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Upcoming events

October 19, 2016


Jason Foscolo, principal food law attorney at The Food Law Firm, will lead workshops and join panel discussions at Pace Law School,  Cornell Cooperative Extension Sullivan County, and Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture.

Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University will host a panel discussion on the career of food law for anyone interested in the field.

At Catskills Farm and Food Conference, Cornell Cooperative Sullivan County, food business entrepreneurs, and community members near and far will have the unique opportunity to learn proven strategies to help them add value to farm products. Jason will lead a special workshop on FDA compliant food labeling, designed to empower the DIY food business entrepreneur. There is still an opportunity to register for this. Don’t miss out!

Arcadia’s Veteran Farmer Program is a multilayered, hands-on educational program that develops new farmers; capitalizes on the growing market in local, sustainably grown foods; and encourages entrepreneurship and job creation. This robust program helps pay veterans to learn how to farm, helps them find affordable land, provides easy market access for the food they produce to satisfy public demand, and reinvigorates the farm sector with skilled new growers, eager to begin their next phase of life. In keeping with the objectives of the program, Jason will be leading a workshop on the comprehensive legal risks of farm businesses.

Lab Grown Meat

August 3, 2016

MeatWe will probably be eating lab-grown meat one day soon. So long as it can withstand a few hours in the smoker, we approve. But at the risk of spoiling a good thing with legality, what are we going to call it? FDA and USDA regulate the words we use for various foods, and there are established definitions for meat and poultry. 9 C.F.R. 381.1 defines poultry as “any domesticated bird”, and a “poultry product” as anything derived from a poultry carcass. Red meat is “the part of the muscle of any cattle, sheep, swine, or goats which is skeletal”.

What are your thoughts on how we shall define lab-grown meat?

Debt and American Chicken Farming

August 2, 2016


"What do you mean 'I have to move'? I live here."

“What do you mean ‘I have to move’? I live here.”

This handy infographic explains the economics of poultry production from the perspective of the typical American chicken farmer. It’s not just a tough life: farmers bear a great deal of the economic risk (in the form of debt) that allows you to buy that cheap broiler bird in the supermarket. Farmers take on long-term debt in the hope of acquiring short term poultry production contracts, the terms of which are skewed in favor of the big poultry buyer.

Does this knowledge encourage you to buy from a farmer that does not participate in the “Big Chicken” system?

Hat-tip, Jordan Green – Farmbuilder.

Crop insurance for vegetable and fruit farmers

August 1, 2016

The New Food Economy
has the best article we’ve seen in a long time on crop insurance for vegetable and fruit farmers. According to the article, while 3/4 of commodity grain growers are covered by a federal crop insurance policy, only 1/4 of fruit and vegetable growers have insurance.

If you are a fruit and vegetable farmer that is uninsured, give us your feedback on why you have not opted-in to a policy.

June 24, 2016

16WHOLEFOODS-master768When a food business signs a supplier agreement with Whole Foods, the supplier agrees to indemnify Whole Foods for any harm caused by its products. This is typical of how food businesses protect themselves from liability for things like a food safety crisis. Whole Foods latest food safety mishapis different. Its recent Warning Letter did not stem from suppliers’ products. Whole Foods processed its own products under unsanitary conditions – there is no supplier to assume the liability.

June 23, 2016

downloadShoppers at farmers markets are spending less money on fresh produce. This Washington Post article claims that the shoppers have changed their buying habits: “A lot of people that walk through markets are not shopping. They’re there to meet. They’re there to socialize.” That may be the case, but it is also possible that consumers are getting their local vegetables through other venues. Decreased purchases at farmer’s markets may indicate that consumers are increasing purchases at farmstands, through CSA subscriptions, brick and mortar retailers, restaurants, etc. For the farmers reading this, what are your thoughts? If your yield is constant or increasing, how are you moving the merch if farmers markets are less attractive now than they were 5 years ago?


June 14, 2016

china_630_0Join us on June 17th, 2016 at 8:30 am – 12:00 pm at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center. Hosted by The Accelerator, powered by the Orange County IDA. 

The conference is open to growers, food manufacturers, equipment suppliers, distributors, regulators and academia. The event will focus on challenges facing the food manufacturing sector with a keynote focus on new food safety regulations and process techniques. A thought-provoking panel discussion will be held with industry leaders from prominent Mid-Hudson Valley food manufacturers. There will be networking opportunities before and after the program. The event is free, but registration is required.

To register, visitwww.mhvfoodprocessingconf.eventbrite.com

To learn more, contact Melanie Schouten at 845-234-4449.

