Home Rule takes a beating as Maine defeats food freedom bills

By Rady Ananda
Food Freedom

In the state that made international news this year when three towns passed a food sovereignty ordinance, two bills that would have bolstered them at the state level met with defeat in Maine’s legislative Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee.

Sponsored by Rep. Walter Kumiega, LD 366 was rejected by the Ag Committee on May 11. The raw milk bill would have obviated licensing for the direct sale from farmer to consumer and protected small operations from overly burdensome rules recently imposed at the bureaucratic level.

“Requiring someone with two cows or a handful of goats to invest ten thousand dollars or more to build an inspectable facility doesn’t make economic sense,”  Kumiega told Food Freedom.  “Hand milking is a perfectly acceptable method and does not need the same facilities that a machine milking operation does. LD 366 seeks to restore an exemption that was a standard practice up until two years ago, when it was changed by an administrative decision.”

In response to the Ag Committee’s issuance of a Majority Ought Not to Pass report on LD 366, Kumiega requested a roll call, which showed that by a vote of 80-70, the House accepted the Ag Committee’s recommendation not to pass the bill.

The bill goes to the Senate now, and will come back to the House for another vote, he said, advising that he may work on an amendment with a member of the Ag Committee and run it again.

Also sponsored by Rep. Kumiega, LD 330, “An Act To Exempt Farm Food Products and Homemade Food Offered for Sale or for Consumption at Certain Events from Certain Licensing Requirements,” died in committee on April 7th.

Not just small farms are affected by government intrusion via hyper-regulation. Church suppers, potlucks, bake sales, Scout sales, lemonade stands, community picnics, and all traditional food sharing events must now follow strict “safety” protocols.  All food producers must be licensed, and all food must be sterilized and packaged, according to the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

“This violates hundreds of years of tradition,” local farmer Deborah Evans told the Food Rights Hour on April 16th. Evans was part of the group who spearheaded the food sovereignty ordinances.

Home Rule vs. Corporations

Prior to passage of the FSMA, Canada Health whistle blower Shiv Chopra warned it “would preclude the public’s right to grow, own, trade, transport, share, feed and eat each and every food that nature makes.  It will become the most offensive authority against the cultivation, trade and consumption of food and agricultural products of one’s choice. It will be unconstitutional and contrary to natural law or, if you like, the will of God.” It looks like he was right.

But, if any state has a chance of succeeding in bucking the FSMA, it’s Maine, with one of the strongest Home Rule traditions in the nation, backed up by Constitutional and statutory authority. “Home Rule” states allow local municipalities self-government on community issues.

Not only did a Maine town become the first local government outside California to ban GMO crops, but Maine towns have also passed ordinances banning corporate water extraction. A hotbed of “radicals” – you know, people who protect their environment – would naturally be the first in the nation to assert food sovereignty.

Though the food sovereignty ordinance passed unanimously in Sedgwick and Penobscot, with just a handful of nays in Blue Hill, in March and April, it was defeated in Brooksville by a vote of 161-152.

Brooksville was the only town to vote on the ordinance by ballot, rather than by a show of hands. Outrageously, the ballot was printed with the recommendation to vote against all proposed ordinances in the referendum. The biased ballot has prompted demands for a revote.

However, Maine, like all states, limits home rule through bureaucratic rule making. The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund explains that Home Rule is defeated in practice by “regulatory boards and agencies controlled by state legislatures and ‘special districts’ that are responsive to interested industries, but not community constituents.”

As if to prove CELDF’s point, Maine regulators openly scoffed at the food sovereignty election outcomes. Hal Prince, director of the Division of Quality Assurance and Regulation at the Maine Department of Agriculture, told Down East, “A town can’t pass an ordinance that frustrates state and federal laws.”

Apparently, the state loses inspection funding if it does not impose federal laws on food production and processing. The towns received a letter from the Maine Dept. of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources informing them that state law pre-empts the ordinances:

“[P]ersons who fail to comply will be subject to enforcement, including the removal from sale of products from unlicensed sources and/or the imposition of fines.”

But a closer look at Maine’s constitution, statutes and case law indicates that governance over local food production that is sold locally easily falls within Home Rule. A legal analysis prepared by Charles Bussell, Local Regulation of Genetically Modified Crops, concludes that Maine, California and several other states have strong enough Home Rule protections to pass such ordinances.

Surely, banning biotech is a hell of a lot harder than rejecting state intrusion on how local food sold locally is prepared.

