The HVADC Cultivator
Meet HVADC Consultant: Jason Foscolo
You might not think of a food product requiring its own dedicated law firm unless you were in the business of producing or marketing food products, then you would be relieved to know about The Food Law Firm in Dutchess County. HVADC Farm & Food Funding Accelerator (FFFA) consultant, Jason Foscolo is the Founder and Managing Partner of the firm, which has one of the most unique legal practice specialties that’s entirely apropos in the Hudson Valley; food and beverage law.
Foscolo’s firm represents food and farm businesses in matters such as co-packer agreements, private label agreements, supplier agreements, food labeling, trademarks, and general commercial law. Though he has such a highly specialized focus, the array of services the firm offers highlight the fact that the business of food, beverage and agriculture is a vast and complex universe.
Foscolo was a judge advocate in the United States Marine Corps 2005-2010, doing criminal defense military justice work that built up significant trial experience. Feeling that much of his professional skills did not translate well into civilian life, Foscolo said, “My military experience was all about personal development, not so much professional development. It gave me confidence to do something a bit crazy like launch a niche-market law practice from a dead-start.”
Foscolo explained that in his core, he was never truly passionate about law when he first embarked on his legal career. Filling out job applications post-Marines Corps involved feigning passion to suit each job description regardless of his own personal lack of interest; feeling unfulfilled, he avowed to do that no longer. “I had this moment where I realized how insane that was, to pretend to love a job that I would do for 75% of my waking hours and I made a promise to myself that I would stop doing that,” said Foscolo. “If there was a job I knew I could love, I would say so, but I stopped lying to myself about false passion.”
In efforts to get honest with himself, Foscolo’s own personal inventory turned up one, undying passion: food. Though he admits he never grew it nor professionally cooked nor manufactured it, he soon found an advanced law degree program through the University of Arkansas with the singular focus of food and beverage law which piqued his interest. “I was sincerely interested in food, so I signed up,” he said. “Once I realized the scope of our food regulations, I finally got some professional inspiration and decided that I wanted to work with food producers and manufacturers.”
Foscolo’s practice also encompasses product recall management and mitigation strategies, Non-Compete and Non-Disclosures, web use agreements, farm lease agreements, imported foods and workshops and training. In its seventh year, Foscolo feels The Food Law Firm team offers a complete suite of services from corporate law, food safety, employment law, trademark law, litigation public defense as well as food and farm finance.
Food is a pervasive theme in Foscolo’s life, who explained food is about much, much more than “Instagram likes;” it’s about the pursuit of great food. Hobbies? Exhaustive mushroom identifying and foraging through late fall. Family fun? “We’ve got a family of five and we basically built a three-day trip to New Haven, Connecticut just to eat pizza there in a bunch of different places,” he said. “We hit up a natural history museum just to make it legit, but it was basically a pizza vacation. Who does that?”
Foscolo said he connected with HVADC after moving to the Hudson Valley for his practice and quickly being referred to them by other professionals within his network. His most gratifying experience was working with a Hudson Valley farmer for whom he “fought off a trademark troll” for 14 months and then successfully got the farmer’s trademark registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. “That was my best David and Goliath type moment so far,” he said.
Much like the majority of his clients, Foscolo regards himself as a Hudson Valley business entrepreneur. He said he has rooted his family and business in Dutchess and enjoyed significant growth in the last year, adding staff with new talents and practice areas. He said they are building up professional capacity through software implementation and amending the business model to accommodate the rush of growth. “There might just be a few more food lawyers in town in the next year or so.”
“Jason's experience & expertise in food law helped us through all the legalities of setting up our small farm business,” said Laura Ferrera of West Wind Orchard in Ulster County. Foscolo worked with the orchard to maneuver them through a challenging beginning. “His passion & enthusiasm for farming and local community building is inspiring.”
In addition to working with the FFFA peers, in the past Foscolo has conducted workshops for HVADC on the topic of food labeling regulations.
“[Foscolo]’s expertise has been an asset for HVADC,” said HVADC Deputy Director, Mary Ann Johnson. “He has been able to help our clients in areas where they have felt particularly vulnerable, such as liability or complicated agreements that require someone with industry understanding to advise.”
For more information about the FFFA program, visit https://www.hvadc.org/farm-food-funding-accelerator
Logo source: The Food Law Firm