“Question 3 is a tribute to small-scale food producers and all eaters, an expression of the fundamental rights to enjoy life, liberty, safety, and happiness.” – Heather Retberg, Quill’s End Farm
“Why is an individual Right to Food needed in Maine? Power over our food supply is concentrated in a few individuals and corporations. Global companies dominate our food system and policy at the expense of our food self-sufficiency. This concentration of power threatens Mainers’ individual rights to grow, raise, harvest, produce, and consume the food of our choosing now and in the future.”
“State constitutional amendments exist to protect the people and our individual rights. While our individual rights to free speech, to bear arms, and to be protected from unlawful searches and seizures are constitutionally protected in this country’s Bill of Rights, our fundamental right to grow and raise food for our own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health, and well-being is not. The proposed amendment would shift the power to us and protect our individual right to food for present and future generations.”
“The language in the amendment is clear: the amendment conditions the right to food, including the right to save and exchange seeds, on legality. An individual cannot trespass, steal, or poach. The amendment’s limiting language protects seed certification and ensures that individuals cannot sell seeds commercially. The amendment prohibits violating private property rights and abusing public lands or natural resources. This is particularly important for the right to food, as it ensures that individuals cannot use their right to food to the detriment of their neighbors or in a way that damages state property. With this limiting language, the proposed amendment carefully constructs a human rights framework that secures the individual rights of the people while cautiously guarding against abuse.”
Public Comment of Senator Craig V. Hickman in Support of Question 3: Constitutional Amendment to Declare a Right to Food November 2, 2021
All power is inherent in the People.
Do the People have a fundamental right to save and exchange seeds to grow, raise and harvest the food of our own choosing?
Do the People have a fundamental right to obtain and consume the foods we wish for our own nourishment and sustenance?
Do the People have a fundamental right to our own bodily health and well-being?
Do the People have a fundamental right to be free from hunger and starvation?
When one in four children among us goes to bed hungry every night, we must do better. Maine has all the natural resources and the hard-working, independent-spirited people to produce, harvest and distribute enough food to feed our people, strengthen local economies, and create resilient communities.
State and federal agencies and courts have yet to recognize the right to food as a fundamental liberty right. But way back in 1888, in the case of Powell vs. Pennsylvania, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Field argued thusly:
I have always supposed that the gift of life was accompanied with the right to seek and produce food, by which life can be preserved and enjoyed, in all ways not encroaching upon the equal rights of others… [The] right to procure healthy and nutritious food and to manufacture it, is among those inalienable rights, which no state can give, and no state can take away…. It is involved in the right to pursue one’s happiness.
Wouldn’t you agree? Then let us articulate a Right to Food explicitly in the Constitution of Maine.
Food is life. There’s nothing more intimate than eating. Do we have a right to obtain the foods we wish, or don’t we? It’s really that simple. Let’s put it in black and white. Let’s put it in writing.
Let the People vote YES
Public Comment to the Office of the Secretary of State on Question 3 Regarding the Right to Food Constitutional Amendment – ME Representative Billy Bob Faulkingham, Winter Harbor, ME
“America was founded on human rights: the right to speak out, to organize, to worship, to be armed, to be free from unwarranted search and seizures among others. But what we still haven’t secured is the right to food. Rights are protections for the people not provisions from the government. The Right to Food is about the individual right to be free from hunger but it is NOT about securing free food from the government. Instead, it is about protecting the right of people to feed themselves in dignity, meaning that sufficient ability to produce food is available. It means that people have the means to grow or produce food without government interference, or prohibitions to meet their dietary needs for optimal health. Food is our life source and therefore is fundamental to our freedom and our pursuit of happiness.”
“The right to food will not limit or constrain other rights, including property rights. It does NOT allow a person to commit trespassing, theft, poaching or other abuses of private property rights or public lands in the harvesting, production or acquisition of food. Seed patents are secured. People are hungry in every county and township across Maine. Above the national average, food insecurity in Maine hovers at around 14%. Maine has the highest food insecurity rate in New England. People are hungry in Maine because they do not have sufficient income or stable employment. And with more than 90% of what Mainers eat coming from out of the state, our food systems are vulnerable to weaknesses in the national economy and infrastructure. The Right to Food will protect our ability to build resilient communities and strong local economies. With our abundance of natural resources and hard-working people, self-determined food systems are within our reach. By securing the right to food in our constitution, the capacity to grow and raise food will be protected in the most fundamental form of law.”
“The legal recognition of our fundamental right to food is an important step in addressing hunger and malnutrition for all in Maine. Having the right to food means having a right to adequate food—in terms of quantity and quality—that is safe and good for our bodily health and well-being. Having the right to food means having the right to access food—physically and economically—without having to make tough decisions between food and another basic right. Having the right to food means having the right to grow, raise, harvest, and save and exchange seeds if you’re a small-scale food producer. Having the right to food means that our individual right to food will be protected for present and future generations.”
– Denisse Cordova Montes, University of Miami School of Law
Press Statement – National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC) board president Jim Goodman, a retired Wisconsin dairy farmer, said, “It’s a simple and straightforward choice. The people of Maine can affirm that they have the unalienable right to the food of their choosing, produced in a manner that builds resilient local food systems and economically vibrant communities. Alternatively, if ballot question 3 fails, Mainers surrender their right of self-determination to a corporate food system concerned only with profits and not with the well-being of the people of Maine.”
Food for Maine’s Future President Betsy Garrold, a Knox homesteader, said, “Relocalizing our food system and building our communities is the greatest insurance policy we can have against disruptions of every kind, whether economic, political, environmental — or a global pandemic. Resilience is built into the DNA of the people of Maine. This amendment will allow us to manifest that resilience by taking back local control of our food system.”
Paid for by Right to Food for Maine, 192 Annabessacook Road, Winthrop, ME 04364