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In keeping with a local grassroots movement to redirect control over local farm products and distribution methods, District 36 Representative Walter Kumiega (D-Deer Isle) has proposed two pieces of legislation.
Hearings will be held Tuesday, March 22, in Augusta. They are open to the public and those interested—pro or con—are welcome to attend and present testimony.
An Act Regarding the Sale of Raw Milk (L.D. 366) would exempt the sale of raw milk from licensing requirements, providing it is on the premises of the seller.
An Act to Exempt Farm Food Products and Homemade Food Offered for Sale or for Consumption from Certain Licensing Requirements (L.D. 330) seeks to provide a legal framework for a local ordinance that has recently come before a number of town meetings on the Blue Hill Peninsula.
Sedgwick and Penobscot voters passed the ordinance. Brooksville voters rejected it. The issue will come before Blue Hill voters on April 2.
The ordinance is not enforceable at this time due to state and federal laws, but Kumiega’s bill would change that by guaranteeing that communities would have self-governance regarding farming rights and practices.
A summary of Kumiega’s bill says it “facilitates direct sales between Maine farmers and consumers. It allows people preparing food in their own homes to sell directly to consumers or to offer homemade food at certain events without being licensed as food establishments.” The bill would also extend into community settings, including Farmers’ Markets.
Hearings will be held on Tuesday, March 22, at the Cross State Office Building, Room 206, at 1:30 p.m. Those wishing to testify, according to Kumiega, should prepare remarks in advance and be prepared with 20 copies for distribution to members of the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee. He said he would welcome questions or make himself available for discussion ahead of the hearing for those interested. Kumiega can be reached at email@example.com.
In terms of “next steps” in the life of the bill, after the hearing it would be scheduled for a work session within the agriculture committee where debate would take place and additional information would be sought if necessary. The committee would then vote on whether or not to move it forward for a full vote of the House of Representatives.
A complete listing of the bills discussed above, as well as the names of members of the agricultural committee (which, says Kumiega, are handy to add when drafting remarks) can be found at www.maine.gov/legis/.