VOLUME 9 - 2016-2017 - ISSUE 2
9 Ky. J. Equine, Agric. & Nat. Resources L. 211 (2017).
COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE: HOW DO MARYLAND OPERATORS MANAGE LEGAL RISKS?
Article Written By: Paul Goeringer & Mayhah Suri
Many people interested in strengthening the connection between land, food, producer, and consumer have embraced community-supported agriculture (“CSA”), an alternative farming system increasingly popular in the United States. The CSA model was introduced in the United States by two Northeastern farms in 1986.1 Since then, CSA popularity has exploded, with over 12,500 CSA farms nationally, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture.2 The basic premise of the CSA model is that community members pledge support to a farm, and the farmer relies on this support instead of traditional financial venues. Though some farms accept volunteer labor, most CSA members purchase a share of the future produce at the beginning of the season. Members cover the farmers’ operational costs and receive periodic shares of the farm’s products, often vegetables and fruit.
This article will examine and compare some of the methodologies and results of CSA programs around the United States. Section II will look at California’s recent law that regulates what is considered a CSA and will evaluate voluntary state marketing programs, like Kentucky’s Kentucky Proud program, and how those programs could impact CSAs elsewhere. Section III.A will look at the methodology of how the surveys were conducted to determine in which CSA operators managed risk in their operations. CSA members’ perceptions on agreements were separately surveyed as well. Section III.B will highlight the results found in the two surveys. Section IV discusses the materials that developed out of the research conducted by the MDA. Finally, Section V will highlight the next steps in educating operators on better strategies to manage legal risks in CSAs.