Community Supported Agriculture: An Exploration of Legal Issues and Risk-Management Strategies

Vol. 28 No. 2

Mr. Johnson is an attorney with Mayer Brown LLP, in Chicago, Illinois. Ms. Armstrong is the executive director of Farm Commons and a research associate at the University of Illinois. Mr. Endres is an associate professor of Agricultural Law at the University of Illinois.

Community Supported Agriculture operations, generally referred to as CSAs, provide a unique and increasingly popular venue for consumers to obtain fresh produce and other agricultural products directly from local farmers. The adjectives “Community Supported” illustrate the community-based funding and local-food orientation of the production system. Specifically, the farm’s members or shareholders buy into the farm at the start of the season in return for the promise of sharing the resulting harvest. In some respects, CSAs present an early form of crowd-funding. Of course, these CSA members bear the risk, along with the farmer, of crop failure or other production risks. In sum, the CSA farm and its members form a food network or community based on the farm’s activities and weekly produce deliveries during the harvest season.

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