Farm Aid Resource Guide for Legal Issues in Farming


Photo: Carolina Farm Stewardship Association

Since Farm Aid’s inception in 1985, we’ve made farmers understanding their legal rights and access to legal services a priority. The resources below provide both services and information for a wide variety of agricultural legal issues.

Updated Spring 2016.


In the summer of 1985, Jim Massey received a phone call from Willie Nelson inviting him to attend the first Farm Aid concert. By the next spring, the first funding check from Farm Aid arrived in Jim’s office, signed by Willie Nelson himself, to start a nonprofit law firm with a single mission: Help family farmers stay on their land. It was an investment that helped create Farmers’ Legal Action Group, Inc.—FLAG.

FLAG offers comprehensive and practical resources for farmers on the following topics:

Advocacy | Alternative Energy | Appeals | Biotechnology/GMOs | Civil Rights | Conservation |Contracts | Credit | Disaster/Risk Management | Estate Planning | Farm Bill | Farmland Preservation | Food Safety | Labor and Employment | Marketing | Organic/Sustainable Farming |Tax

To speak with a lawyer, call the FLAG office at 651-223-5400. Let them know you heard about them from Farm Aid.


The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund protects family farmers through legal counseling, lobbying and litigation.


Farm and Food Legal Resources is a collection of online, existing legal resources compiled and organized by the Center for Agriculture & Food Systems at Vermont Law School. Resources are available for Farmers and Ranchers, Food Entrepreneurs, Attorneys and Advocates, Health Professionals, and Consumers. Under Farmers and Ranchers, you will find resources for a wide range of important topics:

Accounting and Taxation | Alternative and Renewable Energy | Aquaculture | Business Organization, Structure and Planning | Cottage Food Laws | Environmental and Land Use Regulation | Farm to Institution | Financing and Securities | Food Safety | Genetically Engineered Foods | Labor and Employment | Land Tenure and Access | Livestock and Animal Welfare | Marketing and Labeling | Risk Management and Insurance | Urban Agriculture


While the Pennsylvania State Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center does not provide legal services or advice, its website contains links to informative videos and articles on current topics in agricultural law:

“Ag-Gag” Laws/Farm Protection Laws | Antimicrobial Resistance | Agricultural Labor | Animal Identification | Animal Welfare | Biofuels | Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) | Chesapeake Bay | Climate Change | Country of Origin Labeling | Farm Bill | Food Safety | Food Security | GMO Labeling | Marcellus Shale Resource Area | Raw Milk | Urban Chickens | WTO/Doha Round Trade Talks


The National Agricultural Law Center provides free, up-to-date research publications on the following topics. These educational publications are intended to be informative, but the National Agricultural Law Center does not provide legal advice or counsel. The Agricultural Network Information Center reviews its website for accuracy every six months.

Administrative Law | Agricultural Leases | Agritourism | Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) |Animal Feeding Operations | Animal Law | Animal Identification | Aquaculture | Bankruptcy |Biotechnology | Business Organizations/Cooperatives | Clean Water Act | Commercial Transactions| Contracts and Leases | Corporate Farming Laws | Crop Insurance | Environmental Law | Estate Planning and Taxation | Farm Programs | Finance and Credit | Food Labeling | Food Safety |International Trade | Labor | Landowner Liability | Land Use | Livestock Marketing | Local Food Systems | Organic and Sustainable Agriculture | Perishable Agricultural Commodities | Pesticides| Renewable Energy | Rural Development | Secured Transactions | Specialty Crops| Urbanization and Agriculture | Water Law


The Drake University Agricultural Law Center publishes the only legal journal in the country that only focuses on agriculture. The Ag Law Center archives articles from this journal on its website. The site also contains an educational tool dedicated to manure agreement decision-making.


Farm Commons provides business legal services to farmers, creates useful legal education resources, and educates attorneys on issues relating to community-based farmers around the country. Through the Resources link, Farm Commons provides educational information focusing on different issues:

Land Use | Workers/Employees | Insurance and Liability | Sales and Contracts | Food Safety |Business Transfer | Tax


Mediation acts as a free or low-cost alternative to pursuing legal action, particularly in cases against the USDA and its associated agencies. Most states have Agriculture Mediation Programs in place for farmers. To find out more about mediation and to find out if a program is available in your state, visit this Resource Spotlight blog post for an in-depth look at mediation services.


The Public Justice Food Project is the only legal project in the country that is focused solely on dismantling the structures that enable the consolidation of corporate power and extractive practices in our food system and supporting a vision of animal agriculture that is regenerative, humane, and owned by independent farmers.

Not finding what you need? Request one-on-one assistance from our Farmer Services team, by filling out our Online Request for Assistance form or by calling 1-800-FARM-AID (1-800-327-6243). Farm Aid staff are happy to listen and help you however we can.

Also check out our Online Directory of farm service organizations, Resource Spotlight Blog and Farmer Hero stories for additional inspiration and ideas.

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