Customers enjoy an easy camaraderie at the Blue Hill Co-op. The store moved to a new location in 2019. Credit: Nick Sambides Jr. / BDN

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine voters could be the first state in the U.S. to decide to amend the state constitution to establish growing and consuming food as a constitutional right.

The proposal will be added to the Nov. 2 ballot, the  Portland Press Herald reported. Efforts to establish food rights is an evolution of the movement that produced the Maine Food Sovereignty Act. The act authorized cities in Maine to adopt local food ordinances.

“You have to have a right to food because food is life,” said Sen. Craig Hickman, a farmer and a supporter of the potential amendment.

Critics of the amendment say it could have unforeseen consequences for food safety and animal welfare as judges interpret the amendment in future court cases.

The bill was approved by a majority in both the House and Senate and will not require the approval of Gov. Janet Mills before it goes directly to the ballot, the newspaper said.

As for Mills, she has a neutral stance on the amendment, stating it supports local food production and farms. She also expressed concerns over the uncertain impact a new constitutional right may have on existing laws.