Maine is a very food-friendly state, with a number of laws to promote and protect the right of people to grow and raise their own food and provide the same protections that proponents of Question 3 – the Maine Right to Produce, Harvest and Consume Food Amendment – claim the amendment preserves.

This includes the Maine Agricultural Protection Act, which shields farming operations and livestock facilities from being subject to the state nuisance laws that attach to every other industry in the state. Other state laws and policies and ordinances enacted in municipalities across the state allow agricultural operations and food production activities to take place without interference.

The amendment terms are so vague that no one can predict what practices will be constitutionally protected and what abuses will be tolerated. The courts will decide, on a case-by-case basis, after many years of nonstop litigation (and the expenses, including taxpayer money and resources those efforts entail) to determine what constitutes “abuses” and what protective restrictions are left to stand. It will be a never-ending cycle as new cases are brought and new rulings emerge, creating a landscape of legal uncertainty for food producers and those who face the impacts of irresponsible food production practices.

There is simply no need to amend the state’s constitution to provide Mainers with the right to grow food that Question 3 proposes. The amendment is, at most, an empty gesture and will create regulatory uncertainty around food production, as decades of costly lawsuits play out.

Gina Garey

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