Jeff Beyea Raises Concerns Regarding Commissioner Walt Whitcomb

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Dan Brown Speaks! (Blue Hill Rally 11/18/11)

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WABI TV Coverage of the 11/18/11 Rally at Blue Hill Town Hall

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Similar Fights Across the Country

The following are articles and media about similar struggles across the country:

Rawesome Raid: Federal Agents Arrest Owner, Dump Food

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Farmer Maggie Writes to Maine’s Governor LePage and Commissioner Whitcomb

Quoting Maggie Robertson <maggiethefarmer@windstream.net>:

Dear Governor LePage and Mr. Whitcomb,

It is with great concern that I am reading about the lawsuit filed  by  the State of Maine against farmer Dan Brown of Blue Hill, Maine.

Farmers and consumers across the country are looking to the towns  of  Maine for hope and inspiration in a food system that is  designed to  favor large corporate agribusiness, centralized  processing and  distribution networks that provide lower quality  food and greater  risk of interruption and contamination,  accidental or intentional.   This embedded system of corporate  agriculture stacks the deck against  small family farmers who are  at risk of losing everything with one  difficult season.  The  Local Food and Community Self-Governance  ordinances passed by 5  towns in Maine have had a profound ripple  effect and spread hope  to many small farmers and concerned  communities across the country.

Even the Maine State Legislature recognized these ordinances as  good  for the people of Maine, when they passed the Joint  Resolution on  State Food Sovereignty.  Communities across the  country are excited  about what these towns have done, and the  confidence and support they  show for both their farmers and for  their residents.  Maine needs to  stand up and support the will of  the people in these communities who  have decided that they are  capable in making their own choices in  purchasing food.

Your own official state website states that:
http://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/index.php?topic=Gov_Cabinet&id=21322&v=article2011

“The Maine Department of Agriculture’s goals include expanding  Maine  agriculture by making the state a leader in innovative  approaches to  profitability, creating opportunities for Maine  citizens to succeed  in agriculture, ensure a safe, wholesome and  high quality food  supply, educate the public about the importance  of Maine agriculture,  promote the stewardship of Maine’s natural  resources, protect the  integrity of commercial and consumer  transactions, and foster a work  environment that encourages  teamwork, trust, creativity and  professional development.”

In looking at this statement piece by piece, we can see that the   Local Food and Community Self-Governance ordinances fulfill these   goals in an extraordinary way.

“Innovative approaches to profitability, creating opportunities  for  Maine citizens to succeed in agriculture”   By passing these   ordinances, these communities have taken an innovative approach  to  their local food system by giving their local farmers an  opportunity  to build their businesses without the cost- prohibitive special  facilities often needed to meet state  regulations.

“Safe, wholesome and high quality food supply”  When it comes to   safety and quality, the last thing a small farmer wants is to  make  her or his neighbors ill, and is more likely to be extra  vigilant in  how they produce their products.  A small farmer  cannot weather the  tarnished reputation that comes from a bad  product and has everything  to lose, not just profit, but also  their home, career and way of life.

“Educate the public about the importance of Maine agriculture”    What  better way to educate the public about Maine’s agriculture  than  direct transactions between those who produce the food and  those who  purchase it?  The general public does not learn about  agriculture by  buying mass-produced poor-quality food in a  grocery store, they learn  about agriculture, it’s glory and it’s  challenges, celebrations and  heartaches, through interacting  directly with farmers.

“Stewardship of Maine’s natural resources”  Farmers depend upon  their  land for their survival, and farmers who sell direct to  their  customers are more likely to hold their land close to their  hearts  and recognize how vital healthy soil is to healthy food.   They are  thoughtful and genuine when it comes to taking care of  their land.

“Protect the integrity of commercial and consumer transactions,  and  foster a work environment that encourages teamwork, trust,  creativity  and professional development.”  The Local Food and  Self-Governance  ordinances show producers that their communities  are supporting them  and trust them to make sound transactions of  quality goods.  Trust  coupled with self-reliance builds  communities that are resilient and  self-supporting.

Conversely, suing your own farmers certainly does not encourage   teamwork or trust, it stifles creativity and professional   development. It does nothing to protect integrity of transactions.

A state that turns against it’s own people, people who are  working  hard in providing for themselves and their neighbors,  cannot be  commended or admired.  It is time to withdraw the  lawsuit against Dan  Brown.  The towns that passed the Food  Security and Community Self- Governance ordinances have been very  clear in their actions to  protect and provide for food security  and should be commended to  taking steps to take care of their own.

You have an opportunity to be a shining example of promoting the   ability of ordinary people to stand on their own two feet, to  build  and govern their communities as they see fit, to be strong  and stand  with their neighbors, to be an example of the best our  country has to  offer.  Or you can be yet another example of  government turning on  it’s own people in the interests of the  corporate greed that  influences our government agriculture policy.

Please do the right thing.  Drop the lawsuit against Dan Brown,  and  instead proudly support him and all the family farmers of  Maine; they  are the backbone of Maine agriculture and the  foundation to strong  communities.

