Old Labor Laws Run up against New Farming Approaches

Mary Pols, Portland Press Herald

CLF’s Ben Tettlebaum, a staff attorney in our Maine office, is featured in this Portland Press Herald article about farmers and labor law.

At the Agricultural Trades Show in Augusta last month, the Conservation Law Foundation’s Legal Services Food Hub hosted a panel on Employment Law for farmers, with the goal of “untangling the web of labor law” for farm workers, including interns and apprentices. The group is working on a handout for farmers, similar to one prepared by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT is that state’s version of MOFGA). Ben Tettlebaum organized the panel, which was geared toward small and mid-size farmers, and included Drummond and Woodsum labor attorney Tom Trenholm. As Tettlebaum put it, the commodity farmers already “have a handle on it for the most part.”

“The small growers are like ‘Whoa, we didn’t realize we were out of compliance,’” Tettlebaum said.

“It is a thorny and complicated area, which isn’t unlike a lot of areas of the law, in some ways more complex than it should be,” Tettlebaum said.

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