Town Meeting voters on Saturday approved a food sovereignty ordinance, which will allow local farmers and other food producers to sell the foods their produce directly to consumers in town without being licensed or inspected by the state.

The ordinance was modeled on state legislation passed last year, the Maine Food Sovereignty Act, which reinforces the “home rule” abilities of Maine’s municipalities to regulate direct producer-to-consumer transactions within their borders, without the state stepping in.

The ordinance does not apply to meat, which is still regulated at the federal level.

Paul Crockett, chairman of the Mount Vernon selectmen, said Sunday several residents brought up the idea of food sovereignty for Mount Vernon last year. To get the proper wording, he said, the town essentially “copy and pasted” the relatively new state rules into the town’s ordinance.

The vote in Mount Vernon follows similar action elsewhere to adopt food ordinances in Maine, including votes in Starks, Madison and Solon. Rep. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, championed the state law change.

The ordinance states, in part, “We have faith in our citizens’ ability to educate themselves and make informed decisions. We hold that certain federal and state regulations unnecessarily impede local food production and constitute an usurpation of our citizens’ right to foods of their choice. We support food that fundamentally respects human dignity and health; nourishes individuals and the community; and sustains producers, processors, and the environment. We are therefore duty bound under the Constitution of the State of Maine to protect and promote reasonably unimpeded access to local foods.”

The proposed local ordinance and every other item on the warrant of Saturday’s Town Meeting were approved easily by residents, Crockett said.

Crockett said about 40 residents attended the meeting, which began just after 9 a.m. and was complete just past 10:30 a.m.

“It was a very smooth Town Meeting,” Crockett said.

Among the other articles approved by voters Saturday was a request to spend up to $50,000 from the fund balance, an account made up of funds unspent in previous years, for the expansion of Dr. Shaw Memorial Library. Crockett said last year residents voted to provide $50,000 toward the cost of library renovations, which largely have been paid for with privately raised money. The $50,000 residents agreed to Saturday would help pay for a new elevator to obtain access to the library’s second floor. The two-story addition, with about 1,200 square feet on each floor, is meant to provide more space for books and programs.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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