Do you have a constitutional right to food?Main to decide

Portland, Maine – Depending on who you ask, Maine’s proposed “right to food” constitutional amendment only puts people accountable for how they eat and eat. Alternatively, endanger animals and food supplies and turn urban neighborhoods into cattle pastures.

For supporters, the words are short and sensible, guaranteeing the right to grow vegetables and raise livestock in an era when commercialization threatens local ownership of food supplies. This is a constitutional experiment that has never been attempted in any state.

For opponents and skeptics, it is seemingly ambiguous, represents a threat to food safety and animal welfare, and may encourage residents to raise cattle in the backyards of cities such as Portland and Bangor. ..

In the November 2 election, voters will be asked if they agree with the amendment to the Maine Constitution. For their own nutrition, nutrition, physical health and well-being. “


The proposal is essentially a “second amendment,” said Republican lawmaker Billy Bob Faulkingham, who proposed the amendment, likening it to a US constitutional amendment that guarantees armed rights.

He says it’s a common-sense amendment to prevent the government from preserving or exchanging seeds without infringing public or property rights.

“There are many disturbing trends in the food category due to the power and control of companies to take over our food,” said Forkingham, who is also a commercial lobster fisherman. “We want to grow the garden, grow our food, and protect the abilities of those who grow it.”

Forkingham and colleagues said the amendment was a response to increased corporate ownership of food supplies. They see this amendment as a way to deprive landowners and giant retailers of food control.

However, Julie Anne Smith, managing director of the Maine Department of Agriculture, the state’s largest peasant advocacy group, argued that the wording of the amendment was too broad to reduce the safety of food supplies. ..


She said it was a problem when potatoes, blueberries, maple syrup and dairy products were all important parts of the economy. Smith is concerned that the amendment could allow residents to purchase and consume food that is not subject to inspection, proper refrigeration, or other safety checks.

I think it’s very dangerous to use the phrase “eat the food of your choice”. It’s very widespread and dangerous, “Smith said. “It can cause serious problems in food safety and animal welfare.”

Mr Smith also said he was concerned that the amendment could invalidate local ordinances that prevent residents from raising livestock in places of their choice.

Proponents of the proposal, including Forkingham, said local rules would continue to be enforced and that the amendment did not mean that chickens could be raised wherever you wanted or that you could fish commercially without permission.


The amendments are a by-product of the food rights movement, sometimes referred to as the food sovereignty movement, which has recently expanded in Maine and the states around the United States and Canada.

The movement consists of patchwork of smallholders, milk lovers, liberals, back-to-the-land movement advocates, anti-enterprise, and others who want to ensure regional control of the food system. increase.

In 2017, Maine enacted the country’s first food sovereignty law. The law allows local governments to approve small food producers who sell directly to local customers. The law was particularly popular with sellers of raw milk that could be legally sold in Maine, but it is more restrictive in many other states.

The national food sovereignty movement has created similar legislation in states, including Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, and North Dakota, and is pushing for the same elsewhere.


Mark Brewer, a political scientist at the University of Maine, said the amendment was likely to gain support among the self-sufficient and practical Yankee sets in Maine.

However, Brewer agreed with the criticism that the proposed amendments were so vague that it was unclear what would actually happen.

“I’m more interested in how it works in court,” Brewer said. “If you want to raise cattle in the city area when the city law says you can’t do it, but the constitution says you can, what happens?”

For Heather Letberg, a farmer in the small town of Penobscot, the concern about the appearance of cattle in the city is a ridiculous distraction from the real goal of the proposal.

Letberg, who owns a 100-acre farm with beef, pork, chicken and goats, said the proposal was “an antidote to corporate management of our food supply” and that rural areas were self-sufficient in what foods they had. He said it was an opportunity to be able to do it. They grow up and eat.


It’s also an opportunity to tackle the state’s “food desert” problem, where residents don’t have adequate access to healthy food, Letberg said.

“This shifts authority to individuals within the framework of rights, not companies,” says Retberg. “It gives us more voice about how we want our food system to look and how we want our community to look.”

Copyright 2021 AP communication. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

Do you have a constitutional right to food?Main to decide

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