New England Farmers Revolt, Again

Maine farmers protest regulations on locally distributed goods
flikr/Anna McDermott

Maine Farm

Small town farmers in Maine are up in arms about new government regulations.

According to NPR, towns like the island of Isle au Haut have been passing localized legislations known as food sovereignty ordinances. These ordinances declare local food producers’ independence from federal licensing and inspection of goods being sold directly to consumers. In a state with a high population of small, local farms, it’s no wonder support for these ordinances is spreading.

These declarations of sovereignty began after the state government resolved to allow small farmers to slaughter chickens on their property, rather than transport them to a slaughterhouse facility. This was intended to encourage farmers to raise more poultry, but rules laid out by the government meant that the process would cost farmers upwards of $30,000. 

This sent local farmers into revolt. Blue Hill, Maine was one of the first towns to protest, initiating a back and forth between local producers and state regulators. State lawmakers have now passed several bills in favor of these revolutionaries’ demands. Ten towns in the state have now passed similar declarations in the wake of these successes.

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While many local farmers support these sovereignty ordinances, some claim that it is still in the interest of consumer safety to follow the government mandates. In a state like Maine where food regulations are already loose, some have fears that consumers may pay the price for farmers’ freedom.