A cow stands in front of wind turbines in a field

About the Farm & Energy Initiative

The FEI seeks to lead research and create open access resources to farmers, researchers and public citizens alike, to promote the future sustainability of the agricultural industry.

A collaboration between the Institute for Energy and the Environment and the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School and supported by funding from the National Agricultural Library at the United States Department of Agriculture, our projects examine legal and practical issues at the intersection of energy and agriculture with the goal of improving agricultural energy management nationwide.

Our Mission

Given the importance of both agriculture and energy production to the US economy and the critical need to improve the sustainability of both sectors, the Farm and Energy Initiative (FEI) seeks to lead research and create open source resources to promote the future sustainability of the agriculture industry. The initiative’s work on innovative law and policy projects will develop accessible legal tools to improve farm energy sustainability and translate those tools for broad use.

Our Researchers

Genevieve Byrne, staff attorney at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School

Genevieve Byrne

Staff Attorney

Genevieve joined the FEI in 2018. She graduated with her J.D. and a certificate in Natural Resource Law from Lewis and Clark College of Law in 2010. She completed clerkships at the Vermont Office of Legislative Council and American Farmland Trust. She then spent five years practicing public interest environmental law, representing citizen and nonprofit plaintiffs in suits related to nuclear and solar energy permitting and regulation. Her interests lie in energy law, agricultural conservation, land use and zoning, and public interest litigation.

Genevieve manages the Farm and Energy Initiative program, and leads research on the Farmland Solar Policy Project, as well as on Biogas and Organic Waste Management.

Katherin Oaks, LLM Fellow at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School

Katherine Oaks

LLM Fellow

Katherine earned her J.D. from Villanova Law School and worked as a public defender with the Defender Association of Philadelphia for three years before joining the FEI in 2018. She is a lifelong advocate for ecological justice and systems thinking.

Katherine grounds her research in a civics of environmental stewardship, social justice and the reclamation of democracy through grassroots-informed policy design.

Here at the FEI, Katherine directs the Healthy Soils Law Project.

Our Students

Farm and Energy Initiative students are law and masters degree students pursuing their J.D., Accelerated J.D., LLM, and/or a Masters Degree in Energy Regulation and Law (MERL), Environmental Law and Policy (MELP), or Food and Agriculture Law and Policy (MFALP).

Current VLS students can participate in Farm and Energy Initiative projects through the Institute for Energy and the Environment’s Energy Clinic or Research Associate Program. Click here to learn more about some of our participants!