Saturday, May 2, 2015

Joel Salatin's Testimony on Right to Food

With Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm and our not-so-smart phones at the Right to Food, Right to Know Rally before public hearings on LD 783 and LD 991 on April 30, 2015


Senator Edgecomb, Representative Hickman, and other distinguished members of the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry: my name is Joel Salatin from Virginia and I am here to testify in favor of LD 783, a constitutional amendment to establish a right to food. I’m a farmer, eater, and more importantly, custodian of a 3 trillion member internal community of bacterial beings energizing my personhood.

The only reason the founders of our great republic did not include food rights alongside the right to bear arms, to speak, and to worship was because no one at that time could have envisioned a day when citizens could not acquire the food of their choice from the source of their choice.

Prior to fairly modern times, people depended on their communities for food. Production, preserving, processing, and packaging were all done in a fairly transparent relational transaction. Shoddy participants experienced community censure to maintain hygiene and standards.

With the rise of the industrial food system, this accountability by the commons was replaced by governmental administrative bureaucracy. An opaque industrial food system created a desire in the culture for oversight. That oversight has arguably become just as opaque and industrial as the entity it was created to police. Instead of consenting adults voluntarily self-actualizing their decision-making freedom to private contract, regulators began defining and manipulating food commerce.

Large industrial food businesses curried favor with regulators and politicians who empowered them. Gradually an unholy alliance between industrial food and farm enterprises and the regulatory fraternity, encouraged by an increasingly paranoid, ignorant, and disenfranchised consuming populace, demonized, marginalized, and criminalized historic freedom of choice through the food commons.

Butter and lard were out; hydrogenated vegetable oil was in. Raw milk was out; Coke and Mountain Dew were in. Homemade quiche was out; microwavable hot pockets with unpronounceable ingredients were in. As the official USDA food pyramid wreaks its havoc on the population by encouraging carbohydrates and empty calories, many citizens realize government-sanctioned food and farming bankrupt our health and wellness.

Many of us yearn to opt out of this enslaving orthodoxy. We prefer homemade anything, knowing our farmers, loving compost piles, animals that don’t do drugs, and acquiring most of our food from sources we vet through personal knowledge or the scuttlebutt wafting through the commons.

But to our dismay, we’ve found our choices blocked. We can’t buy the wholesome quiche from our neighbor. In order to sell me her unadulterated, small-ingredient quiche, she must capitalize a commercial kitchen and navigate a labyrinth of licenses, compliances, and infrastructure. The result is that my government denies me the freedom to purchase food through my commons. I can’t exercise freedom of choice; I must depend on administrative regulators to determine my body’s fuel.

I can’t imagine a more basic human right, a more bi-partisan issue, than protecting my right to choose my body’s food. Who could possibly think that such freedom of choice should be denied? We allow people to smoke, shoot, preach, home educate, spray their yards with chemicals, buy lottery tickets, and read about the Kardashians: wouldn’t you think we could let people choose their food?

It is time to give us back the food freedom our ancestors enjoyed. Freedom is not a focus group exercise. If we can’t taste freedom, we can only talk about it, and that leaves liberty hollow. It’s time for us to embrace the innovation and food security solutions that granting a fundamental right to food engenders. You’ve been gracious to let me address you this afternoon. Now please do the right thing and vote yes on LD 783.

Thank you.


Amendment LD 783 reads as follows, “Right to food. Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to food and to acquire food for that individual’s own nourishment and sustenance by hunting, gathering, foraging, farming, fishing or gardening or by barter, trade or purchase from sources of that individual’s own choosing, and every individual is fully responsible for the exercise of this right, which may not be infringed.”

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Rep. Hickman Introduces Bill Establishing a Right to Food

Maine has New England’s highest rate of food insecurity

AUGUSTA – A bill to establish a constitutional amendment declaring that every individual has a natural and unalienable right to food will be heard before the Legislature this Thursday, April 30, 2105, before the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Rep. Craig Hickman of Winthrop has introduced LD 783, a resolution that would amend Maine’s Constitution to address the issues of food security and food self-sufficiency in Maine.

