Residents in the state of Maine are voting on November 2nd to determine whether or not people have a constitutional “right to food.”
According to Fox News, Maine’s “right to food” constitutional amendment would put people in charge of how and what they wish to eat. The amendment proposal is an outgrowth of the right-to-food movement. This is also considered the food sovereignty movement.
Supporters of the amendment explain it ensures the right to grow vegetables and raise livestock. Instead of relying on corporatization. which reportedly threatens local food supply ownership.
Meanwhile, Maine voters who oppose the amendment say it is “deceptively” vague. It also represents a “threat” to food safety as well as animal welfare. It can also embolden residents in cities like Portland and Bangor to raise cows in their own backyards.
Maine Republican Representative, Billy Bob Faulkingham, stated the amendment is described as the “second amendment of food.” He explained it’s also a “common sense” amendment. The amendment does ensure that the government is unable to stop others from doing things such as saving and exchanging seeds.
“There’s a lot of disturbing trends in the food category. With the power and control that corporations are taking over our food,” the Maine representative and commercial lobster fisherman explained. “We want to protect people’s ability to grow gardens, grow and raise their own food.”
Faulkingham and other supporters further explain that the amendment is a response to growing corporate ownership of the food supply. The representative also shares the amendment is a way to “wrest control” of food from landowners and giant retailers.
Maine Voters Who Oppose the ‘Right to Food’ Amendment Speak Out
Meanwhile, Fox News spoke to Julie Ann Smith, executive director of the Maine Farm Bureau, which is the largest farms advocacy organization in the state, about the amendment. Smith argues that the amendment’s language is “so broad” that it could make food supply actually less safe.
Smith further explains her stance against the Maine amendment by noting that potatoes, blueberries, maple syrup, and dairy products are key economy pieces.
“We think it’s very dangerous to have the words to consume the food of your own choosing. That is so broad and dangerous. It has the potential to cause serious problems in food safety, animal welfare.”
Smith then stated that the farm bureau remains concerned that the amendment may override local ordinances. This will prevent residents from raising livestock anywhere they choose. Faulkingham disagrees with Smith’s stance. He says that local rules will still apply. The amendment would not mean people can raise animals or fish commercially without a license.
Mark Brewer, a political scientist with the University of Maine, agrees with the criticism of the amendment being vague and unclear.
“I’d be more interested in how it could play out in the courts. If you raise cattle within the cities limits when the city laws say you can’t, but the Constitution says you can. Then what happens?”