(NaturalNews) A battle is erupting in Maine as state bureaucrats challenge the validity of the various food sovereignty bills recently passed by a handful of towns in the Pine Tree State. The bills override numerous provisions in the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that increase federal and state control over not only small farms, but also individuals and groups that grow, sell, prepare, or otherwise distribute food of any kind.
Some officials insist that local municipalities cannot go against state and federal mandates, but citizens who understand the infamous "Home Rule" system, which is a historical and respected precedent in Maine, have correctly pointed out that both constitutionally and statutorily, local communities can legally pass laws in contradiction to federal and state laws.
Maine's strong Home Rule tradition is what has allowed the state's towns to assert the power of self-government in all sorts of issues ranging from banning of genetically-modified (GM) crops in certain areas, to restricting corporate water extraction operations. In other words, Home Rule is what has historically protected towns from overarching government regulation and control, as well as abuses by corporate interests.
Concerning federal food safety legislation, many Maine residents and even politicians understand that retaining the freedom to grow, sell, and buy the food of one's choice without excessive government intervention is crucial to the survival of small, family farms. This is why they are vigorously defending the Home Rule precedent.
"The great push for food safety regulations from the FDA and USDA is misguided and, by hurting small, local food producers, will in the end make our food supply less safe," said Rep. Walter Kumiega, to Food Freedom. "These regulations are needed to make large food producers more safe, although they are arguably a failure, since studies show a majority of supermarket meats are contaminated with diseases ranging from E. coli to MRSA."
Kumiega sponsored LD 330, "An Act To Exempt Farm Food Products and Homemade Food Offered for Sale or for Consumption at Certain Events from Certain Licensing Requirements." The bill never made it out of committee, however.