“Food is life,” said Hickman. “I believe that access to wholesome food is a right for every individual. When one in four children among us goes to bed hungry every night, we must do better. We cannot allow a single one of us to go hungry for a single day. Maine has all the natural resources and the hard-working, independent-spirited people to grow, catch, forage, process, prepare and distribute enough food to feed ourselves and strengthen our local economies. Let us stop importing more food per capita than any other state on the continent.”

Because the bill proposes to amend the Constitution, two thirds of the Legislature will need to approve the resolution and send it to the People for a vote in the next statewide election.

With more than 84,000 hungry children, Maine has New England’s highest rate of food insecurity, according to the USDA

“There is nothing more intimate than eating,” Hickman said. “People are demanding access to the kinds of food that they determine are best for their own health and the health of their families.

"Food is life. This resolution declares that all individuals have a right to the food of their own choosing and that they be personally responsible for the exercise of this right. I believe that the good people of Maine, if given a chance at the ballot box, will resoundingly agree.”

The bill was referred to the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee, where it will receive a public hearing on Thursday, April 30, 2015, at 1:00 PM, Cross Office Building, Room 214. There will be a rally at noon in support of LD 783 and LD 991, an act to remove the trigger from Maine's GMO labeling law.

"I am honored that Mr. Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm in Virginia will appear and testify in favor of the right to food," said Hickman. "He has been an inspiration to me ever since I first saw him in the feature documentary Food Inc."

Hickman is an organic farmer and House chair of the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee. He is serving his second term in the Maine House and represents Winthrop, Readfield and part of North Monmouth at the foot of Mt. Pisgah.


Speaker Appoints Rep. Hickman to Maine Citizen Trade Policy Commission

AUGUSTA – Rep. Craig Hickman of Winthrop has been appointed to the Maine Citizen Trade Policy Commission by House Speaker Mark Eves.

“It is a great honor to have been appointed to this commission,” said Hickman. “I intend to work hard to ensure that Maine is well represented in trade agreements that affect our state.”

Hickman, an organic farmer and House chair of the Legislature’s Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee, has concerns about how fast-track trade agreements will affect Maine farms and rural livelihoods, as voiced in a recent op-ed coauthored with former Rep. Sharon Anglin Treat. They noted that a commission report highlighted key concerns about the impact of free trade agreements on Maine agriculture, including how the Trans-Pacific Partnership could affect dairy stabilization efforts and the proposed elimination of local food procurement preferences in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

The commission was created in 2004 to give Mainers a stronger voice in federally negotiated international trade agreements and to monitor how those agreements affect state and local laws, working conditions and the local economy.

Hickman is serving his second term in the Maine House and represents Winthrop, Readfield, and part of North Monmouth at the foot of Mt. Pisgah.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

AUDIO: Remarks of Representative Craig V. Hickman on the Joint Resolution Recognizing the 50th Anniversary of the March from Selma to Montgomery

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led marchers across the Alabama River on the first of a five-day, 50-mile march up Route 80 from Selma to the state Capitol at Montgomery, Alabama, on March 21, 1965. (Associated Press file photo)

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addresses the crowd March 29, 1965, at the concluding event of the Capitol march. A huge crowd massed in front of the state building for the demonstration. (The Birmingham News file photo)

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. looking over his shoulder in the Capitol Rotunda, Washington, DC, July 2, 1964. (White House Press Office photo)

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with other Civil Rights Leaders, in the Capitol Rotunda, Washington, DC, August 6, 1965. (US National Archives photo.)

