Photo: mollypop (flickr)
Deregulation Of The Local Food Industry
This month, three Maine towns – Sedgwick, Penobscot, and Blue Hill – have passed Food Freedom ordinances which declare that the Federal food laws do not apply to the towns’ local food practices.
Sedgwick’s Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance serves as a model for other communities that are looking to deregulate their local food industries. According to the unanimously passed document:
We, the People of the Town of Sedgwick, Hancock County, Maine, have the right to produce, process, sell, purchase and consume local foods thus promoting self-reliance, the preservation of family farms, and local food traditions.
The ordinance says that they can do this without following Federal rules that apply to foods shipped around the state and country.
Supporters of the bill say that the Food Freedom ordinance is protected by Maine’s Constitution as well as the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The 10th Amendment declares that the federal government may not exert any power not specifically granted by the Constitution.
These Maine residents feel that local food production and sales do not fall within the Federal government’s jurisdiction, and that the deregulation of local food systems is a constitutional right. They continue that by allowing local food trade to be free of governmental restrictions, small farmers and people making food out of their homes will be able to provide nutritious, healthy, high-quality food to other local residents without having to jump through prohibitive and costly amounts of governmental licensing and inspection.
The most immediately noticeable effects of the ordinance will likely be found in farmers markets and out-of-home food sales, as well as local sales of controversial foods like raw milk.
However, the Nonprofit Quarterly warns that “local efforts to override state and federal policies can cut like a two edged sword, undermining locally unpopular but nationally vetted goals.”
This ordinance may go against provisions of the recently passed Food Safety Bill that seeks to protect consumers from food-borne illnesses. It may even pave the way for towns to abolish other non-food related federal controversial legislation that aims to protect citizens.