Blue Hill, ME (PRWEB) November 16, 2011
The Family Farm Defense Committee of Hancock County reports that on November 9, Dan Brown, a family farmer in Blue Hill, Maine, was served a summons to answer three charges filed against him by the State of Maine (Hancock County Superior Court, Docket #ELLSC-CV-2011-00070) and Maine Agricultural Commissioner Walter Whitcomb. The charges relate to selling food without licenses, specifically milk, assorted dairy products like ice cream and cheese, and processed items like pickles and jams. He is also charged with failure to label his milk “Not Pasteurized.” The safety or quality of Farmer Dan Brown’s food is not in question. It is the right of the citizens of Blue Hill to operate under the town's Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance that is being challenged.
Since March of this year, five towns in Maine passed the Local Food & Community Self-Governance Ordinance, creating legal protections for direct food and farm sales and food shared at bake sales and community meals. Commissioner Walter Whitcomb said that State law preempts the authority of municipalities to make local laws that conflict with state and federal laws and regulations. In a letter dated April 6, 2011, that was sent to Maine towns where the Ordinance was passed, Commissioner Whitcomb stated “Department personnel are instructed to work with unlicensed food processors or manufacturers to gain their voluntary compliance with the law.” The letter goes on to say, “However, persons who fail to comply will be subject to enforcement, including the removal from sale of products from unlicensed sources and/or the imposition of fines.” In this case Dan Brown is subject to lawsuit and injunction.
People are rallying behind Dan Brown and the Town of Blue Hill under the “We Are All Farmer Brown” effort. The Family Farm Defense Committee of Hancock County believes if Dan loses, a chilling affect will ripple through Maine towns that already have or are considering passing the Local Food & Community Self-Governance Ordinance. They contend the loss would impede the successful growth of small farms, our cottage food businesses, and put at risk the tradition of sharing meals at our churches, granges, potlucks, and bake sales. But most importantly, states the committee, it would say to all the people around Maine, the U.S., and globe that, “No, you do not have the right to the food of your choice.” and “No, you do not have democracy in the food system.”
As Big Agribusiness corporations continue to recall contaminated food in the millions of pounds, causing sickness and death without consequences, as The Family Farm Defense Committee of Hancock County believes, citizens in a growing number of towns around the country are taking matters into their own hands by creating rules that reflect the needs of farmers, food producers, and communities who are building healthy, resilient local food systems.
The Family Farm Defense Committee of Hancock County asks readers to take a moment today to contact the Maine Agricultural Commissioner and Governor Paul LePage and tell them to drop the lawsuit against Dan Brown and respect the authority of the Town of Blue Hill that was granted by the townspeople under the Local Food & Community Self-Governance Ordinance.
There will be a press conference and rally in Blue Hill, Maine Friday, November 18 at the Town Hall beginning at noon to show support in person.
Walter Whitcomb, Agricultural Commissioner, State of Maine
Governor Paul LePage
Thursday, November 17 10am-11am EST
Dan Brown will make a statement and cover the counts listed in the summons. Bob St.Peter, family farmer from Sedgwick, Maine and director of Food for Maine’s Future will discuss the campaign calling on the State to withdraw the lawsuit.