Local Food Systems



The term “food system” refers to the interconnected processes that connect the complex spectrum of food production to food processing, consumption, and ultimately disposal. One specific definition provides that the food system “includes all processes involved in keeping us fed: growing, harvesting, processing (or transforming or changing), packaging, transporting, marketing, consuming and disposing of food and food packages.” (Cornell University). The food system in the United States is predominantly characterized as a complex and globally integrated system in which products are routinely produced, processed, and hundreds and thousands of miles from the point of consumption. “Local Food Systems”, as used here, is meant to denote the fact that there are a number of interrelated pieces that connect to make “local food” a component of the U.S. agricultural food system. The term “community food system” is sometimes used interchangeably with the term “local food system.” Read the full overview

Note: Recently added resources are posted at the top of the applicable sections.

Major Statutes

Comprehensive Bills:

Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (a/k/a 2018 Farm Bill), Pub L. No. 115-334, tit. I, IV, VI, VII, X, 132 Stat 4490 (codified at scattered sections of 7 and 42 U.S.C.)

Agricultural Act of 2014 (a/k/a 2014 Farm Bill), Pub. L. No. 113-179, tit. I, IV, VI, X, 128 Stat. 649 (codified at scattered sections of 7 and 42 U.S.C.)

Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008(a/k/a 2008 Farm Bill), Pub. L. No. 110-246, tit. I, IV, VI, VII, X, 122 Stat. 1651 (codified at scattered sections of 7 and 42 U.S.C.)

Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (a/k/a 2002 Farm Bill), Pub. L. No. 107- 171, tit. I, IV, VII, X, 116 Stat. 134 (codified at scattered sections of 7 and 42 U.S.C.)

Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-296, 124 Stat. 3183 (codified at 42 U.S.C. chapter 13 & 13a)

Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act, 7 U.S.C. §§  1981- 2008, 1932(g)(9)(B)(iv)(I))

Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, 7 U.S.C. §§ 2011- 2036

Local Food Production and Program Evaluation, 7U.S.C. § 2204h

Purchase of Specialty Crops (Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002), 7 U.S.C. § 612c-4

Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1751 – 1769


2014 Farm Bill: Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, 7 C.F.R. Part 1291

Agency Mission and Organization; Mandatory Meat and Poultry Products Inspection and Voluntary Inspection and Certification, 9 C.F.R. 300

Child Nutrition Programs, 7 C.F.R. Parts 210-249

National School Lunch Program, 7 C.F.R. Part 210

School Breakfast Program (SBP), 7 C.F.R. Part 220

Special Milk Program for Children, 7 C.F.R. Part 215

Summer Food Service Program, 7 C.F.R. Part 225

Child and Adult Care Food Program, 7 C.F.R. Part 226

Nutrition Education and Training Program, 7 C.F.R. Part 227

State Administrative Expense Funds, 7 C.F.R. Part 235

Cash in Lieu of Donated Foods, 7 C.F.R. Part 240

Determining Eligibility for Free and Reduced Price Meals and Free Milk in Schools, 7 C.F.R. Part 245

Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, 7 C.F.R. Part 246

Commodity Supplemental Food Program, 7 C.F.R. Part 247

WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), 7 C.F.R. Part 248

Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP), 7 C.F.R. Part 249

Cooperative Agreements, 7 C.F.R. Part 4285

Donation of Foods for Use in the United States, Its Territories and Possessions and Areas Under Its Jurisdiction, 7 C.F.R. Part 250

Food Distribution Programs on Indian Reservations, 7 C.F.R. Part 250.6

Egg Research and Promotion, 7 C.F.R. Part 1250

Fresh Fruits, Vegetables and Other Products (Inspection, Certification, and Standards), 7 C.F.R. Part 51

Food Stamp and Food Distribution Program, 7 C.F.R. Parts 271- 274, 278-279, 281, 283

Local and Regional Food and Procurement Program, 7 C.F.R. Part 1590

Nondiscrimination in Federally-Assisted Programs of the Department of Agriculture -Effectuation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 7 C.F.R. Parts 15.1 – 15.12

Procedures by Which the Agricultural Marketing Service Develops, Revises, Suspends, or Terminates Voluntary Official Grade Standards, 7 C.F.R. Part 36

Processed Fruits and Vegetables, Processed Products Thereof, and Certain Other Processed Food Products, 7 C.F.R. Part 52

Program to Assess Organic Certifying Agencies, 7 C.F.R. Part 37

Case Law

Case Law Index for Local Food Systems

Administrative Law Decisions

Office of the Administrative Law Judges

Center published USDA Judicial Officer’s Decisions

Center Research Publications

AFRI- Legal Direct Marketing Business Guides (National AgLaw Center & U. IL. Urbana)

Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act  (Pittman, 2012)

Food Safety and Specialty Crops (R. Rumley)

