Compromise offered on Rockland food law

By Stephen Betts | Feb 06, 2017

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.

"With the legal brief in hand, I now feel confident that the Rockland City Council does not possess the authority to exempt citizens from state regulations or inspections in this case," Ackor said Feb. 2. He said passage of the ordinance might require the city to defend itself or a citizen should a conflict arise between a citizen and the state or federal government.
"My hope is that the resolve serves as a compromise that will put the matter to rest and eliminate any risk to the city and the public's tax dollar," Ackor said.

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.

Comments (9)
Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Feb 12, 2017 20:27

RE "The food sovereignty issue was not brought up by the council.  They were asked by several local groups to act on.  Rockland wants to send a positive message"

 

1] This misguided ordinance was not a residents' proposal. It was formally introduced and it is being pushed by a councilor that wants to please [her words] "My constituents."


2] And now Rockland wants to send a positive message . . . " My left foot! Council wants to send a positive msg to The People? How about lowering taxes, so The People would have more disposable income and would be able to buy real food instead of junk!

3] I would recommend to council to make available to The People the Legal Brief that was requested from the City Attorney. Hint; Reality Check.

 

4] Would also recommend to the "supporters" of this charade to dig a little deeper and figure out who is really pushing this agenda . . .



Posted by: Maggie Trout | Feb 12, 2017 11:32

Save for the city-appointed State representative proposal in it, the newly revised draft of the food sovereignty ordinance fits the issues, without drumming up problems where they do not exist, as did the original ordinance. There is no "fight" to be fought here.  Local ordinances do not preclude farming, nor processing and selling foods to neighbors.  Even if the license route was chosen, it costs $15, and comes with a state inspection.  So, this particular drama doesn't need to be played out. 



Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Feb 12, 2017 10:29

My friend in the newspaper business once told me "never let facts interfere with a good story".  The food sovereignty issue was not brought up by the council.  They were asked by several local groups to act on.  Rockland wants to send a positive message to all the local farmers and food producers in the area (many young people moving to the area and buying farms) that our town supports your efforts. Movements within the state and Federal governments are forcing unnecessary regulations on small farmers creating financial hardships and at the same time rewarding large corporate farms. What the council is doing (simplified version) is saying to our local farmers we suport your efforts and are willing to fight by your side.  That's it.



Posted by: Maggie Trout | Feb 06, 2017 18:17

McKeever - No one is stopping anyone from growing anything in Rockland.  Where did you get that idea?

Files - Just what kind of dystopian disaster are you imagining that would cause you to state, "Rockland is going to have to place priority on becoming more self-sufficient, particularly in regards to our food supply."  Good grief.  You must honestly believe that Rockland is going to turn into an agrarian community - and one that never existed in the past?  Farms were being sold off from the get-go.  But everyone is not going to produce all their own food.  No one produces all their own food - not every bit of it. Good grief.

As to appointing a volunteer representative to advocate for food sovereignty in the state Legislature, that's what State Legislators, and lobbyists, are for.  Rockland absolutely must not circumvent this.  Davis is actually proposing a kind of pseudo-sort of legal representative that is not a state legislator?  No.  You just can't do this.



Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Feb 06, 2017 17:47

Victory gardens were prevalent during WWII, and beyond, in Rockland, and elsewhere around the country. Farmers markets and roadside food stands are equally prevalent in our contemporary lives. The council, in chasing after food sovereignty ordinances that will not withstand legal challenges, is looking for a solution to a problem that does not exist. We urge council to address the urgent city problems - not some chimera.



Posted by: Amy Files | Feb 06, 2017 15:11

Hi Kendall -- While the City absolutely has its hands full regarding current City needs -- it's just as imperative that we focus on future needs. In order to respond to changing times, Rockland is going to have to place priority on becoming more self-sufficient, particularly in regards to our food supply. This resolve is a first-step to committing to food security in our City and to catalyzing a sincere effort to increasing our local food production.



Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Feb 06, 2017 14:52

During WW2 there were victory gardens grown in the City of Boston on any plot of land available and I think it was also true for the Maine city areas.  Rationing made for innovative gardening. Any old timers like me out there to refresh my memory?

I think it petty of the Councilors in Rockland to stop any citizen from self growing of food.



Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Feb 06, 2017 14:05

Hi there KM

 

Correct, while Rockland's infrastructure is still in shambles, city council wastes time in "feel good" ordinances . . .

 

RE "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."

 

Say what!!!

1] I would urge the supporters of this misguided ordinance to study the meaning of the word "sovereignty"

 

2] Consistency anyone??? If Rockland does not pass the "sovereignty" ordinance, what are the grounds for Rockland supporting this in Augusta???



Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Feb 06, 2017 12:28

City council needs to address the unfinished business of repairing the out-dated water/sewer systems and not continue to go astray with misguided ordinances about state and federally legally unsupported food sovereignty.



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