Sincerely,

Margaret K. Robertson
farmer
M&M Robertson Farms, LLC
614 Canoe Ripple Road
Sligo, PA  16255
(814) 358-2882
maggiethefarmer@windstream.net
http://www.gardensfromearth.com

Posted in Food Sovereignty, Local Food Ordinance, Similar Fights, We Are All Farmer Brown | 3 Comments

Blue Hill Maine Farmer Being Sued By State of Maine & Agricultural Commissioner — Local Food & Community Self-Governance Ordinance Challenged

**CALL TO ACTION**

Blue Hill Maine Farmer Being Sued By State of Maine & Agricultural Commissioner
Local Food & Community Self-Governance Ordinance Challenged

We Are All Farmer Brown!

TAKE ACTION BELOW!

www.facebook.com/WeAreFarmerBrown
www.localfoodlocalrules.org

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Since March of this year five towns in Maine have passed the Local Food & Community Self-Governance Ordinance, creating legal protections for direct food and farm sales and food shared at bake sales and community meals. From the beginning, Maine Agricultural Commissioner Walter Whitcomb has been telling our towns that State law preempts the authority of municipalities to make local laws that conflict with state and federal laws and regulations. In a letter dated April 6, 2011 that was sent to Maine towns where the Ordinance was passed, Commissioner Whitcomb stated “Department personnel are instructed to work with unlicensed food processors or manufacturers to gain their voluntary compliance with the law.” The letter goes on to say, “However, persons who fail to comply will be subject to enforcement, including the removal from sale of products from unlicensed sources and/or the imposition of fines.” Now in the case of one of our local family farmers, subject to lawsuit and injunction.

On Wednesday, November 9, Dan Brown, a family farmer in Blue Hill, Maine, was served a summons to answer three charges being filed against him by the State of Maine and Commissioner Whitcomb. The charges all stem from his selling food without licenses, in his case that’s milk, assorted dairy products like ice cream and cheese, and processed items like pickles and jams. He is also being charged with failure to label his alleged illegal milk “Not Pasteurized.” The safety or quality of Farmer Dan Brown’s food is not being questioned. What is being questioned, or rather challenged, is the right of the citizens of Blue Hill to operate in this manner.

Hear Dan Brown’s story here!

Read the summons here!

WE WANT DEMOCRACY IN THE FOOD SYSTEM!

When citizens of Blue Hill voted on April 4 to pass the Local Food & Community Self-Governance Ordinance the vote was nearly unanimous. The vote took place at Town Meeting, a New England tradition of direct democracy where people gather and make decisions about matters of importance to the town. In all five towns that passed the Ordinance – the others being Sedgwick, Penobscot, Trenton, and Hope – the residents of those towns voted on their own behalf, expressing their needs and desires, asserting their rights to govern this most basic human need. The State’s challenge raises the important question, Who gets to decide the rules that affect our local food system?

TAKE ACTION!

People are rallying behind Dan Brown and the Town of Blue Hill because We Are All Farmer Brown! If Dan loses, a chilling affect will ripple through all the Maine towns who have and are considering passing the Local Food & Community Self-Governance Ordinance. It will impede the successful growth of our small farms, our cottage food businesses, and put at risk the tradition of sharing meals at our churches, granges, potlucks, and bake sales. But most importantly, it will say to all the people around Maine, the U.S., and globe that, “No, you do not have the right to the food of your choice” and “No, you do not have democracy in the food system!”

As Cargill and other Big Agribusiness corporations continue to recall contaminated food in the millions of pounds, causing sickness and death, and getting off scott free, citizens in a growing number of towns around the country are taking matters into their own hands, creating rules that reflect the needs of farmers, food producers, and communities who are building healthy, resilient local food systems. Our success is your success — Our failure is your failure.

Please take a moment TODAY to contact the Maine Agricultural Commissioner and Governor Paul LePage and tell them to drop the lawsuit against Dan Brown and respect the authority of the Town of Blue Hill that was granted by the townspeople under the Local Food & Community Self-Governance Ordinance!

And join us in Blue Hill this Friday, November 18 for a press conference and rally at the Town Hall beginning at noon to show your support in person! 

Walter Whitcomb, Agricultural Commissioner, State of Maine
207-287-3419
walt.whitcomb@maine.gov

Governor Paul LePage
207-287-3531
888-577-6690 (TTY)
governor@maine.gov

MEDIA CALL

Thursday, November 17 10am-11am EST
866.305.2467
code 260454#
Dan Brown will make a statement and cover the counts listed in the summons. Bob St.Peter, family farmer from Sedgwick, Maine and director of Food for Maine’s Future will discuss the campaign calling on the State to withdraw the lawsuit.

Please help support the effort by making a contribution in whatever amount you can afford.

