Monday, March 7, 2011

First Maine town passes Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance

At least four towns in Maine will vote on the rights-based Local Food and Self-Governance Ordinance at their annual town meetings this spring--one town has already passed the measure. AfD'ers in the Blue Hill area have been working to get the ordinance before town meetings and build support among farmers and consumers.

The ordinance gives people the right to purchase food from a local family farm that has not been processed in a licensed and inspected facility. It also protects local farmers' markets and community events such as church suppers and school bake sales. It was necessitated by the recent attempts to enforce USDA standards created for large-scale agribusiness on small farms that have no way to pay for the new facilities they would need. Maine law says that the purpose of the Maine Dept. of Agriculture is to protect small family farming in the state.

The measure passed unanimously at the first town meeting vote in Sedgwick on Saturday. This week the measure will go to Town Meetings in Brooksville and Penobscot, and will be taken up by Blue Hill in April. Other area towns are also considering adding it to their warrants this year.

At the state level, District 36 representative Walter Kumiega has introduced two similar pieces of legislation, one to exempt raw milk from licensing if it's sold direct from the producer, and the second to expand this local ordinance statewide. Kumeiga said that access to "straight from the farm" food is important to his constituents, and that he had no trouble finding cosponsors for the bill.

You can read more here and here, and read the ordinance here.

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