Author Topic: Sedgwick Maine declares local food sovereignty for raw milk, meat etc.  (Read 859 times)

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Offline Rudi Jan

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Maine Town Becomes First in US to Declare Food Sovereignty

Posted March 17, 2011

The town of Sedgwick, Maine, population 1,012 (according to the 2000 census), has become the first town in the United States to pass a Food Sovereignty ordinance.  In doing so, the town declared their right to produce and sell local foods of their choosing, without the oversight of State or federal regulation. 

What does this mean?  In the debate over raw milk, for example, the law opens the gate for consumer and producer to enter a purchasing agreement without interference from state or federal health regulators.  According to the Mayo Clinic, a 1987 FDA regulation required that all milk be pasteurized to kill pathogens such as salmonella and E. coli.  The Sedgwick ordinance declares that:

Producers or processors of local foods in the Town of Sedgwick are exempt from licensure and inspection provided that the transaction is only between the producer or processor and a patron when the food is sold for home consumption. This includes any producer or processor who sells his or her products at farmers’ markets or roadside stands; sells his or her products through farm-based sales directly to a patron; or delivers his or her products directly to patrons.

In short, the ordinance allows buyer and seller to enter their own agreement which overrides the regulation of government when dealing with transactions involving local foods.

This four page ordinance, which can be read in its entirety here, is revolutionary in that it relies on the consumer to educate themselves on the risk of consuming products (such as raw milks, cheeses, meats and vegetables), and shifts the power away from regulation, which prevents people from eating food of their choosing.

 How does the ordinance accomplish this?  It references three key documents:

    - The United States Constitution, which declares that the government derives its power from the consent of the governed (in this case, the governed want their raw milk and local meat!)

    - The Maine Constitution, and in particular Article I, § 2, which declares that all power of government is inherent in the people, who may alter, change or reform it if their happiness requires (again, raw milk = happy people!) and;

    - The Maine Revised Statutes and in particular §3001 of Title 30-A which grants municipalities the right to regulate health, safety, and welfare (which will sound familiar to urban planners) and §211 of Title 7 which states “it is the policy of the State to encourage food self-sufficiency for the State.”

This is huge news, and Grown in the City will be tracking the story in various ways in the coming weeks.

Sedgwick Maine declares local food sovereignty for raw milk, meat etc.

by thebovine | March 7, 2011 · 3:38 pm

From David E. Gumpert on the Complete Patient blog:

Painting by Cheryl Bartley. Click image to go to her website. (via Food Freedom blog)

“…On Friday evening, they became perhaps the first locale in the country to pass a “Food Sovereignty” law. It’s the proposed ordinance I first described last fall, when I introduced the “Five Musketeers”, a group of farmers and consumers intent on pushing back against overly aggressive agriculture regulators. The regulators were interfering with farmers who, for example, took chickens to a neighbor for slaughtering, or who sold raw milk directly to consumers.

The proposed ordinance was one of 78 being considered at the Sedgwick town meeting, that New England institution that has stood the test of time, allowing all of a town’s citizens to vote yea or nay on proposals to spend their tax money and, in this case, enact potentially far-reaching laws with national implications. They’ve been holding these meetings in the Sedgwick town hall (pictured above) since 1794. At Friday’s meeting, about 120 citizens raised their hands in unanimous approval of the ordinance.

Citing America’s Declaration of Independence and the Maine Constitution, the ordinance proposed that “Sedgwick citizens possess the right to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing.” These would include raw milk and other dairy products and locally slaughtered meats, among other items.

This isn’t just a declaration of preference. The proposed warrant added, “It shall be unlawful for any law or regulation adopted by the state or federal government to interfere with the rights recognized by this Ordinance.” In other words, no state licensing requirements prohibiting certain farms from selling dairy products or producing their own chickens for sale to other citizens in the town.

What about potential legal liability and state or federal inspections? It’s all up to the seller and buyer to negotiate. “Patrons purchasing food for home consumption may enter into private agreements with those producers or processors of local foods to waive any liability for the consumption of that food. Producers or processors of local foods shall be exempt from licensure and inspection requirements for that food as long as those agreements are in effect.” Imagine that–buyer and seller can agree to cut out the lawyers. That’s almost un-American, isn’t it?…”

RW - posted as a 'better late than never' reported article.
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Offline Sue

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- Sedgwick Maine declares local food sovereignty for raw milk, meat etc.
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2013, 01:09:43 PM »
RW - posted as a 'better late than never' reported article.

This is a start in the right direction. Sometimes it just takes a spark...
"At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to state this or that or the other, but it is "not done".
...Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with.