More Food Rights Bills at the Maine State Legislature

  These bills will be heard on Thursday May 7th, 2015 by the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry in room 214 of the Cross Office Building in Augusta.   Immediately following the hearings on these bills the committee will go into work session to consider LD 783 the Right to Food Constitutional Amendment that had its public hearings last Thursday and LD 991 the act to amend the current GMO labeling law here in Maine.

Please join us if you can. 
HP0644, LD 925 An Act To Promote Small Diversified Farms and Small Food Producers
Representative Ralph Chapman’s bill to make the local food sovereignty ordinances statewide.
SUMMARY:   This bill facilitates direct sales between Maine farmers and consumers. It allows persons 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.
SP0459, LD 1284 An Act To Expand the Local Foods Economy
A bill submitted by Senator Chris Johnson concerning fresh food sales to institutions.
SUMMARY:   This bill requires the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to administer programs to support the expansion and coordination of the use of fresh Maine foods in aggregated and institutional markets, including school food service programs.
The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is directed to provide grants under the agricultural development grant program for the purpose of conducting market feasibility studies and developing business plans for local food infrastructure operations in Maine to connect and enhance relationships between fresh food producers in Maine and aggregated and institutional markets, including school food service programs, and food purveyors. The Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry may not award a local foods grant unless the applicant provides matching funds in an amount that is no less than 50% of the grant amount.
The department is also directed to provide loans under the Agricultural Marketing Loan Fund to applicants in diverse geographic areas in the State for the purpose of establishing local food infrastructure operations located in Maine. Prior to awarding a local food infrastructure loan, the Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is required to determine that the potential overall impact of a proposal on Maine’s agricultural economy and industry is beneficial to and in the best interest of the State.
The bill also establishes the Maine Food Infrastructure Advisory Committee, which includes representatives of statewide and regional organizations involved in supporting agriculture, public health, the environment and the state economy, including representatives of the member entities of the farm-to-school work group established by Resolve 2009, chapter 106.
HP0877, LD 1291 An Act To Promote Food Self-sufficiency for the People of the State
Representative Craig Hickman’s bill with the local food sovereignty ordinance in article 4.
SUMMARY:   This bill directs the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, in coordination with various state agencies, to develop and administer an agricultural jobs network linking farms and facilities that process agricultural products grown in the State with available workers who are involved in farming or a local food industry or who are required to perform community service and to develop an educational marketing campaign to promote food self-sufficiency by encouraging the public to grow gardens, to raise farm animals and to preserve garden-grown food. This bill also requires the department, to the extent practicable, to purchase food grown, harvested, prepared, processed or produced in the State when purchasing food for an emergency or supplemental food program for elderly or low-income persons.
SP0506, LD 1376 An Act To Establish a Local Food Producers and Processors to Consumers Pilot Program

Senator Brian Langley’s bill to establish a pilot program.

SUMMARY:  This bill establishes the Local Food Producers and Processors to Consumers Pilot Program. The pilot program exempts local producers and processors in the towns of Blue Hill, Brooksville, Penobscot, Sedgwick and Brooklin, all of which have adopted local food self-governance ordinances, from all state licensure and inspection requirements with respect to the production and processing of local foods for sale directly to consumers. The pilot program is repealed in 2022. Each year the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is required to submit a report on the pilot program to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over agricultural matters including any assessment of or comments about the pilot program provided by interested persons, including producers, processors and consumers participating in the pilot program. Upon receipt of the report, the committee may report out a bill relating to the pilot program.

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