April 5, 2012

Augusta rally will protest food safety problems

By Avery Yale Kamila akamila@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

The advocacy group Food for Maine's Future plans a rally April 17 outside the Maine Department of Agriculture in Augusta to demand "accountability and real safety in the food system."

Called "Where's the (Real) Beef?," the rally was organized in response to a series of stories written by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram about the recent recall of salmonella contaminated ground beef from the Hannaford supermarket chain. The series exposed food safety failures by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and retailers. The USDA wasn't able to determine the cause of the contamination, and Hannaford refused to publicly name its ground beef suppliers.

Organizers of the protest claim large industrial agriculture businesses are allowed to operate with limited accountability and transparency, while "small and diversified family farms are being regulated out of existence."

Following the rally, the protesters plan to march to the State House to deliver a petition signed by more than 2,000 people demanding that Gov. Paul LePage drop a lawsuit against dairy farmer Dan Brown of Blue Hill. The state of Maine has sued Brown in Hancock County Superior Court for selling milk without a distributor's license. Blue Hill is one of five towns in Maine that have passed ordinances allowing small farmers to sell directly to consumers without a license.

The rally is planned for 11 a.m. at 28 State House Station.


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