Breakdown of Legal Needs Assessment: A Look at the Structured Interviews

Updated: Jul 9, 2020


Person holding chick in hand (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).
Person holding chick in hand (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).

This week Ashley and I both are at the American Agricultural Law Association’s annual meeting in beautiful Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s a good opportunity for us to see old friends in the ag law community, meet new people in the ag law field, and learn about a variety of legal topics impacting U.S. agriculture. If you are interested in seeing the agenda for the conference, please click here.

If you see a session on the agenda and would like a copy of the materials, please email Ashley or me and we will get you a copy of the materials. Or you can follow the discussion among the other participants (not just me) by following #AALA14 on Twitter.


Also this week, I will be breaking down results from our legal needs assessment report. The report is lengthy, so some of you may prefer the Cliff Notes© version. As background, this needs assessment was conducted in 2013 and consisted of structured interviews of leaders in the agriculture, environmental, and natural resources fields in Maryland and a survey of University of Maryland Extension agricultural faculty (county ag educators and state ag specialists). When creating the Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI), the General Assembly gave us a broad directive to assist the state’s agricultural producers with trusts and estates issues, compliance with environmental laws, and other issues necessary to preserve Maryland family farms. This needs assessment helped us narrow down any other issues necessary to preserve these farms.

ALEI conducted 23 structured interviews of agricultural, environmental, and natural resource leaders in private industry, public interest groups, and in state government. Each interview consisted of the same eight questions (see the questions at aglaw.umd.edu/appendix-2). Results of the interviews illustrate that the top legal concerns of Maryland agricultural producers are environmental regulations, nuisance actions/right-to-farm, land use (such as zoning limitations), estate planning, and land leasing (chart 1).


Chart 1: Percentage of Interviewees Responding A Legal Issue Was A Challenge Facing Maryland Agriculture.
Chart 1: Percentage of Interviewees Responding A Legal Issue Was A Challenge Facing Maryland Agriculture.