Maine voters to decide on ‘right to food’ referendum | Maine


(The Center Square) – Voters in Maine go to the polls on Tuesday to decide whether the state will become the first in the country to include a “right to food” in its constitution.

question 3 in the November 2 ballot, voters will ask if they wish to amend the state constitution to “declare that all individuals have the natural, inherent and inalienable right to cultivate, raise, harvest, produce and keep. consume the food of their choice on their own account. food, subsistence, bodily health and well-being? “

Supporters say the move would favor locally produced food products and improve consumer health and safety.

“This amendment strengthens the inalienable right of the people to produce food for their own consumption – not to steal, not to trespass, not to poach… but to produce food for their own consumption,” said Billy Bob. Faulkingham, R-Winter. Harbor, said in testimony in support of the proposal.

The Sportsmen’s Alliance of Maine, which is among groups supporting the referendum, said a constitutional amendment on the right to food would help hunters, farmers and fishermen who are losing out to renewable energy projects and business interests.

“Productive farmland is disappearing to be replaced by the development of federally and state-subsidized solar energy,” the group wrote in a statement on social media urging voters to endorse Question 3. “The Development of commercial wind power at sea is poised to drive fishermen to productive fishing soils and sprawl threaten natural forests around the world. “

The group said approval of Question 3 “will enshrine in the most basic form of law their right to make their own choices for food and their families.”

Critics say the proposal is loosely written and could lead to fights over food resources and erode hard-fought animal welfare protections.

“We do not believe that the intention of this proposal is to allow food producers and / or hunters, trappers and fishermen to be exempt from animal welfare and cruelty laws, but as ‘It is currently written, that would likely be the case the current list of limitations does not include any reference to such laws,’ said Katie Hansberry, state director of the Humane Society of the United States.

The environmental group said a right to food could also encourage poachers to target protected wildlife and push the limits of hunting regulations.

“It may also allow poachers to sue arguing that such a constitutional right to hunt exempts existing restrictions such as bag limits or prohibiting the use of artificial lights or hunting on a public road. paved, ”Hansberry said in testimony.

If voters approve the changes, the state constitution would be amended to state: “All people have a natural, inherent and inalienable right to food, including the right to save and exchange seeds and the right to cultivate, breed, harvest, produce and consume. the food of their choice for their diet, livelihood, bodily health and well-being. “

The new law would also prohibit “the intrusion, theft, poaching or other abuse of private property rights, public lands or natural resources in the harvest, production or acquisition of food.”

In 2017, voters in Maine approved the Food Sovereignty Law, which allowed towns and villages to pass local maintenance orders. At least 90 communities have adopted the law.

At least two other states, West Virginia and Washington, are also considering constitutional amendments to the right to food, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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