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June 22, 2012 | last updated June 22, 2012 12:49 pm

More towns pass food sovereignty ordinances

Two Maine towns have followed a handful of others in approving a food sovereignty ordinance giving farmers and producers more leeway to sell their products, despite federal and state officials warnings that the ordinances aren't valid. Residents in Livermore and Appleton recently voted in favor of local food and community self-governance ordinances that they said give the towns more control over how small farms sell their food to the public, according to The Associated Press.

Last year, six Maine towns -- Blue Hill, Hope, Penobscot, Plymouth and Trenton -- passed similar ordinances to allow farmers and others to sell food products without state licenses or inspections. Douglas Wollmar, a small farmer in Blue Hill, told The AP the ordinances send a message to state and federal government that people favor fewer food regulations, and that the state should change its laws. But Agriculture Commissioner Walt Whitcomb said licenses and inspections are important to protect public health, and that the local ordinances are invalid because state and federal law supersede them.

The issue of food sovereignty has gained national media attention, and towns in other New England states have passed similar ordinances. It's also caused some tension between local and state officials. Another Blue Hill farmer, Dan Brown of Gravelwood Farm, was sued in November by the Department of Agriculture for selling unpasteurized milk without a license.

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