When Montville banned genetically modified crops in 2008, the state sent a letter in that instance, too, claiming the ordinance is invalid – get this – on the grounds that GM corn is not a plant but a pesticide, and therefore regulated by the Board of Pesticide Control. The state also claimed the ordinance violated Maine’s Right to Farm law by regulating “best management practices.” The city asserted that it is not banning a farming operation but a farming product. Meanwhile, GM crops are no longer grown in Montville. (See pp. 12-21 for the ordinance, those letters, and background info of this State of Maine biotech collection.)

In its constitution at Article VIII, part 2, § 1, Maine grants municipalities home rule on matters “which are local and municipal in character.” But an enabling statute, Title 30-A, §3001, extends Home Rule beyond that which is “local and municipal in character” explains Bussell, who then cites a 1993 Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruling, School Committee of York v. Town of York, which bolstered Home Rule.

Bussel notes, “The statute makes clear that the power of municipalities in Maine is strong—their power is to be construed liberally with a rebuttable presumption that a municipal ordinance is valid.”

Maine statutes also specifically and strongly support small family farms, which Montville detailed in its ordinance banning GM crops, naming Title 7, Sections 1-A and 1-B. Here’s a tiny sampling of the language:

“The survival of the family farm is of special concern to the people of the State, and the ability of the family farm to prosper, while producing an abundance of high quality food and fiber, deserves a place of high priority in the determination of public policy.”

Requiring small family operations with just a few animals to build high tech facilities clearly abrogates public policy to allow family farms to prosper. That bureaucratic rule making defeats democracy is no surprise to Home Rule proponents. Despite the clear intent of the state legislature to protect the economy and character of small farms, the state Ag department has invoked food “safety” rules that small operations cannot afford. And that’s the point. Food “safety” is corpogov speak for destroying factory farm competition from small, family farms.

Deborah Evans also told Food Rights Hour that potentially hazardous foods – basically anything that requires refrigeration – must be made in a commercially licensed kitchen, which can cost $150-200,000 to build.

Another ordinance organizer, Bob St. Peter, told Food Chain Radio on April 9th that farms with less than a thousand chickens, previously exempt, now face a slurry of regulations including a ban on outdoor slaughter.

The new rules violate thousands of years of practice, not just in Maine but throughout the world, in favor of an industrialized system that has proven lethal and ecocidal. It is the centralized factory farm model which causes food poisoning and which is destroying the environment.

“I’m not willing to become a scapegoat for a system that seems to be breaking down and making people sick,” St. Peter objected. People patronize traditional farms because “it’s time tested to be safe and good for our communities.”

Rep. Kumiega agrees. “The great push for food safety regulations from the FDA and USDA is misguided and, by hurting small, local food producers, will in the end make our food supply less safe,” he told Food Freedom.

“These regulations are needed to make large food producers more safe, although they are arguably a failure, since studies show a majority of supermarket meats are contaminated with diseases ranging from E coli to MRSA.”

Since food “safety” rules violate Maine’s constitutional requirement to support family farms, as well as Home Rule (which is constitutionally and statutorily granted), Evans foresees the validity of the food sovereignty ordinance being decided at the Supreme Court.

One final note: a Food and Farm Freedom Rally is being held in Washington, D.C. on Monday, May 16 at 10 AM at the Upper Senate Park. Though initially organized in support of Dan Allgyer, one of many victims of FDA raids on raw dairy operations, the event has gained national momentum. Speakers include Sally Fallon Morell of Weston A. Price Foundation, author David Gumpert, and Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures Dairy.

In response to FDA actions, Congress Member Ron Paul has introduced HR 1830 to permit raw milk and dairy sales across state lines.

Last updated May 12

37 responses to “Home Rule takes a beating as Maine defeats food freedom bills

  1. Pingback: Home Rule takes a beating as Maine defeats food freedom bills | COTO Report

  2. So it appears that even in Maine democracy is an illusion. When people control their food supply, they are a free people. When the State (State worship is the new religion presided over by the new priesthood of scientific experts and technocrats) controls the food supply, the people are no longer free, and are soon to become serfs or wards of the State. Ironically, the Agenda 21 crowd seeks to portray themselves as environmentally friendly, but it is really about control. Factory farming puts the environment at risk and creates algae blooms with the concentration of toxic runoff with the water supply at risk. And all this provides a justification for increased regulation and control. Maybe that’s the point. The State and the UN cannot stand the idea of strong and independent family farmers producing quality and nutrient dense food for a healthy people. Uh Oh, another sacred shibboleth threatened, the health care system. People that eat good quality food tend to not get sick, etc. Loss of profits to medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies. According to Dr. Rima Laibow the UN has ruled that nutrients are toxins and must be removed by Codex Alimentarius as is being done in the EU. Farmer Brad sums it all up
    when he says that conventional farmers he knows will not eat what they produce, watch here: http://tinyurl.com/3eomdsz Talk about the proof is in the pudding or maybe better yet, “Garbage in, Garbage out.” As the Holy Bible states, we have sown the wind and are now reaping a whirlwind (Hosea 8:7), which seems could be entirely applicable to GMOs, with their potential risk to the environment. We need to support our local farmers and buy locally, especially because of high energy costs. And having a good quality local food supply is true food security.

