This Note examines one of the potential legal barriers to sustainable agriculture—the dormant Commerce Clause, the doctrine that the federal government’s power to regulate commerce prohibits the states from regulating in a way that interferes with interstate commerce. Part I of this Note discusses the goals of the sustainable agriculture movement and how they relate to federalism. It defines sustainable agriculture and shows how federal regulation and industrial agriculture are closely connected. It also discusses the relationship between small farms and sustainability. It then argues that many of the problems addressed by the sustainable agriculture movement fall within the police power of local and state governments. Part II analyzes the relationship between the dormant Commerce Clause and the movement towards sustainability, explaining how the dormant Commerce Clause treats state policies with respect to agriculture and then comparing how the doctrine is applied to other industries. Part III of this Note discusses and analyzes a variety of actual and hypothetical state efforts to promote sustainable agriculture through the lens of the dormant Commerce Clause, arguing that the doctrine should be interpreted to allow such policies.
Chris Erchull, THE DORMANT COMMERCE CLAUSE—A CONSTITUTIONAL BARRIER TO SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AND THE LOCAL FOOD MOVEMENT, 36 W. New Eng. L. Rev. 371 (2014), https://digitalcommons.law.wne.edu/lawreview/vol36/iss3/6