Early November 2021 Maine voters passed through referendum the nation’s first ‘Right to Food’ amendment to the Maine Constitution: Article 1, Declaration of Rights.
Section 25. Right to food. 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.
Referendum Text: Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Establish a Right to Food
In the amendment’s proposal, the citizens of Maine were asked: “Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to declare that all individuals have a natural, inherent and unalienable right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and well-being?”
Here’s how they voted:
Yes: 245,595 votes
No: 158,129 votes
Source: News Center Maine
Interactive map: How every town voted in Maine’s right to food referendum from the Bangor Daily News
Read the Maine Constitution in its entirety here
Opposition to your Right to Food
The “No on 3” website spearheading the fight against this amendment can be found here. (update: they’ve since removed the site, here’s a link to an incomplete archive of the No on 3 website)
Opponents to your Right to Food include:
Maine Animal Coalition – vegan org, animal death counter on the bottom of their website.
Animal Rights Maine – who claims the bill will lead to people slaughtering their dogs and cats and eating them. Curious logo…
Blood on your paws, eh?
Maine Farm Bureau – organization that claims to be grassroots, yet has bureau in their name. Read their Facebook post arguing “no” on 3.
NAIS stands for the National Animal Identification System, not exactly a grassroots initiative. Looks like one of the many “farmer advocacy groups” that are often run by or beholden to a mysterious interest group or a cartel of locally large farmers who benefit from over-regulation.
Update: The Weston A Price Foundation also noticed a connection to Beyond Beef, written in their article Real vs Synthetic Food in Maine. It’s not a direct tie, but the tankies and megacorp aren’t exactly strangers so the implied tie is already there.
Note: in between my beginning and finishing of this article, the opposition campaign website was taken down. There were more opposers, but these three sum it up well.
Arguments from those who oppose your Right to Food
Arguments against this amendment come in a few forms.
Amendment doesn’t include funding for welfare programs
Opposition to this bill put one point front and center: that it doesn’t care specifically for the needy. “This won’t stop hunger” isn’t really an argument though, it’s a distraction.
Right now we are doing something for people who can produce food, not people who need others to produce food for them. It’s good to help out the producers too, sometimes. You can advocate for other policies to help the needy another time in some other initiative.
When more food is held by more independent hands, more food will be donated to those in need. Let’s boost those numbers.
Amendment doesn’t ensure animal welfare
The problem with this argument is that the same people stating it also believe that eating meat on any occasion is animal abuse. So, basically, they don’t want you to have any livestock or meat in the first place.
You having a right to raise your own food animals is offensive to them. Realize this and their intentions behind casting the “no” vote become crystal clear.
They can’t honestly think the world’s worst backyard chicken keeper will ever un-dwarfed by the amount of abuse that is possible in large corporate farming operations.
Freeing up cottage farming by ensuring the people’s right to produce food will do more to improve overall animal treatment than any vegan organization.
Amendment will lead to people eating their pets
If people are down on their luck bad enough to eat their own cats and dogs, when delicious beef and raw milk is widely available, laws probably aren’t much of a thing at that stage of the game.
There’s no reason to anticipate anyone using this bill to spark their dream of creating a ranch for beagles to be fattened up and eaten.
Amendment will increase foodborne illness
If it’s possible for a cottage farmer to grow food in a way that is clean and safe, which it is, they shouldn’t be stopped from doing so. We don’t need edge cases defining the law to restrict people from growing good food.
Large farming operations cause foodborne illness too. The bigger the farm, the more widespread the illness when things go wrong.
Amendment is broad, edge cases will be ruled through judicial interpretation
This is a valid one. The amendment is broad and we don’t know all the outcomes. However, the spirit of the law is good. If we err, it will be in the right direction. I’d rather put my bet on people producing their own food than regulations that serve to consolidate our food supply into the hands of out of touch corporations.
We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
Maine’s Right to Food Amendment is now law
This amendment was added to the Maine Constitution in late 2021.
Congratulations on making a positive gain for food freedom, Maine!