Floor Speech (Click Play Below to Listen): Remarks of Representative Craig Von Hickman of Winthrop, Maine, on the Joint Resolution Recognizing the 50th Anniversary of the March from Selma to Montgomery – Maine House of Representatives, March 25, 2015 (AUDIO COURTESY OF MAINE PUBLIC BROADCASTING NETWORK. PLEASE DO NOT BROADCAST, PUBLISH, OR SHARE WITHOUT CREDIT.)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Floor Speech: 50th Anniversary of Selma to Montgomery March

Remarks of Representative Craig Hickman on the Joint Resolution Recognizing the 50th Anniversary of the March from Selma to Montgomery – March 25, 2015

Mr. Speaker, women and men of the House, “in a murderous time/ the heart breaks and breaks/ and lives by breaking.” Those are the words of two-time Poet Laureate and National Book Award recipient Stanley Kunitz. “The heart breaks and breaks and lives by breaking.” 

My heart has been breaking a lot lately. Not just because I recently buried my beloved mother, but also because recent events throughout the nation and even here at home are ripping my heart to shreds. But today, I want to go back and remember words of wisdom. Words of inspiration to a nation divided. I wasn’t here 50 years ago and I won’t be here 50 years from now. And so, if you would indulge me, Mr. Speaker, I would like to deliver some excerpts from the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “How Long, Not Long” speech in Montgomery, Alabama, at the culmination of the Selma to Montgomery March on March 25, 1965.

 And so I quote:

My dear and abiding friends, Ralph Abernathy, and to all of the distinguished Americans seated here on the rostrum, my friends and co-workers of the state of Alabama, and to all of the freedom-loving people who have assembled here this afternoon from all over our nation and from all over the world: Last Sunday, more than eight thousand of us started on a mighty walk from Selma, Alabama. We have walked through desolate valleys and across the trying hills. We have walked on meandering highways and rested our bodies on rocky byways. Some of our faces are burned from the outpourings of the sweltering sun. Some have literally slept in the mud. We have been drenched by the rains.
But today as I stand before you and think back over that great march, I can say, as Sister Pollard said—a seventy-year-old Negro woman who lived in this community during the bus boycott—and one day, she was asked while walking if she didn’t want [a] ride. And when she answered, "No," the person said, "Well, aren’t you tired?" And with her ungrammatical profundity, she said, "My feets is tired, but my soul is rested." And in a real sense this afternoon, we can say that our feet are tired, but our souls are rested.

They told us we wouldn’t get here. And there were those who said that we would get here only over their dead bodies, but all the world today knows that we are here and we are standing before the forces of power in the state of Alabama saying, "We ain’t goin’ let nobody turn us around." 


[Now] strangely, the climactic conflicts always were fought and won on Alabama soil. After Montgomery’s, heroic confrontations loomed up in Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, and elsewhere. But not until the colossus of segregation was challenged in Birmingham did the conscience of America begin to bleed…. America was profoundly aroused by Birmingham because it witnessed the whole community of Negroes facing terror and brutality with majestic scorn and heroic courage. And from the wells of this democratic spirit, the nation finally forced Congress to write legislation in the hope that it would eradicate the stain of Birmingham. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave Negroes some part of their rightful dignity, but without the vote it was dignity without strength. 


[And so] our whole campaign in Alabama has been centered around the right to vote. In focusing the attention of the nation and the world today on the flagrant denial of the right to vote, we are exposing the very origin, the root cause, of racial segregation in the Southland. Racial segregation as a way of life did not come about as a natural result of hatred between the races immediately after the Civil War. There were no laws segregating the races then. And as the noted historian, C. Vann Woodward, in his book, The Strange Career of Jim Crow, clearly points out, the segregation of the races was really a political stratagem employed by the emerging Bourbon interests in the South to keep the southern masses divided and southern labor the cheapest in the land. You see, it was a simple thing to keep the poor white masses working for near-starvation wages in the years that followed the Civil War. Why, if the poor white plantation or mill worker became dissatisfied with his low wages, the plantation or mill owner would merely threaten to fire him and hire former Negro slaves and pay him even less. Thus, the southern wage level was kept almost unbearably low.


