by Ben Tettlebaum
Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) is thrilled to announce the launch of our Legal Services Food Hub in Maine. The Legal Services Food Hub is a free legal services clearinghouse for farmers, food entrepreneurs, and food-related organizations. CLF piloted the Hub in Massachusetts starting in 2014. Thanks to its great success there, we are now running the Hub in Maine, with plans to expand it to every state in New England. Our cases focus primarily on transactional issues, such as land acquisition/transfer, estate issues, taxes, contracts, and entity formation, among others. We are already working with over 20 cases in Maine involving farmers, food entrepreneurs, and non-profit farm and food organizations.
Participants range from refugees working to stake out a new life farming to a couple who has been farming for 30 years and is looking to ensure the next generation can continue their organic farm business; from a farmer growing apples and making hard cider to a hunger-relief organization hoping to let farmers use their kitchen as a shared space; from a family breeding heritage hogs on a biodynamic farm to a young woman scraping by to start a farm on land her great-grandfather farmed. The stories are as rich as the land from which they rise.
The Hub’s growing network of attorneys currently includes 28 firms and lawyers, from the largest firm in the state to small partnerships and solo practitioners. The Massachusetts and Maine Hubs combined have already leveraged over $100,000 in legal assistance.
To ensure that these free services are going to those most in need, participating farmers and food entrepreneurs are subject to an income cap: the annual net income of the business must not exceed $30,000, and the applicant’s household income must not exceed 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. Additionally, the business must have grossed at least $3,000 in the previous year or just started operating in the last three years.
Please call the Maine Legal Services Food Hub Coordinator with any questions at (207) 228-2730, or visit our website to learn more at www.legalservicesfoodhub.org.