January 29, 2020
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Legislature fixes food sovereignty bill to comply with state and federal rules

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, bangs the gavel on Monday at the State House in Augusta on Monday.

The Legislature made short work Monday of fixing Maine’s new food sovereignty law so it isn’t at odds with federal food rules.

LD 1648 was approved in unanimous votes and sent to Gov. Paul LePage for consideration. The original bill allowed municipalities to regulate local food systems, including production, processing, consumption and direct producer-to-consumer exchanges, which were previously regulated at the state and federal level. It is the first state law of its kind in the country and goes into effect Nov. 1.

The federal government notified the state in July that meat and poultry needs to be excluded from the bill so state officials can continue to regulate those products. The bill passed Monday establishes that municipalities must comply with state and federal laws when developing local ordinances for meat and poultry production and sales. Without the law’s passage, the federal government said it would take over the state’s food inspection program for those products.

The food sovereignty bill was one of two reasons LePage called this week’s special legislative session. The other reason involved funding for the Maine Office of Geographic Information Systems, which handles the state’s mapping activities for a number of purposes. That snafu was also corrected Monday.

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