If it may be said of the slavery era that the white man took the world and gave the Negro Jesus, then it may be said of the Reconstruction era that the southern aristocracy took the world and gave the poor white man Jim Crow. He gave him Jim Crow. And when his wrinkled stomach cried out for the food that his empty pockets could not provide, he ate Jim Crow, a psychological bird that told him that no matter how bad off he was, at least he was a white man, better than the black man. And he ate Jim Crow. And when his undernourished children cried out for the necessities that his low wages could not provide, he showed them the Jim Crow signs on the buses and in the stores, on the streets and in the public buildings. And his children, too, learned to feed upon Jim Crow, their last outpost of psychological oblivion.

Thus, the threat of the free exercise of the ballot by the Negro and the white masses alike resulted in the establishment of a segregated society. They segregated southern money from the poor whites; they segregated southern mores from the rich whites; they segregated southern churches from Christianity; they segregated southern minds from honest thinking; and they segregated the Negro from everything. That’s what happened when the Negro and white masses of the South threatened to unite and build a great society: a society of justice where none would pray upon the weakness of others; a society of plenty where greed and poverty would be done away; a society of brotherhood where every man would respect the dignity and worth of human personality. 

Today I want to tell the city of Selma, today I want to say to the state of Alabama, today I want to say to the people of America and the nations of the world, that we are not about to turn around. We are on the move now. 

Yes, we are on the move and no wave of racism can stop us. We are on the move now. The burning of our churches will not deter us. The bombing of our homes will not dissuade us. We are on the move now. The beating and killing of our clergymen and young people will not divert us. We are on the move now…. Like an idea whose time has come, not even the marching of mighty armies can halt us. We are moving to the land of freedom. 

Let us therefore continue our triumphant march to the realization of the American dream….

Let us march on segregated schools until every vestige of segregated and inferior education becomes a thing of the past…

Let us march on poverty until no American parent has to skip a meal so that their children may eat. March on poverty until no starved man walks the streets of our cities and towns in search of jobs that do not exist. Let us march on poverty until wrinkled stomachs in Mississippi are filled, and the idle industries of Appalachia are realized and revitalized, and broken lives in sweltering ghettos are mended and remolded.

Let us march on ballot boxes… until race-baiters disappear from the political arena.

Let us march on ballot boxes until the salient misdeeds of bloodthirsty mobs will be transformed into the calculated good deeds of orderly citizens. 

Let us march on ballot boxes until the [George] Wallaces of our nation tremble away in silence.

Let us march on ballot boxes until we send to our city councils, state legislatures, and the United States Congress, men who will not fear to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.

Let us march on ballot boxes until brotherhood becomes more than a meaningless word in an opening prayer, but the order of the day on every legislative agenda….


The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy that recognizes the dignity and worth of all of God’s children. The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy that allows judgment to run down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. The only normalcy that we will settle for is….the normalcy of true peace, the normalcy of justice.

And so as we go away this afternoon, let us go away more than ever before committed to this struggle and committed to nonviolence.… Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding. We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. 

I know you are asking today, "How long will it take?" Somebody’s asking, "How long will prejudice blind the visions of men, darken their understanding, and drive bright-eyed wisdom from her sacred throne?" Somebody’s asking, "When will wounded justice, lying prostrate on the streets of Selma and Birmingham and communities all over the South, be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men?" Somebody’s asking, "When will the radiant star of hope be plunged against the nocturnal bosom of this lonely night, plucked from weary souls with chains of fear and the manacles of death? How long will justice be crucified, and truth bear it?" 

I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because "truth crushed to earth will rise again." 

How long? Not long, because "no lie can live forever." 

How long? Not long, because "you shall reap what you sow." 


How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

How long? Not long, because:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; 

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; 

He has loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword; 

His truth is marching on. 

Glory, glory, hallelujah!  Glory, glory, hallelujah!  Glory, glory, hallelujah!

His truth is marching on. 

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Maine State Forester Sharply Questioned On Public Lands Report

From the March Maine Forest Products Council Newsletter:

About halfway through the Bureau of Public Lands’ annual report, Rep. Craig Hickman leaned into his microphone and, as one onlooker put it later, “tipped over a beehive.”

