“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….”