Through the Eyes of a Food Freedom Fighter in Maine

This year, Maine is considering several “food freedom” bills (including a bill just passed by the House of Representatives that would loosen restrictions on raw milk sales), earning national attention from those who believe it is a human right to acquire fresh wholesome foods without interference from government regulators.

Maine Representative Craig Hickman is proposing an amendment to the Maine constitution that would legitimize and protect private food sales between producers and consumers. “Right to Food” reads: Every Individual has a natural and unalienable right to food and to acquire food for that individual’s own nourishment and sustenance by hunting, gathering, foraging, farming, fishing, or gardening or by barter, trade or purchase from sources of that individual’s own choosing, and every individual is fully responsible for the exercise of this right, which may not be infringed.

Joel Salatin, who recently testified before a Maine legislative committee in support of this amendment, shared a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at this hearing and the tension between the two opposing sides. He describes how 30 people showed up to testify in support of the amendment, while 2 testified against it. Predictably, the two that testified against were from the Maine Farm Bureau Federation and the Maine Department of Agriculture, and their remarks illustrated how “the orthodoxy of the industrial food system has no clue what our food freedom tribe thinks and can’t imagine why we can’t be satisfied with pasteurized milk, Hot Pockets, or microwaveable frozen dinners. They see this as choice; we see it as poison.”

Read more via his Facebook post here, Joel Salatin on Maine “Food Orthodoxy vs. Heresy”.

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90% of New Zealanders Surveyed Say Raw Milk Should Be Personal Choice; Government Listens

Last year, the New Zealand government surveyed over 2,000 raw milk consumers – finding that nearly 90% of respondents believe raw milk sales should be a matter of personal choice. Undoubtedly taking these survey results into account, the New Zealand government has decided to legalize raw milk sales from farms directly to consumers, beginning in March 2016.

Farm to consumer sales will include home deliveries and there will be no restrictions on quantities, though raw milk producers will have to register with the government, will need to meet certain hygiene requirements, will be subject to inspections and testing for pathogens, and will need to label raw milk appropriately so consumers can make informed decisions about consumption and the risks involved.

“I recognise that people feel strongly about their right to buy and drink raw milk. Equally, I am also aware of the strong concerns about the public health risks associated with drinking raw milk and the potential risk to New Zealand’s food safety reputation. We have worked hard to find the right balance between managing the risks to public health while recognising the demand from rural and urban consumers to access raw milk,” said Jo Goodhew, New Zealand’s Minister of Food Safety.

Read more via The Complete Patient blog,  Seeking “Right Balance,” New Zealand Legalizes Farm-to-Consumer Raw Milk Sales, Deliveries.

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Maine House of Representatives Passes Raw Milk Bill

The Maine House of Representatives has passed a bill that would loosen raw milk restrictions in the state of Maine, allowing farmers to sell raw milk directly to consumers on the farm without a license. Farmers would be required to take a sanitation course and would be prohibited from advertising.

The bill, which was proposed by Rep. William Noon, passed by a vote of 80-67 and will now go on to the Senate for consideration.

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Does the Minnesota State Constitution Allow for Raw Milk Sales?

A district court judge in Cook County, Minnesota has ruled that local farmer David Berglund is not in contempt of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) following his argument that the Minnesota State Constitution gives citizens the rights to “peddle” products of their farm without a license.

The battle between Berglund and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) started in 2013, when he refused to allow state inspectors onto his farm.

Berglund argues that Section 7 of the Minnesota State Constitution, which has been in place for over 100 years, reads: “No license required to peddle. Any person may sell or peddle the products of the farm or garden occupied and cultivated by him without obtaining a license therefor.”

Berglund’s case will continue but because of this ruling, “contempt of court” and the $500 per day fines that come with it are off the table. Read more via Food Safety News.

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South Dakota Raw Milk Legislation Goes Into Effect

In March 2015, South Dakota passed a bill to legalize the sale of raw milk for human consumption. This new legislation officially went into effect on July 1, 2015, much to the satisfaction of food freedom fighters across the state.

The new law, Senate Bill 45, creates a new category of “raw milk for human consumption” which makes unpasteurized dairy products like milk and cream legal products regulated by the state, just like Grade A milk. These regulations will differ from those that are required of Grade A dairies and manufacturing plants because, as raw milk supporters have pointed out, raw milk produced for direct consumption and raw milk produced for pasteurization are two different products. The new law acknowledges this difference.

A unique aspect of the South Dakota raw milk legislation is that, while the state will monitor raw milk producers’ coliform levels, there are no set standards and producers won’t be fined for coliform counts. There are those who believe that coliform testing is not a good indicator of milk safety.

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