"The ACF Committee room was unusually crowded March 10, perhaps because of the controversy last session over Gov. LePage’s unsuccessful proposal to expand harvesting on public lands to fund heating efficiency programs. But LePage has not given up on his plan, saying he’ll withhold $11.4 million in bonds for the Land for Maine’s Future program until timber harvesting on state-owned lands is increased to aid efficiency programs. The governor’s budget also would move public lands to the Maine Forest Service (MFS), which also is raising concerns.

"The March 9th meeting started quietly. For the first hour, Doug Denico, MFS director, simply went through the BPL report, page by page. He’d reached Page 24, when Hickman, D-Winthrop, who is House chair said, “Mr. Denico, I just have a question. I was looking forward to asking the acting director of Public Lands the question that I asked at the public hearing, but he is not here today. Is he still employed?” (Read more)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Floor Speech: Honoring a Hero

Senator Earle McCormick and Representative Craig Hickman present a sentiment to Sharon Wise of Winthrop


Mr. Speaker, women and men of the House, I rise to honor the heroism of Ms. Sharon Wise of Winthrop, who, back in December, was ready to fight to keep a young girl from being abducted, but first, I would like to read from the Posting Guidance for Federal Agencies as presented by the U.S. General Services Administration Missing Child Notice Program. And I quote:
  • At the beginning of each month, all notices from the previous month should be removed and replaced with new notices. It is important that new notices are not added to existing notices. Listing more than ten at a time reduces the impact of the program.
  • When selecting a site within your building to display notices, choose wisely. Ensure that notices are posted in public areas and offer maximum exposure to the public.
  • Missing child notices present a powerful and emotional message, therefore, keep all hardcopy displays tasteful and modest in size out of respect for employees who may see the pictures repeatedly.
End quote.

The compassion on display in this guidance underscores an alarming statistic:

Every 40 seconds in the United States, a child goes missing or is abducted. Every 40 seconds.

And so, yes, missing child notices present a powerful and emotional message. I’m sure we’ve all seen them. Children’s faces plastered on the walls of the post office or the grocery store.

Every 40 seconds.

According to the most recent published statistics here in Maine, since 1971, seven children reported missing have not been found. Their families have no closure. There is a grief that knows no outlet. Can you imagine the emotional turmoil of mother who goes every single day to the last place her son was seen hoping to find him right there calling out for her? Can you imagine the desperation of a father, who, every time he hears the wind blow open the gate to the back yard, runs to a window hoping to see his daughter walking up to the back door. Can you imagine?

Later today or tomorrow or the next, I say go hug your children or grandchildren, your young nieces and nephews and godchildren. Embrace them as often as you can. Let them know that they are special little angels and that you love them from the bottom of your heart. For in the blink of an eye, any one of them could go missing. We wouldn’t wish that heart-shattering tragedy on any parent or grandparent or uncle or aunt. And so when you hold your children close and tell them how special they are, think of those whose vigilance, responsiveness and bravery have kept families whole. 

And so, Mr. Speaker, women and men of the House, I rise also to say this:

Let us honor Ms. Sharon Wise of Winthrop, who, as far as our research could take us, prevented the first abduction of a child by a stranger in the State of Maine. 

I’m going to say it again:

Because of the vigilance, responsiveness and bravery of Ms. Sharon Wise of Winthrop, the first abduction of a child by a stranger in the State of Maine was stopped, while it was happening. The man could have drawn a weapon on her as she pulled the child back from his grip, and even if that crossed her mind, she was undeterred and kept a 2-year-old girl from being taken from her grandmother in plain daylight. And she did it all on a bad knee.

Talk about going above and beyond.

“Generations,” wrote James Baldwin, “do not cease to be born and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have.”

Today, we thank Ms. Wise for bearing witness. Today, we honor her for her heroism. Today, we are most grateful to Sharon Wise for her brave act of love. Her example is a blessing. Her example is an inspiration.

May we all be so vigilant, so responsive, and so brave.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.