The MAINE FOOD SOVEREIGNTY ACT

It has been a few challenging, encouraging, and frustrating years since The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Conservation was created. Numerous bills to establish statewide food sovereignty were presented and failed to pass. But the number of towns adopting local food sovereignty ordinances continued to grow in spite of opposition from legislators and lobbyists.

Finally after dogged pursuit of the home rule right of towns to exert some control over local foods, the Legislature passed a bill recognizing the validity of those ordinances. Following a challenge from the USDA regarding control of meat and poultry, The MAINE FOOD SOVEREIGNTY ACT was passed and signed into law.

Maine Revised Statutes

Title 7: AGRICULTURE AND ANIMALS
Chapter 8-F: MAINE FOOD SOVEREIGNTY ACT

§281. SHORT TITLE

This chapter may be known and cited as “the Maine Food Sovereignty Act

§282. DEFINITIONS

As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings.

  1. Direct producer-to-consumer transaction.  “Direct producer-to-consumer transaction” means a face-to-face transaction involving food or food products.
  1. Food or food products.  “Food or food products” means food or food products intended for human consumption, including, but not limited to, milk or milk products, meat or meat products, poultry or poultry products, fish or fish products, seafood or seafood products, cider or juice, acidified foods or canned fruits or vegetables.
  1. State food law.  “State food law” means any provision of this Title or Title 22 that regulates direct producer-to-consumer transactions.
§283. STATEMENT OF POLICY; LOCAL CONTROL AND RURAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

It is the policy of this State to encourage food self-sufficiency for its citizens. The department shall support policies that:

  1. Local control.  Through local control, preserve the ability of communities to produce, process, sell, purchase and consume locally produced foods;
  1. Small-scale farming and food production.  Ensure the preservation of family farms and traditional foodways through small-scale farming and food production;
  1. Improved health and well-being.  Improve the health and well-being of citizens of this State by reducing hunger and increasing food security through improved access to wholesome, nutritious foods by supporting family farms and encouraging sustainable farming and fishing;
  1. Self-reliance and personal responsibility.  Promote self-reliance and personal responsibility by ensuring the ability of individuals, families and other entities to prepare, process, advertise and sell foods directly to customers intended solely for consumption by the customers or their families; and
  1. Rural economic development.  Enhance rural economic development and the environmental and social wealth of rural communities.
§284. HOME RULE AUTHORITY

Pursuant to the home rule authority granted to municipalities by Title 30-A, section 3001 and by the Constitution of Maine, Article VIII, Part Second, and notwithstanding any provision of state food law to the contrary, except as contained in section 285, a municipality may adopt ordinances regarding direct producer-to-consumer transactions and the State shall recognize such ordinances by not enforcing those state food laws with respect to those direct producer-to-consumer transactions that are governed by the ordinance. [2017,

§285. DEPARTMENTAL AUTHORITY; LIVESTOCK AND POULTRY

Notwithstanding any provision in this chapter to the contrary, the department shall implement and enforce all provisions of Title 22, chapter 562-A and the rules adopted thereunder that are necessary to ensure that the requirements of the State’s meat and poultry products inspection and licensing program are at least equal to the applicable requirements specified under applicable federal acts, as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture or other federal agencies, without exception. [2017, c. 314, §1

§286. COMPLIANCE WITH FOOD SAFETY REGULATIONS

An individual who grows, produces, processes or prepares food or food products for purposes other than direct producer-to-consumer transactions in a municipality that adopts or amends an ordinance pursuant to section 284 shall grow, produce, process or prepare the food or food products in compliance with all applicable state and federal food safety laws, rules and regulations.

All copyrights and other rights to statutory text are reserved by the State of Maine. The text included in this publication reflects changes made through the First Special Session of the 128th Maine Legislature and is current through November 1, 2017. The text is subject to change without notice. It is a version that has not been officially certified by the Secretary of State. Refer to the Maine Revised Statutes Annotated and supplements for certified text.