Maine towns’ food sovereignty laws to be tested in upcoming court case

From David E. Gumpert, on the Complete Patient blog:

“I’ve spent the last few days reading through the most recent filings in the Maine Food Sovereignty case.

If the potential importance of a food rights case could be measured in the heavy weight of the many pages of these initial arguments, this is a serious case. In this initial phase, each side has moved for summary judgment–that the judge in the case decide in its favor as a matter of law.  

In the 170-plus pages (I’ve included in the link here the most recent 75 pages, in which the sides are answering each other’s previous arguments), lawyers for the Maine Attorney General spar with defense lawyers for Blue Hill farmer Dan Brown over whether Food Sovereignty ordinances passed by Blue Hill and seven other towns in the state, which allow farmers to sell food directly to individuals, without having to worry about state regulations, should be allowed to stand. Lawyers for Brown, including Gary Cox of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, argue that the state effectively allowed the private sale of raw milk by small farms that didn’t advertise, for many years prior to 2009; that’s when it began targeting all raw dairies for licensing.

Central to the case, the lawyers offer their divergent interpretations about Maine’s home rule provisions, which allow wide municipal independence. Brown’s lawyers argue that the Maine constitution, and home rule laws growing out of it, provide clear precedence for Maine towns to enact laws independent of state regs. The state argues, essentially, that the home rule provisions were never intended to be applied so as to interfere with the state’s broad powers to regulate food, and especially dairy. Food, after all, is a special area, since it is so dangerous….”

More on The Complete Patient blog.



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5 responses to “Maine towns’ food sovereignty laws to be tested in upcoming court case

  1. “….Maine’s home rule provisions, which allow wide municipal independence. …”
    Very interesting.

    I would bet money that the Maine Constitution like the US Constitution does NOT delegate to the State the power to regulate what one puts into their body.

    I would argue, that even if it did, that it would illegitimate as a power that the citizen does not have can not be delegated to the State, or anyone else for that matter. What foods I eat is an inalienable right. I can not tell my neighbor what to eat so how can I have ever delegate a power I do not have to the State?

    People also have an absolute right to contract with one another.

    If we had anything that even closely resembled proper, and legitimate government, any one of the above 3 arguments would vindicate these towns. But then again Government rather than being the protector of rights has become the destroyer of rights.

    • rawmilkmike

      The state regulates on behalf of the consumer. It’s authority comes from the consumer. How can they legally ignore the consumers wises. In Wisconsin the sole purpose of our regulations are to eliminate misbranding and unfair business practices yet the state seems to think their job is the exact opposite.

  2. Did not know where to out this link but I find in seminal and hope you spread it:

    The first step toward liberty – seeing that state authority deserves no pass in moral scrutiny

  3. rawmilkmike

    First of all, I thought it was common practice for local government to in act its own regulations, just as the state does.

    Next they us the word important. If bacterial contamination were an important issue, that would be all the more reason that the consumer and the local government would have the final word, rather than an under staffed state agency with admitted ties to the food processing industries. The food processing industries being a direct competitor to anyone selling raw healthy food, there being no question that processed foods are unhealthy. But bacterial contamination is not an important issue especially when it comes to raw milk and especially direct farm sales and especially when the only complaints come from competing businesses. It is only raw milk competitors that say a person could get diarrhea from raw milk and doctors who, by the way, are one of raw milks most fierce competitors, admits that diarrhea is not a serious illness and is in fact the most common illnesses in the united states.

    The next words “factual determination”; The fact that the customers are getting exactly what they came for, says it all, because that is the only purpose for the regulations in the first place. All the testimonials, no matter how convincing are not really necessary or even relevant. The kids are calling, I’ll be back.

  4. David, continuing on my reading of Maine-Summary raw milk Judg-8-12.pdf:

    Pg 4. They us the phrase “depending on the totality of the particular circumstances”. That is exactly what the people of the state are asking the court to do, step back and look at the big picture.

    The state regulates on behalf of the consumer. It’s authority comes from the consumer. How can they legally ignore the consumers wishes. In Wisconsin the sole purpose of our regulations are to eliminate misbranding and unfair business practices yet the state seems to think their job is the exact opposite.

    I don’t believe the state has ever said they have the the authority to stop us from buying raw food. They simple insist that they have the authority to stop someone from selling it. They choose to ignore the spirit and intent of the law and forget who they work for. They pick and choose the laws they want to enforce and sometimes even break them. These laws were written to insure food choice not prevent it.

    They also say the estoppel “should only be carefully and sparingly applied”. Well I can’t think of a more appropriate time. This is precisely what this law was written for.

    Again they us the word “important” and then the phrase “serious public health consequences”. There are nearly a billion cases of diarrhea a year in the US. Only a few dozen are being blamed on raw milk. That’s nothing, with three percent of the people in the eleven states where raw milk is illegal still drinking it and probably twenty percent in the states where it’s legal. Remember these accusations come from raw milk competitors. If this were the criteria for making a product illegal everything would be, but in fact nothing is, including raw milk.

    Then they say chapter 329 protects the public health and welfare. Well, that isn’t their job but if it were they would certainly have to ban the pasteurization of anything sold as food for human consumption. Just look up why doctors warn against feeding pasteurized milk to infants, furthermore when they recommend breast milk they are actually recommending raw milk aren’t they? I think most Americans know that pasteurized dairy products cause cancer, heart diseases, arthritis, allergies, osteoporosis, and serious diarrhea. Now that’s a what I call “serious public health consequences”. Not even the raw milk competitors are accusing raw milk of that. So in actuality this issue is much more important than the state says it is. When it comes to evidence all you need to do is apply a little logic to the states own expert testimony.

    Lastly they talk about inspections, inspections designed for pasteurized milk which are not needed or wanted by the raw milk consumers. What would be the purpose of a monthly state inspection of a totally transparent operation where the consumer buys direct from the farm weekly. The state inspections do not address any of the issues which concern health minded consumers.

    Also it looks like they’re repeating themselves already and we’re only on page four.

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