Food Labeling for Specialty Crop Producers (E. Rumley, 2012)

Agricultural Contracting (R. Rumley)

3rd Party Food Safety Audits (Seideman and Rainey, 2012)

A Legal Guide to the National Organic Program (Pittman, et al., 2011)

Legal and Business Guide for Specialty Crop Producers (National AgLaw Center & U. AR Division of Agriculture, 2011)

Federal Regulation of Organic Food: A Research Guide for Legal Practitioners and Food Industry Professionals (Jillian, 2006)

The Farmers’ Legal Guide to Producer Marketing Associations (O’Brien, Hamilton & Leudemann, 2005)

Farmers’ Markets Rules, Regulations and Opportunities (Hamilton, 2002)

Zoning Limitations and Opportunities for Farm Enterprise Diversification: Searching for New Meaning in Old Definitions (Branan, 2004)

General Legal Issues for Community Farmers Market Managers to Consider (Crocker, 2007)

Congressional Research Service Reports

Reports– published and made available by CRS beginning in 2017

Subjects- published by CRS and made available by NALC until 2018:

Farm Bills/Economic Stimulus

Food Security/Aid


Sustainable and Organic Farming

Agricultural Law Bibliography

Introduction   |   Keyword Search   |   Browse Categories

Legal publications on Local Food Systems:

Corporate Farming (Restrictions on Corporate Farming/Family Farm Preservation)
Food and Drug Law
Hunger and Food Security Issues
Hunting, Recreation and Wildlife
Sustainable and Organic Farming

Reference Resources

Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)

Dairy Program
Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Program
Farmers Market Fact Sheet
Farmers Market Promotion Program
Farmers Markets and Direct-to-Consumer Marketing
Federal State Marketing Improvement Program
Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) & Good Handling Practices (GHP)
Livestock and Poultry Program
Local Food Directories: National Farmers Market Directory 
Local Foods Research and Development
Local Foods Promotion ProgramPublication: Farmers Market Consortium Resource Guide (2007)
Publication: How Local Farmers and School Food Service Buyers Are Building Alliances (2000)
Publication: Opening a Farmers’ Market on Federal Property (2009)
Regional Food System Partnerships
Specialty Crop Block Program Grants
Specialty Crops Marketing Orders and Agreements
Supporting Local & Regional Food Systems (2016)
The National Organic Program
Transportation Research & Analysis
USDA Farmers Market 2018 Rules and Procedures & Operating Guidelines (2018)
Why Local Food Matters: Views from the Natioinal Landscape

Agricultural Research Service (ARS)

Animal Health
Briefing Room: Child Nutrition Programs
Briefing Room: Dairy
Briefing Room: Farm and Commodity Policy
Briefing Room: Food and Nutrition Assistance
Briefing Room: Food and Nutrition Assistance Research
Briefing Room: Land Use, Value, and Tenure
Briefing Room: Organic Agriculture
Briefing Room: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
Briefing Room: WIC Program
Economic Research Service
Local Foods
National Research Program: Crop Production and Protection
Natural Resources and Sustainable Agricultural Systems
Plant Health
Publication: Exploring Alternative Farm Definitions: Implications for Agricultural Statistics and Program Eligibility (2009)
Publication: Local Food Systems: Concepts, Impacts and Issues (2010)
Publication: Organic Produce, Price Premiums, and Eco-Labeling in U.S. Farmers’ Markets
Publication: The National School Lunch Program Background, Trends, and Issues (2008)
Publication: Trends in U.S. and Local Food Systems: Report to Congress (2015)
Sustainable Agricultural Systems Research
Topic: Vegetables & Pulses

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Questions & Answers: Raw Milk
National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS) Model Documents
Grade “A” pasteurized Milk Ordinance- 2017 Revision
Food and Nutrition Service (USDA)
WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamp Program)
Supplemental Nutrition Program: Farmer’s Markets EBT Projects
National School Lunch Program
School Breakfast Program
Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program

Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)

State Inspection and Cooperative Agreements: Regulations, Directives, Notices, and Policy Decisions

National Agricultural Library (NAL)

Alternative Farming Systems Information Center

Alternative Farming Systems Marketing

Community Food Systems

National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS)

Census of Agriculture

National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

Animal & Plant Biosecurity
Agricultural Systems
Animal Health and Production and Animal Products

Risk Management Agency (RMA)

Crop Insurance

Risk Management Agency: Rural Development (USDA)

USDA Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

CSA Resources for Farmers
Farm to School: A Selected and Annotate Bibliography
Food and Nutrition Information Center
Guide to Organic Market, Industry and Consumer Studies (2008)
Guide to Organic Marketing and Trade How-to Publications (2008)
Guide to Organic Marketing and Trade Periodicals, Calendars and Trade Shows (2008)
Organically Produced Foods: Food Safety Issues
Sustainable Agriculture: Definitions and Terms

