy resources and solutions for citizens to build and support such systems. CAFS' approach to progressing sustainable agriculture and food systems is systems-based, as our name implies. We believe that in order to truly foster sustainable agriculture and food, we need to understand the connections these systems have to the environment, energy, human and animal health, labor, and climate change.


Name Title Phone
Laurie Ristino
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Professor Ristino joined the Vermont Law School faculty in 2013. She is the first director of the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, responsible for CAFS vision and direction, including curriculum development, teaching, outreach, and advocacy. Before joining VLS, Professor Ristino was a senior counsel with the Office of the General Counsel, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, D.C. for twenty years. At the USDA, she advised the Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Department on environmental and natural resources legal policy issues. She is an expert on the conservation title of the farm bill, and advised on the implementation of the 2002 and 2008 farm bills, as well as the run-up to the 2013 farm bill.
Rebecca Milaschewski
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McKenna Hayes
(802) 578 1025 Add to Collection
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I am a local and native Vermonter, pursuing my Master's degree in Food and Agricultural Law and Policy at Vermont Law School. My academic pursuits of environmental issues began at the University of Vermont (UVM), where I studied Public Communications, Economics, and Environmental Studies. Following graduation, I began work in varying sectors of the food industry. My most recent position was as Coordinator for the Responsible Retailing Department of AholdUSA, a national grocery retailer owning over 800 grocery stores under regional banners such as Stop & Shop, Giant, and Peapod. In this position, I learned about the inner workings of our conventional food system, and came to understand that this system is not sustainable on a global scale. To deepen my knowledge of the laws and policies that impact our food systems, I applied for and was accepted into the Vermont Law School’s (VLS) Masters of Food and Agricultural Law and Policy. I have nearly completed the degree requirements and will graduate in the fall. Throughout the course of my studies, my focus has been on strengthening the policies related to local food systems such as permitting, zoning, licensing, and land-use planning; all of which has prepared me for the role of Food Systems Coordinator. As a native Vermonter, I grew up with access to a diverse and robust local food system. However, for many communities the disconnect between what they eat and where it comes from has never been so wide. I am committed to developing innovative solutions to bridge this disconnect. I believe that the Farm to Plate Initiative and Strategic Plan is an innovative and inclusive approach to foster the sustainable growth of our local food systems. I am joining this network because I truly believe in the mission and goals of the Farm to Plate Initiative, and I want to be a part of the cutting-edge work and conversation taking place in our amazing state. I know I can greatly contribute to this conversation, but more importantly I want to learn from the diverse array of parties involved in this work and develop my perception of our local agricultural and food systems.
Sarah Seese
304-216-3411 Add to Collection
Lihlani Skipper
(802) 831-1063 Add to Collection
Whitney Shields
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Emily Spiegel
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legal education, policy tools, education, sustainable agriculture research, legal research, food publications, food law publications, agriculture publications, agriculture law publications, food labeling resources, farm-to-school legislation info, webinars