At our last meeting (May 7th at Fuzzy Udder Creamery in Unity) we had a guest join our group — G. W. Martin, of Montville, who had worked to get his town to adopt the “Food Sovereignty Ordinance” that several other towns in Maine have passed in the last few years. He also marched on the State House on April 17th in support of “Farmer Brown” who is being prosecuted for selling unlicensed dairy products to the public. Martin had been invited to the Guild meeting by Jessie Dowling of Fuzzy Udder to try to provide some perspective to the Guild about the concern of food producers and farmers who feel that state licensing is an impediment to supporting their local communities by producing food for their neighbors.
Even though the discussion was not on the agenda for the meeting, there was a lot of interest expressed by the group to hear from Martin about his perspective, as well as to educate Martin about why the Guild has adopted a Quality Statement insisting that state licensing be the minimum level of oversight for any commercial cheese maker in Maine to insure the quality of their products.
Nothing was resolved except to continue the discussion. Martin said that although he was unable to persuade his town to adopt the Ordinance about local sovereignty over their food supply, he said that he hoped a different motion that was adopted by Montville might be a model for other food producers to support, hopefully resulting in a complete revision in the State’s approach food regulations based on this resolution. Martin did not have a copy of the resolution with him at the meeting, and I asked him to send me a copy of it for my own education. And although the third paragraph of this resolution clearly conflicts with the Guild’s Quality Statement, in the spirit of continuing the discussion I agreed to post it on the Maine Cheese Guild web site for wider consideration by Guild members.
A food security resolution created at a meeting in Montville, ME on 1/20/2012 and adopted by the Town of Montville on 4/7/2012, distributed by G. W. Martin
(Our organization) resolves to support the production, processing, sale and consumption of local foods with the purpose of bolstering our farms and community traditions. (Our organization) recognizes the right of farmers/producers to be secure in their individual land ownership and (Our organization) shall encourage programs that sustain landowners in local food production.
(Our organization) undertakes this resolution in order to provide security for our citizens to local food and farms and assure a means of feeding ourselves through a system of free and open trade. (Our organization) encourages the preservation of community social events where local foods are sold/purchased. (Our organization) supports strengthening local food knowledge, traditional foodways and the education of all citizens, especially those younger than eighteen with regard to the growth, preparation and care of this food.
(Our organization) affirms our farmers’/producers’ (hereafter includes “processors”) rights as individual entities to decide issues of licensure and liability with respect to their farms and products, with the understanding that the sales transactions are made face to face with a patron and the food is for home consumption. (Our organization) upholds our farmers’/producers’ rights whether selling at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, through community associations at the originating farm or delivered to a purchaser.
(Our organization) bears no liability for endorsing our farmers/producers while staunchly confirming our citizens’ right to purchase food locally. (Our organization) expects local food to be raised/produced or prepared with respect for the dignity, health and nutrition of the citizens and any animals involved, and with respect and care for our shared natural resources.
The (members of our organization) shall pursue, sustain and advocate for new and/or existing policy and legislation supporting local food security and independence. (Our organization) will encourage education and knowledge about any such law, whether it is on a municipal, county, state, federal or any other governmental level.
(Our organization) recognizes the increasing pressure from some corporate and some government entities that may intentionally or unintentionally impede our farmers/producers in providing local food to our citizens. Therefore, the (members of our organization) attest to our right to sustain our local food trade by adopting this resolution.