Upcoming Workshop: The Laws of Food Labeling

May 2, 2016

13055309_884508631675199_3177999319141321911_nThe Laws of Food Labeling: The Devil Is the Details

A free ‘happy hour’-style workshop co-sponsored by HVADC and The Food Law Firm Wednesday, May 18 6pm-8pm, Elmendorph Inn, Red Hook, NY

Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation (HVADC) and Jason Foscolo of The Food Law Firm are partnering to present a free workshop on Food Labeling Laws for farmers, food industry entrepreneurs, and consumers.

About the Workshop:

The area encompassing a food label is one of the most regulated spaces in the food business. For food manufacturers, complying with these rules is the key to accessing lucrative markets. For consumers, understanding the rules is essential to eating right. In this workshop, Jason Foscolo will discuss food labeling as mandated by FDA regulations. Topics covered will include:

  • The basic layout of a label and label layout.
  • How product claims can be made, such as “high fiber” or “low sodium”.
  • How health claims about products are made, such as “consuming this product can lower yourincidence of coronary heart disease”.
  • Publicly available resources that can help food manufacturers comply with the regulations, aswell as inform consumers about what they are buying and eating.

    This is an arcane subject, but it will be made accessible by Jason. The ideal audience for this workshop is broad: food manufactures with packaged food products, consumers seeking to make better decisions about what they eat, or even graphic designers who want to get into food packaging and design.

    Workshop Details:

    The workshop is FREE and open to the public.
    Date: May 18, 2016
    Location: Elmendorph Inn, 7562 Route 9, Red Hook, NY 12571
    Time: 6pm-8pm (with time for questions and networking)
    Local bites from Daughters Fare and Ale and beer from Sloop Brewery will be provided.
    Pre-registration is REQUIRED.
    Please contact Iyla Shornstein at ishornstein@hvadc.org or 518-432-5360 x 303 to register.

    About Jason Foscolo:

    Jason has been advising clients in the food industry for 5 years. He’s an attorney with his own private practice and he’s chosen to only work with food businesses. He’s a recent transplant to the Hudson Valley. (He moved here for the food.)

    About HVADC:

    The Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation (HVADC) is the only economic development agency in the Hudson Valley with a specific focus on the viability of the agricultural economy in the region. HVADC’s charge is to enhance the agricultural sector in the Hudson Valley by assisting both new and existing agri-businesses, and supporting policies and regulations that recognize and support New York State’s agricultural economy.

U.S. House Passes Bill to Ease Calorie-Labeling Regulations

February 18, 2016

mcdonalds-nutrition-factsEater has a story with insights from Lauren Handel on legislation to change the restaurant menu labeling requirements.

“Local” As A Trademark Opportunity

October 26, 2015

by Lauren Handel

ATKearney’s recently released third annual report on consumer opinions about “local” food has lots of interesting information relevant to food hubs and anyone who markets local food. One of the findings is that consumers don’t buy local food because they don’t know which products are local. This finding suggests that food hubs and producers could do more with branding and labeling to identify local food. I see this as an opportunity to use trademark law for the benefit of local and regional food systems by creating marks that signify “local” to the relevant community. Such marks can be valuable intellectual property if used and protected appropriately.

For example, a food hub’s trademark (e.g., its name or logo) signifies to consumers not only that products bearing the mark come from the hub but also that those products come from a particular locality. Of course, the hub needs to invest in marketing so that consumers will recognize the mark and know that the hub sources from growers in the area.

Certification marks also are useful tools for identifying local food. Many states own certification marks (such as “Jersey Fresh” and “Certified SC Grown”) certifying that a product is produced in the state. The purpose of a certification mark is to indicate that goods meet certain standards. A food hub could operate a certification mark program for growers in its area to identify their products as local (defined however the hub sees fit) and, perhaps, as meeting other production and/or quality standards.

Another possibility, particularly for cooperatively owned food hubs, is collective marks. A collective mark signifies that a product comes from a member of a group. Through the group’s marketing, consumers will come to recognize that products sold by group members are local.

From a legal perspective, a food hub should secure its rights in its trademarks, certification marks, and collective marks by registering the marks with the US Patent and Trademark Office and by controlling the use of the marks. Registration provides nationwide rights in a mark and helps to prevent other people from using confusingly similar marks. The owners of trademarks, certification marks and collective marks must control the use of their marks or else they risk losing all rights in them. Therefore, it is very important to have licensing agreements with anyone permitted to use a mark and to not allow others to use a mark (or a similar mark) without such a license. Licensing agreements need not be complicated, but they must specify conditions for the use of the licensed mark.