May 6, 2013

Court: State law trumps local food ordinances

Local ordinances to exempt farmers and food producers from the state's regulatory oversight for food products won't hold up in court, according to a recent Superior Court ruling.

The Bangor Daily News reported Blue Hill farmer Dan Brown's loss in civil court in late April established that local "food sovereignty" ordinances cannot exempt farmers from selling food items — like raw milk — from state regulations.

The paper reported that similar local ordinances, exempting from state inspection and licensure farmers who sell directly to customers, have been passed in eight other towns: Appleton, Brooksville, Hope, Livermore, Penobscot, Plymouth, Sedgwick and Trenton.

The civil judgment against Brown comes after the state's Department of Agriculture filed suit in 2011. Brown told the Penobscot Bay Press last week that he plans to appeal the decision.

John Bott, a spokesman with the department, told the paper that the state is still reviewing the decision and would not comment on whether it has plans to go after other towns where similar local food ordinances have been passed.


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