Options for Forming a Social Enterprise

As a farmer or food entrepreneur, you may want to create a successful business while also working for social good. In a social enterprise, these goals go hand-in-hand. In this webinar, we’ll discuss the details of a social enterprise. And, we will talk about the advantages and disadvantages of common business structures that can be the foundation for your social enterprise (sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, corporations, co-ops, and non-profits).

Presenters: Colin Antaya, Esq. and Kohei Ishihara Founder of Movement Ground Farm

Opening Your Farm to Visitors and Controlling for Liability

From farm dinners to CSA pick-ups, and from Airbnb to educational programs, you might open your farm to friends, neighbors, and even tourists. As you welcome visitors to your farm, you need to be ready to handle the myriad of risks that they bring with them. Join us to receive practical advice from an agritourism expert, an insurance agent, and an attorney. Each will provide you with tools to prepare for the worst and enjoy the best.

Presenters: Attorney Mary Rose Scozzafava; Stuart Farnham, AFIS Vice President of Frazer Insurance Agency, Inc.; Lisa Chase, University of Vermont Agritourism Expert

Hiring Your First Farm Employees

Congratulations! Your farm business has grown, and you are in dire need of hiring some help. Enter employment law – specifically, agricultural employment law. Join our one-hour webinar to learn the general laws that you are required to follow as an agricultural employer. We will cover important pay considerations, how to get employees properly set up, and best practices to avoid discrimination lawsuits. After this session, you will feel confident to make your first hires.

Presenter: Attorney John S. Gannon, Skoler-Abbott LLC.

Resolving Challenging Issues through Agricultural Mediation

Sometimes, as a farmer, you find yourself stuck or facing a conflict. Whether your business has been threatened, a creditor is hounding you, or a neighbor is making complaints about your farm, you are not alone. The USDA’s certified Agricultural Mediation programs can help you through these situations.

The mediation program is a free service that gives all voices an opportunity to be heard and work together toward a solution that works for everyone. In this webinar, you will have a chance to meet Agricultural mediators in New England. They will give you an overview of the program and share some stories that illustrate the effectiveness of their work.

Presenter: Matt Strassberg, Director of the Environmental Mediation Center

Understanding Purchase and Sale Agreements

A purchase and sale agreement is the document that establishes the steps of the transaction, as well as the responsibilities of the Seller and the Buyer. Purchasing real estate can seem like a complicated process but we will walk you through it.

During this webinar, Massachusetts attorney Richard Cavanaugh of Common Grow, LLC will discuss typical provisions in a purchase and sale agreement. He will also cover some other issues – like zoning and wetland restrictions – that you should consider when deciding whether or not to buy a property.

Presenter: Attorney Rich Kavanaugh, Common Grow LLC.

Buying the Farm – Part I

Farmers can obtain rights to farmland in a variety of ways, for example, by entering into a lease with the owner of the farmland, sharing ownership of the land with others, or acquiring full ownership (“fee simple” title) of the farmland. Part I of this Guide focuses on:

(i) the different types of land ownership,

ii) the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing the farmland directly through fee simple ownership, and

(iii) considerations when locating the right farmland to purchase.

Buying the Farm – Part II

Once a deal has been negotiated, a farmer works with the land owner to buy farmland for the agreed-upon purchase price. Part II of this Guide focuses on

(i) the elements of a Purchase and Sale Agreement,

ii) the investigation “due diligence” process that every farmer should undertake,

(iii) the deed and other acquisition closing documents, and

(iv) the closing.

Vermont’s Current Use Program

This legal guide provides a brief overview of Vermont’s Current Use Program—a state program designed to keep taxes on working lands affordable so long as land is being used for active agricultural purposes. The guide includes a high-level summary of the Program, including:

  • Eligibility requirements for enrolling
  • Steps for applying
  • How to maintain enrolled status and how to withdraw from the Program
  • How to transfer ownership of enrolled land

Decidir la estructura apropriada para su negocio

Seleccionar una estructura de negocios es una de las primeras decisiones a tomar cuando se comienza con un negocio agrícola o de alimentos. La estructura que usted escoge influencia las operaciones del día a día, cómo pagará los impuestos e inclusive cuánto de sus posesiones personales está en riesgo. Esta Guía Relámpago les muestra  a los agricultores y negociantes de alimentos cómo diferenciar los tipos de estructuras de negocios. Usted aprenderá sobre:

  • propiedades individuales,
  • sociedades generales,
  • compañías de responsabilidad limitada (LLCs), y
  • corporaciones.

