Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Maine Towns Fight Back Against Big Government by Declaring Food Sovereignty

Last year, 120 citizens from the town of Sedgwick, Maine banned together and voted unanimously to pass a food sovereignty law.

Citing America’s Declaration of Independence and the Maine Constitution, the ordinance proposed that “Sedgwick citizens possess the right to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing.” These would include raw milk and other dairy products and locally slaughtered meats, among other items.  The law further stated that “It shall be unlawful for any law or regulation adopted by the state or federal government to interfere with the rights recognized by this Ordinance.” In other words, the state and federal government should stay out of their business.

Inspired by this bold action, four other Maine towns, including the town of Blue Hill, followed Sedgwick’s lead, passing similar laws.

Fast-forward a year, and now the Maine Agricultural Commissioner is filing a lawsuit against Dan Brown, a family farmer in Blue Hill, Maine for exercising his rights under the food sovereignty law passed in Blue Hill.  According to Agricultural Commissioner Whitcomb, “state law preempts the authority of municipalities to make local laws that conflict with state and federal laws and regulations.”

The State’s challenge of the food sovereignty law raises what I believe to be one of the most important questions of our time ─ who gets to decide the rules that affect our local food system?I don’t know how this legal battle will play out, but what I do know is that I would much rather have local governments and their citizens calling the shots when it comes to the rights of people to consume local, farm-fresh foods. After all, we’ve seen numerous examples in recent years of what happens when Big Food and Big Government control our food chain (Pink Slime, Superbugs, genetically engineered foods, mandated diets, etc.)
I applaud the efforts of these towns and their citizens for fighting back in an attempt to regain the food freedoms so desperately needed and desired by private citizens across our country.