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Maine Town Passes Landmark Local Food Ordinance

The following press release was provided by Food for Maine’s Future on March 7th.

SEDGWICK,  MAINE – On Saturday, March 5, residents of a small coastal town in  Maine voted unanimously to adopt the Local Food and Self-Governance  Ordinance, setting a precedent for other towns looking to preserve  small-scale farming and food processing. Sedgwick, located on the Blue Hill Peninsula in Western Hancock County, became the first town in  Maine, and perhaps the nation, to exempt direct farm sales from state and federal licensing and  inspection. The ordinance also exempts foods made in the home kitchen,  similar to the Michigan Cottage Food Law passed last year, but without  caps on gross sales or restrictions on types of exempt foods.

Local farmer Bob St.Peter noted the importance of this ordinance for beginning farmers and cottage producers.  “This ordinance creates favorable conditions for beginning farmers and  cottage-scale food processors to try out new products, and to make the  most of each season’s bounty,” said St.Peter. “My family is already  working on some ideas we can do from home to help pay the  bills and get our farm going.”

Mia Strong, Sedgwick resident and local farm patron, was  overwhelmed by the support of her town. “Tears of joy welled in my eyes  as my town voted to adopt this ordinance,” said Strong. “I am so proud of my  community. They made a stand for local food and our fundamental rights as citizens to choose that food.”

St.Peter, who serves on the  board of the National Family Farm Coalition, based in Washington, DC,  sees this as a model ordinance for economic development in rural areas.  “It’s tough making a go of it in rural America,” said St.Peter. “Rural  working people have always had to do a little of this and a little of  that to make ends meet. But up until the last couple generations, we  didn’t need a special license or new facility each time we wanted to  sell something to our neighbors. Small farmers and producers have been  getting squeezed out in the name of food safety, yet it’s the industrial  food that is causing food borne illness, not us.”

“And every food dollar that leaves our community is one more dollar we don’t have to pay for our rural schools or to provide decent care for our elders,” adds St.Peter. “We need the money more than corporate agribusiness.”

Three other towns in Western Hancock County will be voting on the  ordinance at or ahead of their town meetings in the coming weeks. Penobscot,  Brooksville, and Blue Hill all have the ordinance on their warrants.

Click here to view a copy of the Local Food and Self-Governance Ordinance of 2011.

Read the full article at Food for Maine’s Future.


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