La guía compara los requerimientos para la formación de negocios, responsabilidades e impuestos por pagar para las diferentes estructuras. Use esta guía útil para comenzar su exploración de la estructura de negocios más apropiada para usted.

Exenciones de responsabilidad para actividades agrícolas dentro de la finca

Las fincas frecuentemente son anfitrionas de actividades que atraen visitas a la finca, como visitas de escuelas a la finca, días de voluntariado y agroturismo. Dichos eventos ofrecen oportunidades valorables para incrementar ingresos y hacer crecer el alcance al público sobre la finca. Pero, los accidentes pasan — particularmente a los visitantes que no están familiarizados con los peligros que generalmente se encuentran en una finca. A los agricultores frecuentemente se les aconseja que pidan a sus visitantes que firmen un documento de exención de responsabilidad. Pero ¿Cómo es que un documento de exención de responsabilidad puede reducir la responsabilidad legal de una finca? ¿Pueden reducir el riesgo de responsabilidad de la finca y posibles demandas en contra de la finca si un visitante tiene un accidente? Esta guía legal discute cómo utilizar los documentos de exención de responsabilidad, lo que éstos pueden lograr, y qué debe incluirse en un documento de exención de responsabilidad bien redactado.

Lo básico de los impuestos sobre el salario

Las reglas que gobiernan los impuestos sobre el salario pueden ser complicadas. Los impuestos sobre el salario generalmente son calculados como un porcentaje del salario del empleado. Las fincas que emplean a trabajadores, deben retener dinero de los cheques de pago de sus empleados, emitir dichas cantidades retenidas a las autoridades de impuestos apropiadas, y declarar los impuestos sobre el salario a las agencias federales y estatales. Esta guía hace un esquema sobre qué son los impuestos sobre el salario y cómo y dónde pagarlos. Después de leer esta guía usted sabrá:

  • ¿qué son los impuestos sobre el salario y quién es responsable de los pagos?
  • las especificaciones de los diferentes tipos de impuestos sobre el salario
  • las exenciones especiales dadas a los empleados en agricultura

Selling Farm Products Through Online Food Hubs

In response to market changes, many local farmers have started selling their farm products directly to customers through local food hubs. Farm produce and local value-added products go right from the farmer, cook or baker to a delivery hub where orders are assembled and prepared for delivery or pick-up. Before you sell your products through a local food hub, you need to understand what may be required of you. This legal guide discusses:

• Pros and cons of participating in a food hub
• Vendor agreements with a local food hub

Running a Farmer Operated Food Hub

In response to market changes, many local farmers have started selling their farm products directly to customers through other farmers. Farm produce and local value-added products go right from the farmer, cook or baker to another farmer or business where orders are assembled and prepared for delivery or pick-up. This model is generally known as a food hub. If you are considering setting up a local food hub, this guide outlines the following legal considerations to keep in mind:

• Forming a separate entity
• Terms and conditions of agreements between farmers or vendors
• When a warehouse license must be obtained
• Collecting sales tax
• When a 1099-K must be issued

Home Delivery of Farm Products

Local farmers are adjusting their business operations to incorporate new ways of getting their products to customers and seizing the opportunity to add new marketing channels to their existing farm businesses. For many farmers, this shift has meant delivering products directly to the doors of their customers. If you are a farmer engaged or considering engaging in home delivery of farm products, this guide outlines some legal considerations to keep in mind.

Introducción a la ley de cultivo

Esta guía es un resumen de problemas legales importantes que un agricultor en Massachusetts debe conocer. Incluye información sobre:

  • Cuándo se debe trabajar con un abogado
  • Cómo crear una estructura de negocios
  • Cómo acceder a tierras agrícolas a través del alquiler o la compra
  • Las consideraciones a tomar cuando se hace un borrador y cuando se firma un contrato
  • Algunas de las consideraciones de impuestos para los agricultores

Esta guía provee un esquema básico sobre los problemas legales a considerar para su finca/ tierras agrícolas. Es un punto para comenzar a pensar en ciertos tipos de asuntos. Esta guía no constituye consejo legal y usted debe contactar a un abogado si usted tiene alguna pregunta sobre estos temas.

