Research in agriculture or food law is rarely restricted to a single topic. Finding related material is often necessary. Starting broad is a good idea at the beginning of your research. But the sooner you can narrow your search terms, the quicker you’ll be begin to find meaningful sources related to your topic.
Some suggested search terms are noted below. Synonyms are also helpful.
The National Agricultural Library's Thesaurus and Glossary with definitions may also be helpful. Browse the Glossary.
Food and Agriculture Law and Policy research often involves researching related areas including water quality and resources, land use, biotechnology, energy, health law, farm animals, agricultural business, food labeling, agritourism, food labeling, climate change, etc.
Administrative law / regulations at both the federal and state level are especially important.
When conducting research, it is often best to start with secondary sources such as books, ebooks, journal and law review articles, and news articles which provide context as well as references to primary law. There are also numerous websites that provide background information and links to other resources.
The challenge is to locate and use relevant information in a timely and effective manner. This Guide will lead you to a great many useful resources.
For locating relevant free web sites, even better than Google (according to some!) is the use of a resource that focuses on carefully selected web sites organized by topic. One such source, broken down by category in the Web Sites section of this Guide, is Vermont Law and Graduate School Library’s Environmental Law Research Sources. This is a collection of more than 500 free websites, with descriptions, selected in consultation with faculty, students and alumni. Categories include: Agriculture Law, Food Law, Environmental Justice, Health Law, Water Law and Policy, Environmental Dispute Resolution, Municipal Codes, Climate Change, Energy, Land Use, Endangered Species/Wildlife Biodiversity, Oceans/Marine Law, Science Sources, International Environmental Law, etc.
There are numerous ways to begin research, depending on the issue at hand, the purpose of the research, and the knowledge and skills of the researcher.
Take the time to develop an effective research strategy by brainstorming search terms, making a preliminary list potentially useful primary and secondary sources, and keeping track of your research.
A recommended approach is to begin with secondary sources for background information to put your issue into context and to discover cites to primary sources.
In addition to books and to the resources on Westlaw and Lexis, other secondary sources are helpful. Among the databases most frequently used for food and agriculture law research are: Agricultural & Environmental Science Collection, Gale OneFile Agriculture, Ebook Central, GreenWire, Environment Complete, JSTOR, and Statista.
These and additional databases are listed in the Databases section of this Guide.