University of Vermont

Vermont Family Farm Succession

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A Legal Guide to the Business of Farming in Vermont

About the Guide

The Legal Guide to the Business of Farming in Vermont was a 2006 project led by Debra Heleba with funding from the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education and the USDA Risk Management Agency. It was written primarily by Randolph attorney Annette Higby with contributions by several other Vermont professionals.

The Guide consists of nine chapters addressing: the legal structure of the farm business; farm transfer and estate planning; farmland tenure and leasing; and regulation of agriculture and land use, farm labor, organic agriculture, and on-farm food processing and marketing. It got its roots from The Legal Terrain section of "Tilling the Soil of Opportunity," a business planning course for farmers. Questions posed by Tilling participants informed an initial course and eventually formed the core of the guide's contents.

The Guide was intended to be used as a reference tool used by service providers to develop case specific checklists and to identify areas that need additional research or technical assistance.

Please note: The guide was published in 2006 and therefore some information may not be current. Farmers and service providers should not use this guide as a substitute for legal advice. Instead, it is a useful resource when developing a list of questions for an attorney, accountant, or farm service provider. Farmers may also use it to identify and address issues that need to be included in the farm's business plan or to become better informed consumers of legal or farm viability services.

To Access the Guide

The Guide is provided in a PDF format on-line.

Click here to access the Legal Guide in its entirety.

Legal Guide by Chapter:

Last modified March 14 2014 10:39 AM