Maine Voices: Right to Food Amendment Would Have Unintended Consequences

Looking at the many respected and disparate organizations in Maine that oppose Question 3, it’s clear that the proposed constitutional amendment creates more problems than it solves. While the inclusion of a ‘right to food’ in the state constitution sounds appealing, the impact of the amendment on food safety and animal welfare is not at all appetizing. .

The heart of the problem lies in the vague wording of the proposed amendment and its overly broad language. Proponents argue that Question 3 would not impact commercial food safety or animal welfare laws, but this is not correct. Constitutional rights are interpreted by the courts, so the true impact of question 3 will not be known until the prosecution has entered the legal system. The lawsuits necessary to determine the effect of the amendment will weigh directly on Maine taxpayers and take years to resolve. By then, the damage to public health and animals in Maine will already be done.

By amending the constitution of Maine, supporters of Question 3 would place the right to “cultivate, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of [one’s] own choice ”above state law and local ordinances, including food safety regulations. It would take away the safeguards we have in place to help us produce healthy, affordable food for families in Maine. Could the amendment lead to pigs being raised in tiny urban yards and slaughtered on the front steps without regard to food safety standards? It could very well. After years of legal wrangling, the courts could rule against such an interpretation, but this result is uncertain and would be too late for neighbors affected by the urban pig farm, people sickened by unsanitary meat, and animals forced to live in it. an inappropriate environment.

Maine prides itself on its small, local farm-to-table business, with “buy local” an anything but formal mantra. But this move could jeopardize its reputation as some of the best food and restaurants in the country.

Maine has strict animal welfare laws, and for these laws to do the job of protecting animals, they must be enforced. A constitutional amendment consecrated above state law could easily deter already overworked and underfunded municipal animal control officers from enforcing existing welfare laws. After all, anyone could say that they raised their animals in a particular way to “produce and consume the food of their choice.” The vague language of the proposed amendment opens the door to the torture of animals through extreme confinement or force-feeding and could lead to the slaughter of pets like cats and dogs for their sake. meat. Even the horses could be on the table.

The wide range of questions raised by the proposed amendment makes us wonder whether this is an idea ahead of its time. This would be a “first in the nation” provision with many consequences as yet unknown. While the intention behind question 3 seems positive, the real danger it poses to our health and our animals is not. A constitutional amendment won’t help Maine families facing food insecurity, but it will tie up taxpayer dollars in unnecessary lawsuits for years to come. Food sovereignty is a good idea that deserves to be fully discussed and digested before passing a vague statement of rights that will not satisfy anyone. Let’s pass laws that promote Mainers’ rights without endangering our health or the welfare of our animals.

The Maine Farm Bureau and the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals invite you to join them in voting “no” on Question 3 on November 2nd.

– Special to the Press Herald

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