Thursday, March 29, 2018


Food Law Leaders Join the Farm Bill Fray

On March 29, 2018, the Farm Bill Law Enterprise (FBLE) released three reports that apply a justice lens to the farm bill debate underway on Capitol Hill. The reports are the product of a novel partnership between eight law school programs, including Yale Law School. FBLE’s reports coincide with the imminent release of draft farm bills in the House and Senate, which Congressional observers anticipate next month.

In addition to Yale Law School’s Environmental Protection Clinic, FBLE members include: Duke Law School Environmental Law & Policy Clinic; Harvard Law School Environmental Policy Initiative and Emmett Environmental Law and PolicyClinic; Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic; Harvard Law School Health Law and Policy Clinic; Pace University Elizabeth Haub School of Law Food Law Initiative; UCLA School of Law Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy; and Vermont Law School Center for Agriculture and Food Systems.

By combining expertise in food, public health, and environmental law, FBLE is the first effort of its kind. New farm bills only happen every five years. The current farm bill expires in September, and if Congress does not act by that deadline many important programs will no longer exist, according to Josh Galperin, Director of the Environmental Protection Clinic at Yale Law School and an author on FBLE’s reports.

“My colleages across the country and I realized that we all had interest in the farm bill, but it is so complex that no one of us could untangle it single handedly,” said Galperin. “Relying on academic experts and conferring with an array of farmers, as well as farm and food advocates, has given us a unique and uniquely comprehensive perspective.”

In addition to member programs, FBLE recruited law students from across the country to work on the project. In 2016, the newly-formed FBLE dove into collaborative research. Together, faculty and students analyzed each of the farm bill’s components, research that is available on the FBLE website. This research helped FBLE members develop shared goals for a farm bill that meets the long-term needs of our society. These goals include a reliable and nutritious food supply, an honest living for farmers, a healthy environment, and a strong safety net against hunger. FBLE’s reports make recommendations for how the next farm bill can begin to meet those goals by maintaining key programs that work, adding new programs, and redistributing funding in ways that are better for health, the environment and justice. Each report focuses on a specific theme: Diversified Agricultural Economies; Food Access, Nutrition and Public Health; and Productivity and Risk Management. Read report summaries here.

FBLE expects that their reports will convince more people to get involved. The reports can be found at www.FarmBillLaw.org, which will also track the bill’s progress over the coming months.

“These comprehensive reports are packed with recommendations that can improve our food system and result in a more equitable food policy,” said Alex Schluntz ’18, a contributor to the project and third year Yale Law School student. “The result of several years work by dozens of people, these reports and recommendations should prove to be an invaluable resource for legislators and policy makers, both with regards to the upcoming farm bill and in the years following.”

The Environmental Protection Clinic is an interdisciplinary clinic that addresses environmental law and policy problems on behalf of client organizations such as environmental groups, government agencies, and international bodies.