Four counties in Maine have joined many other states in proposing legislation intended to liberalize sales of raw milk or lighten the regulatory load on certain producers of other food products. Rich Hewitt at the Bangor Daily News wrote today:
Small, local farm operations in recent years have faced increasingly stringent state regulations that, farmers say, threaten their farms and the rights of local residents to buy local food.
Now, they are pushing back.
A group of Hancock County farmers has proposed an ordinance in four towns that would exempt small farms from new state licensing and inspection requirements as long as the farm products are sold directly to a customer for home consumption. The ordinance is mirrored in two bills introduced this session by state Rep. Walter Kumiega, D-Deer Isle.
. . . At the heart of the ordinance is the concern that small, diversified farms in the state face a growing number of requirements to build and maintain facilities that are geared to larger “industrial agriculture” operations.
The state rules, based on federal regulations, are complicated, restrictive and costly to small, local farmers, according to ordinance supporters. They make it more difficult for small farms to get started and stay in business, and thus also curb local access to locally grown goods, according to Heather Retberg of Penobscot, one of the organizers of the ordinance movement.
Should there be an additional ordinance proposed requiring these producers to disclose to their customers that these products were produced by farmers and producers who are not subject to inspection or licensing requirements? If these ordinances pass into law, full disclosure should be made.