  3. We are fast approaching the state of the ultimate inversion. The stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission – which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force. – Ayn Rand

    Doc Blake

    • with all the negative things I’ve read about Ayn Rand, I hesitate to admit that I wholly agree with that quote.

    • okay, I found the essay where that quote comes from…

      “[T]he government is creating a deadly, subterranean reign of uncertainty and fear, by means of nonobjective laws whose interpretation is left to the arbitrary decisions of random bureaucrats; instead of protecting men from injury by whim, the government is arrogating to itself the power of unlimited whim—so that we are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force.”
      December, 1963

      wow, her literary sexism is brutal… she writes as if humanity is comprised of a single gender, tho “The Feminine Mystique” was a blockbuster hit published in Feb. 1963.

      One of my writers at COTO Report recently published a scathing critique of Rand’s “anti government” stance, tho he related it to the market. And elsewhere I’ve read that neoliberals and neocons LOVE Ayn Rand’s work, using it to justify deregulation.

      Well, we see where Wall Street deregulation got us…

      But if you read her work thru the eyes of the individual, not the corporation — and she specifically discusses the individual, not corporations — her sentiment seems right on target.

      • The Feminine Mystique is one of the worst anti-homosexual rants in recent history. Why would you ever use that book to express equality between human beings?

        • Really? I haven’t read it in years and don’t recall that — but I suspect you are right given how NOW was so homophobic.

    • Hello Paul:
      Unfortunately, this quote is spot on. It’s even worst in Europe than in the States. I lived in Maine for over 6 years and enjoyed the many coops and organically, locally produced products. I saw New England and Maine especially as the last outpost for sensible living and used to think the same of Scandinavia, but that is over also.
      I recently viewed a video from the State of my birth which shows the truth of the quotation you sited. Here is a link for all who wish to view:


      Kind regards,

  4. Pingback: food » Blog Archive » Home Rule takes a beating as Maine defeats food freedom bills …

  5. Pingback: Home Rule takes a beating as Maine defeats food freedom bills (via Food Freedom) « Minnesota Coalition for Food Sovereignty

  6. Ayn Rand made a valid point as far as she went with the argument, but she completely ignored corporate/state collusion and monopoly.

  7. Pingback: Home Rule takes a beating as Maine defeats food freedom bills /  We know and will tell you all what really happened today

  8. Pingback: Local Food Soverignty Takes a Beating as Maine Defeats Food Freedom Bills | Health Impact News

  9. Article updated May 12 to include additional comments by Rep. Kumiega, and the news about HR 1830.

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  13. Pingback: UPDATED: Home Rule takes a beating as Maine defeats food freedom bills /  We know and will tell you all what really happened today

  14. Hello Rady:

    Oh, I forgot to thank you for bringing this information to our attention.

  15. Pingback: Home Rule Takes A Beating As Maine Defeats Food Freedom Bills : Veracity Voice – Independent Journalism for the Independent Mind

  16. Pingback: UPDATED: Home Rule takes a beating as Maine defeats food freedom bills » The Original N-D-N's Blog

  17. Pingback: Home Rule takes a beating as Maine defeats food freedom bills | War On You: Breaking Alternative News

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  25. Yes, Home rule is good
    And very important to
    Support food and health
    Safety of the people.
    One good example of
    What big food producers
    Do is to treat our meat , vegetable
    And fruit with chlorine
    Dioxide , a type of potent
    Bleach that when combined
    With Nitrogen makes a
    Very serious mutinagenic poison
    Called nitrogen mustard
    A band warfare gas ,as
    It takes a while for its
    Highly destructive effect
    To kick in , and it should
    Be said here that without
    Nitrogen there is no such
    Thing as protein so as
    The chlorine dioxide is
    Applied it combines with
    The pant or animal protein
    And is ready to cause
    Its next victim great
    Harm , some side effects
    Begin with yawning due
    UTo oxygen depletion ofIts host , fatugue

  26. Pingback: “Rady Ananda” – Food Bombs and Wall Street

  27. Pingback: Controversial ag spending bill defunds local food systems, promotes meat monopoly - Infowars Ireland

  28. Pingback: Real Revolutionaries - Infowars Ireland

  29. Pingback: Home Rule takes a beating as Maine defeats food freedom bills - Infowars Ireland

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