Brooksville may join local-food turf war between towns, state government

February 15th, 2013 by admin Leave a reply »

BROOKSVILLE, Maine — Brooksville farmers and food processors would be exempt from state permitting requirements in selling directly to consumers if the town approves a proposed local food ordinance at a March 4 referendum.

At least, that’s what proponents say.

The ordinance would exempt “producers and processors” of local foods in town from state and federal licensure and inspection, so long as they leave the middleman out and sell their produce, baked goods, dairy and meat directly to customers.

Hancock County has been fertile soil for the local-food sovereignty movement. If approved, Brooksville would join the nearby towns of Sedgwick, Penobscot, Blue Hill and Trenton in passing the “Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance.” Hope, Plymouth, Livermore and Appleton also have passed similar rules.

But state officials say municipalities can’t simply assert local control by passing ordinances contradicting state law. They say regardless of a community’s push for food sovereignty rules, they’ll continue to enforce state laws on food safety and inspections.

The main goal of the ordinance is to assert local control over farm products. A similar proposal was rejected in Brooksville in 2011, but supporters are confident they’ll prevail this year.

“Brooksville is quite cautious about adopting new ordinances because normally new ordinances restrict rights,” said Deborah Evans, owner of Bagaduce Farm in Brooksville and one of the proposal’s main proponents. “This ordinance is unique in that it rolls back rules and regulations.”

The first time around, a recommendation against the proposal from the town’s Ordinance

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