Compromise offered on Rockland food law
Rockland — Rockland may not become the first Maine city to adopt a food sovereignty law, but a compromise being put forth would put the city on record as supporting local, sustainable farming.
The council gave preliminary approval Jan. 9 to a food sovereignty ordinance on a 3-2 vote. One of the three votes in support came from Councilor Adam Ackor, who has since offered a compromise resolve that would support many of the goals of supporters of the ordinance without it's being in the form of a law that he said would not withstand a legal challenge.
Ackor supported the measure in January to allow the ordinance to move ahead to a final vote, set for Feb. 13, and for time for the city to get a legal opinion.
Nate Davis, a member of the citizens' group Renew Rockland that supported the ordinance, said Renew Rockland supports both the ordinance and the resolve.
"The ordinance is unlikely to pass, and we think that the resolve is a reasonable compromise that supports many of the goals of the food sovereignty movement, including sustainability, resilience and decentralized means of food production," Davis said in an email Monday, Feb. 6.
Davis said Renew Rockland would like to see two changes to Ackor's resolve -- one that would commit the City Council to appointing a volunteer representative to advocate for food sovereignty in the state Legislature on behalf of Rockland. He said the group would also like to see language added to "more actively promote local food production and encouraging more local farming and backyard growing."
The current proposed ordinance states "Our right to a local food system requires us to assert our inherent right to self-government." The law further states that "Federal and state regulations impede local food production and constitute a usurpation of our citizens' right to foods of their choice."
The non-binding resolve put forth by Ackor states "Rockland citizens possess the right to save and exchange seeds; grow produce, process, sell, purchase and consume local foods, thus promoting self-reliance, the preservation of our local food economy, family farms and food traditions."
The ordinance will face its final vote Feb. 13 but sponsor Councilor Valli Geiger said Monday night, Feb. 6 that she would move to indefinitely postpone the ordinance when it comes up for the final vote next week.
the resolve will be voted on at the same meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall. Resolves only have to be voted on once.