Other Federal Resources

Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas – National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA-NCAT)
Database of Local Public Policies that Support Community Food Systems (Growing Food Connections)
Community Food System Planning(Growing Food Connections)
Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (USDA)
Landowner and Farmer Resources (Drake University Agricultural Law Center)
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)
Western Region SARE


A Guide to Illinois Laws Governing Farm Marketing (Schell, 2005)
A Review of Definitions of Community Food Systems (Edgar & Brown, 2013)
Before You Sign on the Dotted Line. . .Questions for Farmers to Ask Before Entering Into a Direct Marketing Agreement (FLAG, 2005)
Community Food Systems Bibliography- March 2013 Updates (UC Davis, Agriculture Sustainability Institute)
Community Food System Development Framework for Change (Perez et. al., 2016).
Direct Marketing (ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture, 2016)
Direct Sales to Local Grocery Stores and Restaurants (ATTRA news, 2012)
Economic Opportunity in Local Food Systems: Baselines and Targets  (Center for Rural Studies, 2011)
Establishing and Operating a Community Farmers’ Market (U. KY Ext., 1992)
Establishing Land Use Protections for Community Gardens (Public Health Law & Policy, 2009)
Establishing Land Use Protections for Farmers’ Markets (Public Health Law & Policy, 2009)
Farmers Market Development Manual (AL Farmers Market Authority, 2005)
Farmers Market Economic Impact Study (Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, 2010)
Future Issues in Agricultural Law and Rural Practice (FLAG CLE seminar, 2006)
Growing Local, Community Guide to Planning for Agriculture and Local Food Systems  (Freedgood and Fydenkevez, 2017)
Guide to Federal Funding for Local and Regional Food Systems (National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, 2010)
Iowa Farmers’ Market Development Manual (IA Dept. of Ag., 2003)
Legal Guide to Farm-direct Marketing (Oregon State University Extension, 2016).
Local and Regional Food Systems (Campell & Feenstra, UC Davis)
Marketing for the Value-Added Agricultural Enterprise (U. TN Ext., Center for Profitable Agriculture, 2002)
Planning for Food Access and Community-Based Food Systems (Hodgson, 2012)
Raw Milk Use and Safety Fact Sheet (Center for Rural Affairs, 2007)
Regulatory Guidance for Best Practices: Cottage Foods (Association of Food and Drug Officials, 2012)
Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems: A Report to Congress (USDA, 2015)
Understanding Farmers’ Market Rules (Speir & Krueger, Farmers’ Legal Action Group, 2006)
Wisconsin Local Food Marketing Guide: A Producer’s Guide to Marketing Locally Grown Food (WI Dept. of Ag., 2014)

Additional Resources

About Local Food Systems
Establishing and Operating a Community Farmer’s Market (U. KY Ext.)
Exploring Food System Policy: A Survey of Food Policy Councils in the United States (2012)
Farm and Food Legal Resources (VT Law School)
Food Policy Councils (Agriculture & Public Health Gateway, Johns Hopkins Cntr for a Livable Future)
Food Policy Councils and Local Governments: Creating Effective Collaboration for Food Systems Change (2018)
Good Agricultural Practices Network for Education and Training (GAPsNET)
Increasing Local Procurement in Farm-to-School Programs: An Exploratory Investigation (2015)
Introduction to Local Food Systems (U. MO Ext.)
Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, & Community Development
Knowledge Base Collection: Food Systems (American Planning Assoc.)
Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture
Local and Regional Food Systems (Food Print)
Local and Regional Food Systems: Index of Initiatives and Resources (Cornell)
Local Food Systems: Clarifying Current Research (NC State Ext.)
Local Food Systems Posts (Ag & Food Law Blog)
Local Harvest
Market Maker: Linking Agricultural and Seafood Markets
National Farm to School Online
North American Farmers’ Direct Marketing Association
Permits Allowing the Sale of Raw Milk for Human Consumption (PA Dept. Ag Guidance Doc., 2016)
Agriculture and Food Systems: search engine (Sustainable Communities online)
The Economics of Local Food: an Emerging Community of Practice
Urban Farmers Markets as a Strategy to Increase Access to and Consumption of Fresh Vegetables Among SNAP and non-SNAP Participants: Results from an Evaluation (2018)
Valley Food & Farm
What’s Happening With Raw Milk- State by State Updates
W.K. Kellogg Foundation: Food Systems and Rural Development

Recommended Publications & Readings  (not freely available electronically)

Brian Halweil, Eat Here: Reclaiming Homegrown Pleasures in a Global Supermarket (W.W. Norton & Company, 2004)

Hinrichs & Lyson, Remaking the North American Food System: Strategies for Sustainability (U of Nebraska Press, 2007)

Neil D. Hamilton, The Legal Guide for Direct Farm Marketing (Drake University, 1999).

Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (The Penguin Press, 2006).