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USDA Increases Grant Funding to Nearly $1.5 Million for Innovative National Food Policy and Law Projects at Vermont Law School

SOUTH ROYALTON, Vt., Oct. 5, 2015––The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) at Vermont Law School recently received an additional $728,274 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Library (NAL) to support innovative legal resources for farmers, food entrepreneurs, researchers and policymakers, CAFS announced today. The grant increase brings CAFS’ total USDA funding to $1,487,274, and enables the center to develop “FoodWorks: State and Local Food Policy Innovations” in partnership with the Public Health Law Center at William Mitchell College of Law and the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut.

FoodWorks partners will identify and disseminate policy initiatives and programs that improve access to healthy food, support local communities economically, and foster improved environmental outcomes. The project, funded through Aug. 31, 2019, is one of several resources in development between CAFS and NAL.

“The faculty, staff and students at our Center for Agriculture and Food Systems are committed to creating real-world tools for people and planet, and we are thankful for the USDA funding and National Agricultural Library support that enable us to continue this vital work,” said Laurie Ristino, director of CAFS. “We look forward to partnering with the Public Health Law Center at William Mitchell College of Law and the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at UConn as we develop legal resources that foster healthier food systems for all Americans.”

Specifically, FoodWorks partners will develop case studies, infographics, sample policies and other resources to support broad adoption of promising food policy innovations at the local and state level. These resources will be made widely available, both on partner websites and at the National Agricultural Library.

“The communities we work with are eager to learn about thoughtful, practical strategies that support and promote healthy food in a holistic way,” said Doug Blanke, director of the Public Health Law Center. “We see a lot of innovative policy at both the state and local level across the U.S., and we are excited to be able to elevate these examples and help change the conversations about healthy food policy.”

“We are excited about this partnership with the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems and the Public Health Law Center,” said Dr. Jennifer Harris, director of marketing initiatives for the Rudd Center. “The UConn Rudd Center legislative tracking database has become an important tool for policymakers and food policy advocates, and this innovative partnership will increase its impact and provide important new resources for improving the food environment and the health of our communities.”

In addition to FoodWorks, CAFS developed the National Gleaning Project and currently is developing legal tools for farmland tenure at its Food and Agriculture Clinic, both with the support of NAL. Future projects include a “How to Use a Lawyer” guide and an automated “Farmland Lease Assistant” for farmers.

The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School is the most comprehensive agriculture, food and environmental law program in the nation, emphasizing systems-based problem-solving and entrepreneurial innovation. CAFS supports scholars and practitioners by producing practical, robust scholarship for use by the food and agriculture community. For more information about the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, including current projects, visit, email, or call 802-831-1287.

The Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut is a nonprofit research and public policy organization devoted to promoting solutions to childhood obesity, poor diet, and weight bias through research and policy. The Rudd Center serves as a leader in building broad-based consensus to change diet and activity patterns, while holding industry and government agencies responsible for safeguarding public health. Rudd’s multidisciplinary team consists of experts in research design and development, economics, law, nutrition, communications, and advocacy. The center serves as a leading research institution and clearinghouse for resources in the areas of school nutrition, food and beverage marketing to children and youth, food assistance programs, health-related legislative tracking, and healthy drinks policy development.

The Public Health Law Center at William Mitchell College of Law in Saint Paul, Minn., helps community leaders use law to improve America’s health. The center focuses on policies that support healthy eating, encourage physical activity and reduce tobacco use. The center’s food systems work ranges from support for creation of small-town farmers markets, to helping develop Food Policy Councils, to improving institutional nutrition standards, to commenting on food-related regulatory proposals. The center has developed more than 150 print and electronic resources on food law and policy.

Vermont Law School, a private, independent institution, is home to the nation’s largest and deepest environmental law program. VLS offers a Juris Doctor curriculum that emphasizes public service; three Master’s Degrees—Master of Environmental Law and Policy, Master of Energy Regulation and Law, and Master of Food and Agriculture Law and Policy; and four post-JD degrees —LLM in American Legal Studies (for foreign-trained lawyers), LLM in Energy Law, LLM in Environmental Law, and LLM in Food and Agriculture Law. The school features innovative experiential programs and is home to the Environmental Law Center, South Royalton Legal Clinic, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, Energy Clinic, Food and Agriculture Clinic, and Center for Applied Human Rights. For more information, visit, find us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.