Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series
Overview: Maine has become the first state in the country to establish a right to grow, harvest, and consume one’s own food.
Population: 1.4 million
Food policy category: Food production, food security
Program goals: To give local communities control of their food supply and to increase food security.
How it works: Under the right to food amendment, Maine residents will be allowed to create their own food supply, within specified legal parameters. They will be able to save and exchange seeds for growing food, and to produce, consume, and sell their own food without corporate interference.
The amendment does not affect food assistance programs.
Progress to date: The amendment passed on November 2, 2021.
Why it is important: The purpose of the right to food amendment is to allow Maine residents to regain control over their food supply rather than allowing large landowners and corporations, who have little or no connection to the community, to control it.
According to the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, 92 percent of Maine’s food supply comes from out of state, even though the state already has the natural resources necessary to be self-sufficient. A right to food will increase local food access for all Maine residents by making it easier to produce, sell, purchase, and consume, thereby also improving the local food economy.
Program/Policy initiated: The amendment was approved by voters during the general election on November 2, 2021, but will require court decisions before full implementation can begin.
Point of contact:
State Representative Billy Bob Faulkingham
Phone: (207) 460-6967
Similar practices: West Virginia has proposed a similar amendment but it has not yet been passed.
Evaluation: Evaluation has not yet been conducted. However, those opposed are concerned about potential risks to food safety and animal welfare if individuals are allowed to produce and sell their own food without regulations. The state court system will ultimately decide what regulations, if any, will need to be enforced within the scope of the amendment.
- The Battle Over Maine’s ‘Right to Food’ Could be Waged in Cities and Towns (Bangor Daily News)
- The Right to Food (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
- The Right to Food Movement: Fighting Hunger is About Justice, Not Charity (The Seattle Times)
- 2021 Maine Referendums (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association)
- Alert: MFB Opposes Question 3 on November 2nd (Maine Farm Bureau)
- Maine Just Voted to Become the Nation’s First ‘Right to Food’ State. What Does That Mean? (Washington Post)
- Maine Passes Nation’s 1st ‘Right to Food’ Amendment (US News)
- Maine Passes Nation’s First ‘Right to Food’ Amendment (Modern Farmer)
- Resolution, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Establish a Right to Food (130th Maine Legislature)
- Right to Food: Maine’s New Constitutional Amendment (National Law Review)
- West Virginia Legislators Propose a ‘Right to Food’ Amendment (Modern Farmer)