Le animamos a buscar ayuda legal si usted tiene preguntas o preocupaciones acerca de cómo cualquiera de estos problemas discutidos se aplica en sus operaciones individuales. Usted puede comenzar por contactar al Centro Legal de Alimentos (Legal Food Hub), donde proveen asistencia legal gratuita para aquellos agricultores que sean elegibles a través de legalfoodhub@clf.org o llamando a 1-844-LAW GROW. Para aprender más sobre el Centro Legal de Alimentos, visite  www.legalfoodhub.org .

Employment Rules for Agricultural Workers in MA

Agricultural work is treated differently from other types of employment under the law; however, it is sometimes difficult to what qualifies as agricultural work.  This guide is intended to help Massachusetts farmers determine what is agricultural work, what is not, and why it matters.  You will learn:

  • What is Agricultural Work in Massachusetts
  • Minimum wage and overtime rules for agricultural employees
  • Minimum wage and overtime rules for regular employees

FSMA Inspections: What Growers Need to Know

Sara Dewey and Mary Rose Scozzafava of the Conservation Law Foundation review the Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule and what it will mean for Massachusetts farmers. Topics include: what is the produce safety rule, how does it relate to the Commonwealth Quality Program, and what inspections will look like for farmers in 2020.

Urban Agriculture in the City of Boston

Did you know that Boston has an ordinance that covers urban farming?  Article 89 is part of the Boston land zoning laws.  It covers urban agriculture activities in Boston such as farming, hydroponics and beekeeping and more.  The City of Boston prepared this guide to demystify the language of the actual rule.  After reading this guide, you will have a better understanding of:

  • the rules covering land use and permitting requirements
  • the permitted location and size of ground-level farms, roof-top farms and freight farms
  • soil safety guidelines for urban farming
  • keeping bees and chickens.

Massachusetts Chapter 61 Tax Program

Chapter 61 programs offer a property tax break for landowners willing to keep their land undeveloped for a specified period of time. This guide provides all you need to know about the Massachusetts Chapter 61 Tax program.  After reading this guide, you will know:

  • description of Chapter 61 programs in forestry, agriculture and open space
  • minimum acreage to qualify for the program
  • types of land eligible for the Chapter 61 programs
  • tax benefits of the Chapter 61 programs
  • what happens if you withdraw from the program

This informative guide was prepared by University of Massachusetts Extension.


Interns, Apprentices and Volunteers-Rhode Island

Many people are curious about what happens at a farm and would be happy to volunteer a few hours of labor in return for the experience of farming.  Others would be willing to work as an unpaid intern in order to gain valuable knowledge and farm skills.  The prospect of free labor is appealing.  But is it legal? Do you understand the distinction between registered apprentices, paid and unpaid interns and volunteers?  This Legal Brief summarizes the legal requirements for these workers under Rhode Island law. 

FAQs About the Produce Safety Rule

The Produce Safety Rule (PSR) imposes new requirements on farms to ensure the safety of produce consumed by humans. But New England farms tend to be small and to sell directly to consumers. Therefore, New England farms are more likely to be exempt from the Produce Safety Rule or eligible for a Qualified Exemption.  Qualified Exemption limits the obligations of a farm under the Produce Safety Rule. This Lightning Guide answers questions small farmers may have about the Produce Safety Rule.

Employment Law Guide for Rhode Island Farmers

Farmers have a lot to consider when bringing on employees. This guide for Rhode Island farmers takes you step by step through the key areas of law you need to understand when hiring on farm. It is a great starting place for farmers looking to understand the rules of the road.

Employment Law Guide for Massachusetts Farmers

Farmers have a lot to consider when bringing on employees. This guide for Massachusetts farmers takes you step by step through the key areas of law you need to understand when hiring on farm. It is a great starting place for farmers looking to understand the rules of the road.

Is your Farm Apprenticeship Legal?

What do farmers need to know to legally bring on a farm apprentice? The laws governing apprenticeships can be complicated, and it is important for farmers to understand how to comply with wage and hour laws. Andrew Dennington, a partner at Conn Kavanaugh in Boston, presents on this important topic in a recording from the NOFA/Mass winter conference in 2018.