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Fighting back against the state

Posted by Jonathan Chamberlain on March 30, 2011

There’s a lot of cancer-related info on this site so do browse – this supports and extends the info and critical discussion in my two cancer books – see for details.

Fighting Back Against the State

In Europe and the USA, enormous pressures are being exerted to limit access to herbs and supplements – to, many believe, the detriment of our health. So we are moving to a situation where GM crops are being allowed because they haven’t been proven to be damaging, while vitamin C is being controlled because it hasn’t proved itself to be safe (though the complete absence of any death or injury to anyone over the last 50 years as a result of excessive vitamin C intake would appear to be some kind of evidence – unfortunately not evidence that it is in the interests of big politicos and big legalwigs and big corporates to recognise.

However, in the US, the fight back has gone local. Just how local can be seen from the following discussion.

Maine Town Declares Food Sovereignty

Sedgwick, Maine has done what no other town in the United States has
done. The town unanimously passed an ordinance giving its citizens the right
“to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their
choosing.” This includes raw milk, locally slaughtered meats, and just about
anything else you can imagine. It’s also a decided bucking of state and
federal laws.

From David Gumpert’s _coverage_

This isn’t just a declaration of preference. The proposed warrant added,
**It shall be unlawful for any law or regulation adopted by the state or
federal government to interfere with the rights recognized by this
Ordinance.** In other words, no state licensing requirements prohibiting certain
farms from selling dairy products or producing their own chickens for sale to
other citizens in the town.

What about potential legal liability and state or federal inspections? It’
s all up to the seller and buyer to negotiate. **Patrons purchasing food
for home consumption may enter into private agreements with those producers
or processors of local foods to waive any liability for the consumption of
that food. Producers or processors of local foods shall be exempt from
licensure and inspection requirements for that food as long as those agreements
are in effect.** Imagine that–buyer and seller can agree to cut out the
lawyers. That’s almost un-American, isn’t it?

I applaud the residents of Sedgwick for making such a bold stand. Three
other Maine towns are also slotted to vote on a similar ordinance in the
coming weeks.

I wonder, though, about how enforceable such a law is if the state or
federal government chose to challenge it. In response to a similar question,
Edwin Shank (of _Your Family Cow_ ( ) commented
on _Gumpert’s post_
( :

I’m not one of the **lawyers here** but my observation is that when the
local law chooses to prohibit more than the rest of the state, nation or
organization they will usually get by with it. It is when local law moves to
allow more latitude that the trouble starts.

For example, I can imagine that if a county in PA would take a Humbolt CA
position on raw milk, the state would take an it’s-up-to-them position. But
if local law in an area moved to allow raw butter, cream, kefir & yogurt… I
’m sure it would not get to first base.

Still, I say Kudos to the fine folks of Sedgwick Maine. Their common sense
bravery warms the heart of every awake American. If nothing else, their
move will bring the ridiculousness of the situation to the consciousness of
another percent or so of Americans. One American at a time the tipping point
will be reached.

Deborah Evans, one of the citizens of Sedgwick _also commented_
ors-and-lawyers-and-buil.html) :

The problem with your question is that nobody really knows the answer. In
Maine, there are maybe ten or so **citizen-initiated rights-based**
ordinances like ours, passed in various towns in recent years, on a variety of
issues. For instance, Montville passed an ordinance forbidding the planting of
GMO’s several years ago. ME’s Dept of Ag wrote them a letter saying they
could not do that according to some legal point, whereupon Montville’s
counsel wrote back that they could do it because of a different point of law. As
far as we know, that was that.

Also, Maine has **home rule** for its towns in the statutes. The Maine
Municipal Association published “Municipal Home Rule: Grassroots Democracy or
A Symbolic Gesture,” (from Maine Townsman, January 1983) by Michael L.
Starn, Editor. In this article, he writes:

Municipal home rule in Maine is both constitutional and legislative. The
constitutional provision can be found in the Constitution of the State of
Maine, Art. VII, Pt.2, §1, and was adopted in public referendum in 1969. The
amendment reads:
**The inhabitants of any municipality shall have the power to alter and
amend their charters on all matters, not prohibited by Constitution or
general law, which are local and municipal in character. The legislature shall
prescribe the procedure by which the municipality may so act.**

Our Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance states:

(1) Producers or processors of local foods in the Town of Sedgwick are
exempt from licensure and inspection provided that the transaction is only
between the producer or processor and a patron when the food is sold for home
consumption. . . .

(2) Producers or processors of local foods in the Town of Sedgwick are
exempt from licensure and inspection provided that the products are prepared
for, consumed
or sold at a community social event.”

Therefore, we the radicals who concocted this mutinous act of infamy
believe that according to the Home Rule provisions of our State Constitution,
the citizens of Sedgwick have the right to enact an ordinance that is **local
and municipal in character.**

David posted a link to our ordinance template so please feel free to read
it over as I think some of your questions will be answered there. Having
founded our legal position in the Declaration of Independence and the
Constitution of the State of Maine, we feel that if a challenge is posed it can
only be resolved in a court of higher authority.

The Farmer to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, the Community Environmental
Legal Defense Fund and the Alliance for Democracy have all aided us in our
efforts to construct this ordinance over the last year. We have had the civics
lesson of our lives – and it all started with a few of us sitting around a
farmhouse kitchen table, having been gobsmacked by our Dept of Ag over a
**new interpretation** of the 1,000-bird processing exemption..

Regardless of the outcome when all the votes are counted, Sedgwick and the
other three towns have stood up and taken a stand on what matters in our
communities. We know of several other towns who are just waiting to see how
this goes before they jump in the game. Our State Legislators and Senator
are very excited about this as it gives them a mandate to begin to make the
changes at the state level. Right now there are three bills in the
Legislature’s Ag Committee that address our issues at the state level, largely
because our issues are everyone’s issues when you get right down to it. If
citizens in enough towns in enough states stand up and take a stand on their
local food system based on their inalienable right to produce and choose the
food they eat, the Fed might have to listen! What a concept.

As a country the majority of us have become politically lazy and
complacent. If we want change we must take up the tools of the democracy bequeathed
to us by the Founding Fathers, organize, and get the ball rolling.

If anybody thinks real change happens any other way, look at our history:
Long before our Constitution was amended, individuals and small groups of
outspoken people put their lives on the line to end slavery, to allow women
the right to vote, to end racial discrimination, etc. Look at the struggles
to legalize something as basic as the right to home school your own
children. Real change comes from the people. Period.

So, Kudos to the fine citizens of Sedgwick, Maine. May you inspire many
other municipalities to follow suit!

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