Quoting Maggie Robertson <firstname.lastname@example.org>:
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:
“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.