LePage calls for emergency legislative session after feds balk at Maine food sovereignty law
Gov. Paul LePage has told legislative leaders that he will call an emergency legislative session to amend a food sovereignty bill that the federal government has criticized as unlawful.
A separate issue LePage says needs fixing during a special session is a funding snafu involving the Maine Office of Geographic Information System, which was identified in early August.
The food sovereignty bill, LD 725, proposed by Senate Minority Leader Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, received strong support in the Legislature and was signed into law by LePage in June. It allows municipalities to regulate local food systems, including production, processing, consumption and direct producer-to-consumer exchanges, which are currently regulated at the state and federal levels.
The law, which is the first of its kind in the country, will take effect Nov. 1, but LePage said in an Aug. 29 letter to lawmakers that it needs to be amended immediately. Specifically, he wrote that meat and poultry must be excluded from the bill so that state officials can continue to regulate those products.
The Maine Meat and Poultry Inspection program operates by permission of the federal government, but only as long as the federal Department of Agriculture maintains statewide jurisdiction, according to LePage. The USDA has threatened to put Maine into “designation status” for federal inspections unless changes are made to the law.
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