Sincerely,

Family Farm Defense Committee of Hancock County

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MEDIA ADVISORY — BLUE HILL MAINE FARMER BEING SUED BY STATE OF MAINE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 14, 2011

**MEDIA ADVISORY**

BLUE HILL MAINE FARMER BEING SUED BY STATE OF MAINE AND AGRICULTURAL COMMISSIONER
Town and supporters to rally this Friday

On Wednesday, November 9, Dan Brown, owner of Gravelwood Farm in Blue Hill, Maine, was served notice that he is being sued by the State of Maine and Walter Whitcomb, Maine Agricultural Commissioner, for selling food and milk without state licenses. Blue Hill is one of five Maine towns to have passed the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance, a local law that permits the types of sales Brown was engaged in. By filing the lawsuit, the State of Maine and Whitcomb are disregarding the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance passed nearly unanimously by the citizens of Blue Hill at their town meeting on April 4. Residents of Blue Hill will be attending the Selectmen’s meeting on Friday, November 18 to enforce the provisions of the Ordinance by instructing the Town of Blue Hill to send a letter to the Maine Department of Agriculture requesting the State withdraw the lawsuit and recognize the authority of the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance.

A rally and press conference will take place Friday at the Blue Hill Town Hall beginning at noon.

Follow us on http://www.facebook.com/WeAreFarmerBrown

MEDIA CALL
Thursday, November 17 10am-11am EST
866.305.2467
code 260454#
Dan Brown will make a statement and cover the counts listed in the summons. Bob St.Peter, family farmer from Sedgwick, Maine and director of Food for Maine’s Future will discuss the campaign calling on the State to withdraw the lawsuit.

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We Are All Farmer Brown

On Wednesday, November 9, Dan Brown, owner of Gravelwood Farm in Blue Hill, Maine, was served notice that he is being sued by the State of Maine for selling food and milk without State licenses. Blue Hill is one of five Maine towns to have passed the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance, a local law that permits the types of sales Brown was engaged in. By filing the lawsuit, the State of Maine and Walter Whitcomb, Maine Agricultural Commissioner, are disregarding the Local Food and Community Self-Governance passed nearly unanimously by the citizens of Blue Hill at their town meeting on April 4. Residents of Blue Hill will be attending the Selectmen’s meeting on Friday, November 18 to enforce the provisions of the Ordinance. The Blue Hill residents will be instructing the Town of Blue Hill to send a letter to theMaine Department of Agriculture requesting the State withdraw the lawsuit and recognize the authority of the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance.

A rally and press conference will take place Friday at the Blue Hill Town Hall. Details about this event and schedule for press calls will be released Monday, November 14.

Follow us on http://www.facebook.com/WeAreFarmerBrown

Please donate to support the We Are All Farmer Brown organizing effort.  Any and all contributions will be helpful. Thank you!

Posted in We Are All Farmer Brown | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance

http://localfoodlocalrules.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/localfoodlocalrules-ordinance-template.pdf

Posted in Local Food Ordinance | 4 Comments

Seven Principles of Food Sovereignty

Via Campesina’s Seven Principles of Food Sovereignty

  1. Food: A Basic Human Right. Everyone must have access to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food in sufficient quantity and quality to sustain a healthy life with full human dignity. Each nation should declare that access to food is a constitutional right and guarantee the development of the primary sector to ensure the concrete realization of this fundamental right.
  2. Agrarian Reform. A genuine agrarian reform is necessary which gives landless and farming people – especially women – ownership and control of the land they work and returns territories to indigenous peoples. The right to land must be free of discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, race, social class or ideology; the land belongs to those who work it.
  3. Protecting Natural Resources. Food Sovereignty entails the sustainable care and use of natural resources, especially land, water, and seeds and livestock breeds. The people who work the land must have the right to practice sustainable management of natural resources and to conserve biodiversity free of restrictive intellectual property rights. This can only be done from a sound economic basis with security of tenure, healthy soils and reduced use of agro-chemicals.
  4. Reorganizing Food Trade. Food is first and foremost a source of nutrition and only secondarily an item of trade. National agricultural policies must prioritize production for domestic consumption and food self-sufficiency. Food imports must not displace local production nor depress prices.
  5. Ending the Globalization of Hunger. Food Sovereignty is undermined by multilateral institutions and by speculative capital. The growing control of multinational corporations over agricultural policies has been facilitated by the economic policies of multilateral organizations such as the WTO, World Bank and the IMF. Regulation and taxation of speculative capital and a strictly enforced Code of Conduct for TNCs is therefore needed.
  6. Social Peace. Everyone has the right to be free from violence. Food must not be used as a weapon. Increasing levels of poverty and marginalization in the countryside, along with the growing oppression of ethnic minorities and indigenous populations, aggravate situations of injustice and hopelessness. The ongoing displacement, forced urbanization, repression and increasing incidence of racism of smallholder farmers cannot be tolerated.
  7. Democratic control. Smallholder farmers must have direct input into formulating agricultural policies at all levels. The United Nations and related organizations will have to undergo a process of democratization to enable this to become a reality. Everyone has the right to honest, accurate information and open and democratic decision-making. These rights form the basis of good governance, accountability and equal participation in economic, political and social life, free from all forms of discrimination. Rural women, in particular, must be granted direct and active decision-making on food and rural issues.
Posted in Food Sovereignty | 4 Comments