Please scroll down for links to download our model CSA Member Agreement, Worker Share Agreement, and Volunteer Waiver
What is CSA?
Community Supported Agriculture (“CSA”) is a unique type of direct farm business is a method of growing and distributing food where the farmer sells the season’s crops in advance of the growing season to individuals who are called shareholders or members. After production begins, the CSA farm’s shareholders receive a portion of the harvest on a weekly basis throughout the growing season. The philosophical underpinnings of CSA are that the risk and reward of food production should be shared between farmer and eater.
Growth in CSA
The first farm in the United States to market its products through a CSA program began on the east coast in the mid 1980's. By 2007, 12,549 farms in the United States marketed their products through a CSA program. Illinois was home to 302 of those farms. The business model has clearly seen significant growth. In addition, almost half of young and beginning farmers we enter direct farming are choosing a CSA model.
The CSA model is a new method of marketing agricultural products and different farms adapt the model in different ways. However, in a situation where sales occur in advance of the growing season and where customers are encouraged to visit the farm, there are many potential legal concerns with a CSA program. Many CSA farmers are not aware of these legal risks. To foster a vibrant CSA community that is prepared to meet future challenges, we have prepared resources exclusively for CSA farmers.
The guides below are in pdf format and the versions without annotations are docx files. We strongly recommend reading the guide before making any changes to the model agreements without annotations.
As we update and improve the resources based on user feedback, we will post new versions of these guides.
This Model Member Agreement was prepared to serve the needs of CSA farmers and the CSA community for a comprehensive agreement that protects both the farmer and member. We believe that this agreement can improve communication between farmer and member, which will also improve customer retention and the strength of the CSA model long into the future. From poultry to cheese, grain, or vegetable producers, we encourage all CSA farmers to look closely at this document and use it as model for their membership agreement.
This document presents a model agreement for farms that host worker shares. “Worker shares” are volunteers that serve the farm in exchange for food. Many CSA farms have a worker share program to reward committed, weekly volunteers with a free share in the CSA. A worker share agreement can encourage clear communication between farmer and worker share, while protecting the farmer from serious liability and employment concerns.
This document presents a model waiver suitable for farms that accept volunteer assistance. To guide farmers in implementing the waiver on their own farm, we have written a brief explanation of when and how to use this waiver. In addition, the guide highlights the protections this waiver cannot provide.
Watch our CSA Legal Issues Webinar as delivered on December 10th by downloading this file.
Would you be willing to help us improve these resources by completing a survey that should take less than 4 minutes of your time? If so, please follow this link. If you have additional questions about CSA legal issues, the survey includes an opportunity to give us your name and contact information to receive an individual response to your question.
These model agreements were made possible, in part, through a grant from the North Central Risk Management Education Center and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Hatch Project NO. ILLU-470-309. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the funding agency.