Food freedom is flourishing in the State of Maine. A year after the governor of Maine signed “the Maine Food Sovereignty Act,” many Maine towns have responded to the new law by adopting ordinances that give their residents the legal right to sell food to one another without burdensome regulations. There are good reasons to permit farmers and home-based food processors such as bakers to sell food to their neighbors without oversight, but in most every state this is not permitted. It’s not about food safety, but about corporate control of the food system. On the day after the Maine Legislature approved the law in July of 2017, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) contacted state officials and threatened to federalize Maine’s system of livestock slaughtering and processing facilities. This article takes an in-depth look at Maine’s Food Sovereignty Act, the threat raised by the US Department of Agriculture against that law, and provides guidance for people in other states who want to bring food freedom to their communities.
Food Freedom Laws Needed to Rebuild Economic Prosperity – Reestablish Relationships between Local Food Producers and Local Consumers
Those of us who seek to restore the old-fashioned practices of food production and distribution in our local communities are concerned about food safety. We are not anti-regulation – we are instead pro-common-sense when it comes to food that is produced and sold locally. We are simply seeking to restore a way of life that has successfully promoted economic vitality, physical health, and a sense of community and belonging that used to characterize America. Such a way of life has been stripped away by mega size grocery stores, corporate dominated agriculture and food processing, and by over-reaching food regulations. The combined effect of these factors is destroying small locally owned businesses and small family farms. These destructive forces are crawling through our country, and are destroying the fabric of community life. The adoption of food freedom laws are one of the positive steps that we can take to rebuild economic prosperity, and reestablish personal relationships between local food producers and local food consumers. This article will examine the food freedom movement and will consider whether the allegations of corporate interests are valid. Should we be free to buy and sell food directly from our neighbors, or will such practices kill us? I am not being overly dramatic with my language here. Allegations against local food freedom advocates are highly charged with emotional rhetoric, and warn of unescapable illness and death.
Raw milk advocates and those concerned about the survival of small farms in Maine rallied Tuesday in Portland to show their support for farmer Dan Brown before his State Supreme Court hearing. This case is much more than a question of whether farmer Brown has the right to sell raw milk from his small dairy farm to people in his local community. It represents the nationwide effort to eliminate local independent food producers from the marketplace. It’s not just the sale of raw milk that is under attack. It is about the authority of a local community to decide how to manage the sale of locally produced food. It is about food sovereignty. Do people have the right to independently produce food using methods of their own choosing and to sell that food to people who want their food grown or prepared according to those standards despite what state or national bureaucrats think is best?
Maine Department of Agriculture Actions Prove Safety of Raw Milk is NOT the Issue in Attacking Raw Milk Farmers
Raw milk safety is NOT the issue. It's all about government control. If safety were truly the issue, then why is the Maine Department of Agriculture allowing one farm to sell raw milk to the public for a simple $25.00 license, while denying a similar small farm who was following a local ordinance that did not require a license? Isn't time the anti-raw milk antagonists stop hiding behind the raw milk "safety" issue? The raw milk issue is not a safety issue. It is about government control. As the recent jury who acquitted Wisconsin farmer Vernon Hershberger from being guilty of providing milk to private club members without a state-approved license shows, the public is getting fed up with the government stance over licensing, and their treating peaceful farmers like illegal drug criminals. It is time for a Food Freedom Revolution!
Small-farm advocates in Augusta celebrated a key political victory after a legislative committee gave the green light to several bills that would relax state oversight and open local markets to unlicensed farmers and raw milk producers.
Maine’s food sovereignty movement took a hit when a state judge ruled earlier this week that farmer Dan Brown must have a license to sell raw milk, despite his town’s ordinance exempting local farmers from state food regulations. The State of Maine has spent considerable time prosecuting a farmer with only 2 cows for over 2 years for selling raw milk without a license, even though nobody ever complained or suffered from his milk. This ruling puts Farmer Dan out of business.
Brian Shilhavy, Editor
Health Impact News
Back in 2011 we reported the story of how one small Maine town passed a “Food Sovereignty” ordinance to allow the sale of locally produced food without interference of state or federal regulators. The town was Sedgwick, Maine, and you can read the story here: “Food Sovereignty” law passed in small Maine town to […]
by Baylen Linnekin
State laws permitting cottage foods are quickly catching up with the demand for looser regulations. Nearly three-dozen states now have cottage food laws in place. And advocates in other states—including Minnesota and Alabama—are pushing to add their states to the growing list.
While cottage food laws benefit home cooks and their customers, another […]
Health Impact News Editor Comments: Back in the summer of 2011 we covered the story of how local towns in Maine were passing “Food Sovereignty” laws to allow sale of locally produced food without interference of regulators. Read the story here.
Then on November 9, Dan Brown, a family farmer in Blue Hill, Maine, was served […]
From Representative Aaron Libby
House District 139
A Joint Resolution on Maine State Food Sovereignty passed unanimously [on June 10]. In essence a Joint Resolution has “no teeth” and does nothing. However I believe very strongly that this can and will send a message to the Federal government that we disapprove of their over regulation. […]