In a challenge to the Local Food & Community Self-Governance Ordiance, a local Maine farmer is being sued by the State of Maine and the Agricultural Commission:
Since March of this year, five towns in Maine have passed the Local Food & Community Self-Governance Ordinance, creating legal protections for direct food and farm sales and food shared at bake sales and community meals. From the beginning, Maine Agricultural Commissioner Walter Whitcomb has been telling towns that State law preempts the authority of municipalities to make local laws that conflict with state and federal laws and regulations. In a letter dated April 6, 2011 that was sent to Maine towns where the Ordinance was passed, Commissioner Whitcomb stated “Department personnel are instructed to work with unlicensed food processors or manufacturers to gain their voluntary compliance with the law.” The letter goes on to say, “However, persons who fail to comply will be subject to enforcement, including the removal from sale of products from unlicensed sources and/or the imposition of fines.” Now in the case of one of our local family farmers, subject to lawsuit and injunction.
On Wednesday, November 9, Dan Brown, owner of Gravelwood Farm in Blue Hill, Maine, was served notice that he is being sued by the State of Maine and Walter Whitcomb, Maine Agricultural Commissioner, for selling food and milk without state licenses. Blue Hill is one of five Maine towns to have passed the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance, a local law that permits the types of sales Brown was engaged in. By filing the lawsuit, the State of Maine and Whitcomb are disregarding the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance passed nearly unanimously by the citizens of Blue Hill at their town meeting on April 4. Residents of Blue Hill will be attending the Selectmen’s meeting on Friday, November 18 to enforce the provisions of the Ordinance by instructing the Town of Blue Hill to send a letter to the Maine Department of Agriculture requesting the State withdraw the lawsuit and recognize the authority of the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance.
A rally and press conference will take place Friday, November 18th, at the Blue Hill Town Hall beginning at noon.
For more information: www.localfoodlocalrules.org