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Monday, December 02, 2013
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Legal Structures for Just and Sustainable Food Systems

By Guest Author, Jena Clarke, Yale F&ES '15

This week, the Frontiers in Food and Agriculture webinar series features Janelle Orsi, who will conclude our segment on the Legal Framework for the New Food Movement. To participate, register here and then join us online at 3:00 pm EST on Wednesday, December 4. Janelle’s presentation will be followed by a moderated discussion of audience questions.

Janelle Orsi is an attorney, author and the executive director of the Oakland, CA-based Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC). SELC is a nonprofit organization that works to promote just and resilient economies through legal tools that include education, research, advice, advocacy. The Center uses unconventional and innovative approaches to foster local communities and practices that promote sharing and sustainability. The work is diverse, with programs that focus on shared housing, local investment, and food systems, to name just a few. 

In the food space, SELC is actively involved with grassroots promotion of community-based urban agriculture, and also with policy advocacy supporting local and community interests. Recently, SELC provided commentary on the proposed Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to voice concern that the proposed rules will excessively burden small food and farming businesses. SELC is also advocating for the California Neighborhood Food Act, a law that will support small, local producers and remove undue legal and policy barriers created by cities, counties and homeowners associations.

In addition to her work with the Sustainable Economies Law Center, she also runs the Law Office of Janelle Orsi, a law and mediation practice that provides services for shared housing, nonprofits, cooperatives, social enterprises and individuals. She is a self-described “sharing lawyer” and has written extensively on the legal and communal aspects of sharing. She is the author of Practicing Law in the Sharing Economy, co-author of How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life & Build Community, and a frequent blogger on Shareable.net. She has been widely praised for her creative approach to social issues, including being recognized by the American Bar Association as a “Legal Rebel” and being named by The (En)Rich List as one of 100 people “whose contributions enrich paths to sustainable futures.”

On Wednesday, Janelle will speak about the “Legal Structures for Just and Sustainable Food Systems.” In her presentation, she will explore the potential contributions of the legal system to create a more just and sustainable food system. In particular, she will address the key legal principles underlying cooperatives and common pool resources, highlighting the primary legal barriers inhibiting the transition of the food system and looking at how these barriers might be overcome and transformed through policy change.                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Janelle’s presentation will concludes the second segment of the Frontiers in Food and Agriculture webinar and marks the conclusion of our 2013 program. On January 28, 2014, Laurie Beyranevand, the Assistant Director of the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School will kick off the third part of our series, “GMOs and Intellectual Property.” We encourage you to check back in January to register for this and other presentations on the future of food and agriculture.

Jena Clarke is a first-year Master of Environmental Management candidate at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She earned her B.S. in International Agricultural Development from the University of California, Davis in 2009.  She is interested in agricultural policy, especially relating to livestock production and rangeland management. Her background is in cattle ranching in the US and Australia, where she worked as a cowgirl and later as a business analyst for a corporate agricultural funds manager.

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