Farmer Maggie Writes to Maine’s Governor LePage and Commissioner Whitcomb

Quoting Maggie Robertson <maggiethefarmer@windstream.net>:

Dear Governor LePage and Mr. Whitcomb,

It is with great concern that I am reading about the lawsuit filed  by  the State of Maine against farmer Dan Brown of Blue Hill, Maine.

Farmers and consumers across the country are looking to the towns  of  Maine for hope and inspiration in a food system that is  designed to  favor large corporate agribusiness, centralized  processing and  distribution networks that provide lower quality  food and greater  risk of interruption and contamination,  accidental or intentional.   This embedded system of corporate  agriculture stacks the deck against  small family farmers who are  at risk of losing everything with one  difficult season.  The  Local Food and Community Self-Governance  ordinances passed by 5  towns in Maine have had a profound ripple  effect and spread hope  to many small farmers and concerned  communities across the country.

Even the Maine State Legislature recognized these ordinances as  good  for the people of Maine, when they passed the Joint  Resolution on  State Food Sovereignty.  Communities across the  country are excited  about what these towns have done, and the  confidence and support they  show for both their farmers and for  their residents.  Maine needs to  stand up and support the will of  the people in these communities who  have decided that they are  capable in making their own choices in  purchasing food.

Your own official state website states that:
http://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/index.php?topic=Gov_Cabinet&id=21322&v=article2011

“The Maine Department of Agriculture’s goals include expanding  Maine  agriculture by making the state a leader in innovative  approaches to  profitability, creating opportunities for Maine  citizens to succeed  in agriculture, ensure a safe, wholesome and  high quality food  supply, educate the public about the importance  of Maine agriculture,  promote the stewardship of Maine’s natural  resources, protect the  integrity of commercial and consumer  transactions, and foster a work  environment that encourages  teamwork, trust, creativity and  professional development.”

In looking at this statement piece by piece, we can see that the   Local Food and Community Self-Governance ordinances fulfill these   goals in an extraordinary way.

“Innovative approaches to profitability, creating opportunities  for  Maine citizens to succeed in agriculture”   By passing these   ordinances, these communities have taken an innovative approach  to  their local food system by giving their local farmers an  opportunity  to build their businesses without the cost- prohibitive special  facilities often needed to meet state  regulations.

“Safe, wholesome and high quality food supply”  When it comes to   safety and quality, the last thing a small farmer wants is to  make  her or his neighbors ill, and is more likely to be extra  vigilant in  how they produce their products.  A small farmer  cannot weather the  tarnished reputation that comes from a bad  product and has everything  to lose, not just profit, but also  their home, career and way of life.

“Educate the public about the importance of Maine agriculture”    What  better way to educate the public about Maine’s agriculture  than  direct transactions between those who produce the food and  those who  purchase it?  The general public does not learn about  agriculture by  buying mass-produced poor-quality food in a  grocery store, they learn  about agriculture, it’s glory and it’s  challenges, celebrations and  heartaches, through interacting  directly with farmers.

“Stewardship of Maine’s natural resources”  Farmers depend upon  their  land for their survival, and farmers who sell direct to  their  customers are more likely to hold their land close to their  hearts  and recognize how vital healthy soil is to healthy food.   They are  thoughtful and genuine when it comes to taking care of  their land.

“Protect the integrity of commercial and consumer transactions,  and  foster a work environment that encourages teamwork, trust,  creativity  and professional development.”  The Local Food and  Self-Governance  ordinances show producers that their communities  are supporting them  and trust them to make sound transactions of  quality goods.  Trust  coupled with self-reliance builds  communities that are resilient and  self-supporting.

Conversely, suing your own farmers certainly does not encourage   teamwork or trust, it stifles creativity and professional   development. It does nothing to protect integrity of transactions.

A state that turns against it’s own people, people who are  working  hard in providing for themselves and their neighbors,  cannot be  commended or admired.  It is time to withdraw the  lawsuit against Dan  Brown.  The towns that passed the Food  Security and Community Self- Governance ordinances have been very  clear in their actions to  protect and provide for food security  and should be commended to  taking steps to take care of their own.

You have an opportunity to be a shining example of promoting the   ability of ordinary people to stand on their own two feet, to  build  and govern their communities as they see fit, to be strong  and stand  with their neighbors, to be an example of the best our  country has to  offer.  Or you can be yet another example of  government turning on  it’s own people in the interests of the  corporate greed that  influences our government agriculture policy.

Please do the right thing.  Drop the lawsuit against Dan Brown,  and  instead proudly support him and all the family farmers of  Maine; they  are the backbone of Maine agriculture and the  foundation to strong  communities.

Sincerely,

Margaret K. Robertson
farmer
M&M Robertson Farms, LLC
614 Canoe Ripple Road
Sligo, PA  16255
(814) 358-2882
maggiethefarmer@windstream.net
http://www.gardensfromearth.com

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This entry was posted in Food Sovereignty, Local Food Ordinance, Similar Fights, We Are All Farmer Brown. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Farmer Maggie Writes to Maine’s Governor LePage and Commissioner Whitcomb

  1. Ingrid Scott says:

    Excellent letter! Right on, and well said.

  2. Dee Perry says:

    How can anyone argue with the eloquent comments made by Margaret?

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