The Maine town of Sedgwick took an interesting step that brings a new dynamic to the movement to maintain sovereignty: Town-level nullification. Last Friday, the town passed a proposed ordinance that would empower the local level to grow and sell food amongst themselves without interference from unconstitutional State or Federal regulations. Beyond that, the passed ordinance would make it unlawful for agents of either the State or Federal government to execute laws that interfere with the ordinance.
Under the new ordinance, producers and processors are protected from licensure or inspection in sales that are sold for home consumption between them and a patron, at farmer’s market, or at a roadside stand. The ordinance specifically notes the right of the people to food freedom, as well as citing the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Maine Constitution in defending the rights of the people.
Local farmer and member of the National Family Farm Coalition Bob St. Peter noted “Rural working people have always had to do a little of this and a little of that to make ends meet. But up until the last couple generations, we didn’t need a special license or new facility each time we wanted to sell something to our neighbors. Small farmers and producers have been getting squeezed out in the name of food safety, yet it’s the industrial food that is causing food borne illness, not us.”
Also, ordinances similar to this one will be going before a vote in three other Maine towns: Penobscott, Brooksville, and Blue Hill.
The text of the “Local Food And Community Self-Governance Ordinance of 2011″, which was passed unanimously, can be found here.
The Food Sovereignty movement has been growing, as it gained a boost with the U.S. Senate bill S. 510: “The Food Safety Modernization Act.” Georgia, Montana, North Carolina, Utah, and Wyoming have introduced legislation that, if passed, would nullify Federal laws that unconstitutionally affect food that does not cross state lines. Maine Representative Walter Kumiega (D-Deer Isle) has also taken the lead in the Legislature for food freedom with L.D. 263, which would exempt people from licensing requirements when engaging in sales that are local, such as at farmer’s markets.