MAINE LEGISLATORS ARE LEADING THE CHARGE ON THE RIGHT TO FOOD
On November 2nd, 2021 the residents of Maine will be given the opportunity to vote on a state constitutional amendment giving them the “right to food.” The amendment was introduced as HP 61 to the Maine House of Representatives on January 13th, 2021 by Representative William ‘Billy Bob’ Faulkingham. Rep. Faulkingham has openly supported agriculture, fishing and hunting in much of his proposed legislation over the years.
As an amendment to the state constitution, a vote of two-thirds of the House was required and it passed with no issues. The resolution also had no problem passing the state Senate. Now it is up to the voters to decide if they agree with the amendment and it will be on the ballot as Maine Question 3 next month.
Why is a Right to Food Amendment Needed?
Most of us agree that as American’s we should have the right to produce and eat the food we want. It is unfortunate that there are now states that are challenging that idea and norm. One only has to look at Prop 12 in California and Question 3 in Massachusetts, as well as ballot initiatives in Colorado and Oregon to confirm there are animal extremist groups working to control what we eat and where it comes from. We have covered this issue extensively in previous articles.
The proposed amendment for the Right to Food states:
- “All individuals have a natural, inherent and unalienable right to save and exchange seeds and the right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and well-being, as long as an individual does not commit trespassing, theft, poaching or other abuses of private property rights, public lands or natural resources in the harvesting, production or acquisition of food.”
While this seems completely normal to most people, and may even seem to be redundant to some, many of the rights listed above are being trampled across our country. Legislators in Maine felt they needed to be proactive on the issue of protecting their residents right to produce, harvest, and eat the food they choose. A choice that is now being stripped from many residents in America, especially low-income families.
Who is in Favor of the Right to Food?
On October 19th, 2021 the Sportsmen’s Alliance of Maine, the largest hunting and fishing organization in the state, agreed that Question 3’s Right to Food amendment aligns with their views as an organization and they are supporting the measure. They plan to release a detailed statement on why they support the amendment along with answers to the most common questions their members have regarding the measure.
Representative Jen Poirier of Skowhegan, District 107, in Maine stated the following in the Bangor Daily News on October 8th, 2021:
- “Every person in Maine should have the right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the foods they choose. Without Question 3 amending the Maine Constitution, those rights are in jeopardy.”
- “Without the passage of this referendum, Maine could face dire legislation similar to Initiative Petition 13 which is currently on the ballot in Oregon. That would ban common farming practices, including breeding and harvesting animals for meat. It would further limit hunting, fishing and trapping, making such activities a criminal offence.”
- “State laws and local ordinances should not limit the ability of a person to grow the nourishment of their own choice.”
Who is Fighting Against the Right to Food Amendment in Maine?
There are a handful of groups fighting against this constitutional amendment and it is no surprise that some of these are animal rights extremists. Animal Wellness Action, the group founded by Wayne Pacelle, disgraced ex CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, made sure to weigh in on the issue in a press release. Gina Garey, the Animal Wellness Action state director for Maine stated, “The handful of people who cooked up Question 3 have not given Mainers a single good reason for this amendment to our Constitution.” Maybe to her the ability to have affordable and nutritious food is not a “good reason” to ensure a person’s right to feed themselves.
Those in opposition to the amendment seem bent on the idea that it would affect current animal welfare standards in the state. Senator Craig Hickman, a supporter of the referendum, stated in the Portland Press Herald that, “It has no bearing on animal welfare because the animal welfare laws remain intact.” Senator Hickman is an organic farmer in Maine and has openly spoken about food security in our country. Representative Faulkingham also stated, “the animal rights groups should be supporters of the right to food because it’s going to support small farmers and individuals who really take care of their animals and value their animals.”
A few other organizations opposed to this amendment are: Animal Rights Maine, Maine Friends of Animals, Maine Veterinary Medical Association, Maine Potato Board, and Maine Farm Bureau. Julie Ann Smith, executive director of Maine Farm Bureau, said in an interview with News Center Maine, “We’re very concerned with the vagueness of the language. We’re not sure what it does.”
What Does This Mean for Maine?
If passed, Maine would be the first state to grant the “right to food” in their constitution. While some groups which are pro-agriculture may be against this amendment because they are worried of the vague language, animal extremists are worried that this would allow the residents of Maine to continue eating animal products long term.
A look at the issues happening in Colorado, California, Oregon, and Massachusetts should be eye opening and bring an understanding to why this amendment has been brought to the table.
Here are some links for more information: