K&L Gates Advises on Creation and Earth Day Launch of Sustainable Agriculture Organization Leading Harvest

22 April 2020
Seattle - A team of lawyers from global law firm K&L Gates LLP has advised a coalition of farmers, land owners and land managers/operators, and conservation organizations on the creation and April 22nd (Earth Day) launch of Leading Harvest, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing sustainable agriculture through assurance standards, training, and educational offerings. The organization’s Farmland Management Standard provides a new industry standard for sustainable agriculture and is applicable across a broad range of geographies, crop types, and management systems. Two million acres across the United States are already committed to enrollment in the standard.

Leading Harvest will be the first industry-wide solution to sustainability issues in a way that is scalable and adaptable across operations and regions. Leading Harvest’s solution-based standard meets the demand of consumers and the supply chain by certifying that sustainable farming outcomes are being achieved, including soil health, conservation, and water management. The standard was field-tested across 22,000 acres encompassing a variety of production systems, regions, and crops, including corn, beans, grapes, almonds, pistachios, apples, walnuts, citrus, peanuts, and pumpkins.

Leading Harvest Interim Executive Director Kenny Fahey commented: “Leading Harvest represents a paradigm-shift in sustainable agriculture management and certification. That powerful vision would not be possible without a rock-solid foundation of non-profit structuring and corporate governance. The team at K&L Gates brought exceptional professionalism, talent, and passion to this effort, allowing our team to focus on the mission of advancing sustainability in agriculture.”

The K&L Gates team was led by Marisa Bocci, a partner in the firm’s Seattle office and a co-leader of K&L Gates’ agribusiness industry group. Seattle partner Elizabeth Crouse and associate William Smith advised the client on non-profit formation, corporate governance, and tax matters. Seattle partner Pam Jacobson and associate Katie Christensen handled relevant trademark applications and provided intellectual property advice, with Washington, D.C., partner Alissa Parisi and Seattle partner Elisabeth Yandell-McNeil also advising with respect to corporate structuring matters.

“It was a pleasure to work with the Leading Harvest team, helping them advance agribusiness sustainability standards for farm owners and operators in the US and abroad and achieve a benchmark on their ESG goals,” said Bocci. “It is particularly fitting that Leading Harvest is launching on this 50th anniversary of Earth Day.”

With a focus on the entire agricultural supply and food processing chain, K&L Gates’ integrated cross-practice and cross-office agribusiness, food and beverage industry group serves clients on matters including corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, licensing, finance, real estate, land use, water law, environmental law, intellectual property, commodities, antitrust, regulatory issues, dispute resolution, employment and labor law, commercial contracts, and general litigation.

Lawyers in K&L Gates’ environmental, social, and governance (ESG) group advise on a range of ESG risks and compliance measures, helping clients meet the responsibility expectations of their investors, customers, employees, and communities. This includes focus in such areas as investment management, corporate governance, and sustainability, where the lawyers counsel clients on ESG strategies for fund launches, regulatory matters, integrating environmentally responsible principles into corporate initiatives, and keeping abreast of incoming legislation and new policy initiatives.
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