A public hearing for my bill LD 475, "An Act To Increase Food Sovereignty in Local Communities" has been scheduled for Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 1:00PM, Cross Building, Room 214. I look forward to a great turnout in support of the right of local communities to govern their own food systems as they see fit.
It is a short bill that reads as follows:
CONCEPT DRAFT SUMMARY
This bill is a concept draft pursuant to Joint Rule 208.
This bill proposes to enact measures designed to:
1. Preserve the ability of local communities to produce, process, sell, purchase and consume local foods;
2. Ensure the preservation of family farms; and
3. Enhance the economic, environmental and social wealth of local communities by supporting family farms and sustainable agricultural practices and promoting the unimpeded ability of individuals, families and other entities to process or prepare foods for home consumption.
That's all there is to it right now.
I have been asked why it's so short and why it doesn't propose to enact measures that will increase food sovereignty as outlined.
A concept draft, like any bill, is fleshed out by committee in work session, taking into consideration all written and oral testimony. The people will make suggestions about the language used to enact such measures. That is why I presented this as a concept draft: to allow people the most input. During work session, the committee could draft language that simply affirms the local ordinances that have already been passed or that will be passed in the future. Or, the committee could take any number of other actions on the bill in work session. One of those actions could be to turn the concept draft into a resolution for a constitutional amendment, which would require a 2/3 vote of both chambers. If it gets over that threshold, it goes to the people for direct vote. A majority vote at the ballot box would enshrine the values of food sovereignty into the Maine Constitution. I'm not saying any of this will happen, of course, but it's possible.
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Immediately following the public hearing on LD 475 will be a hearing on my bill LD 476, "Resolve, Directing the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry To Develop a Policy To Reduce Food Waste in All State-funded Institutions." It reads as follows:
Sec. 1 Development of plan. Resolved: That the Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Commissioner of Environmental Protection shall jointly develop a comprehensive policy to reduce food waste in all state-funded buildings and institutions. In developing the policy, the commissioners shall consider initiatives undertaken in other jurisdictions, including but not limited to policies that support, within state-funded buildings and institutions:
1. The collection of leftover food from cafeterias and food service entities and the identification and donation of appropriate food items to nonprofit organizations, food pantries and shelters;
2. The collection of food waste and the distribution of appropriate food waste to farmers and others to be used as food for livestock;
3. The composting of food waste and the distribution of such compost to farmers and growers for use in production of new food products; and
4. The use of compost created pursuant to subsection 3 on state grounds, including but not limited to Capitol Park, state parks and the grounds and landscaping of state-funded buildings; and be it further
Sec. 2 Report. Resolved: That the Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Commissioner of Environmental Protection shall jointly submit a report detailing the policy developed pursuant to section 1, together with any recommendations, to the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry no later than December 4, 2013. The committee may submit legislation to the Second Regular Session of the 126th Legislature to implement recommendations contained in the report.
This resolve requires the Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Commissioner of Environmental Protection to develop a comprehensive policy to reduce food waste in all state-funded buildings and institutions and to submit a report detailing the policy, together with any recommendations, to the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry by December 4, 2013. The committee may submit legislation to the Second Regular Session of the 126th Legislature to implement recommendations contained in the report.