“There’s an uprising brewing in Maine over food rights. Like in other parts of the country, it started with regulator interference in a traditional part of small-farm life.
Heather Retberg, who with her husband runs a small farm in the coastal communmity of Penobscott, had built up a nice little business selling chickens to neighbors. She slaughtered the chickens at a neighbor’s regulator-approved facility for producers of less than 1,000 chickens annually.
But then last year, the Maine Department of Agriculture suddenly changed the rules covering farmers with less than 1,000 chickens, requiring that each farm have its own facility. There was an outcry around the state, and eventually the legislature reinstated the 1,000-chicken exemption…but in implementing the exemption, the MDA kept key obstacles in effect. Bottom line, Retberg was still prohibited from slaughtering the chickens at her neighbor’s and told she needed to construct her own $30,000 facility, or else have the chickens slaughtered at an approved facility many miles from her farm–all prohibitively expensive. Continue reading