Governor LePage Signs Local 'Food Sovereignty' Bill Into Law
Governor Paul LePage has signed into law a measure that gives municipalities the authority to regulate local food systems without state intervention, so-called food sovereignty.
Under the measure, cities and towns can pass ordinances allowing food or food products that are grown, produced or processed by individuals within the municipality to be sold directly to consumers in face to face transactions.
Any food or food products sold outside of the municipality intended for wholesale or retail distribution have to comply with state and federal guidelines.
“When we need regulation and inspection to kick in is when you’re selling to people who don’t know you and don’t know what you farm looks like and what your kitchens look like and whether they want to buy your food or not,” says Betsy Garrold, acting Executive Director of Food for Maine’s Future. “You know when you get out into the wholesale market then somebody needs to be looking at that.”
Garrold says she sees the measure as a way for young farmers to get started by decreasing the hurdles they face.
“They get in on the bottom floor and then with fewer government regulations and restrictions on what they can do, selling to their neighbors, they are able to build the capital so that eventually they are able to expand their business into a wholesale business, if they want to,” she says.
She says currently there are 20 Maine municipalities that have passed local food sovereignty ordinances.