Phil Retberg leads his cows back to the pasture after the morning milking at his family's farm, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, in Penobscot, Maine. The Retbergs are proponents of a "right to food" bill that they say would be "an antidote to corporate control of our food supply," and a chance for rural communities to become self sufficient when it comes to what food they grow and eat. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

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Jennifer Poirier of Skowhegan represents District 107 in the Maine House of Representatives.

Every person in Maine should have the right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the foods that they choose. Without Question 3 amending the Maine Constitution, those rights are in jeopardy.

LD 95, “Resolution, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine to Establish a Right to Food,” passed both the House and Senate overwhelmingly with over two-thirds approval in both bodies.

Question 3 on the November ballot is a chance for each Maine voter to secure their right to food.

Without the passage of this referendum, Maine could face dire legislation similar to Initiative Petition 13 which is currently on the ballot in Oregon. That would ban common farming practices, including breeding and harvesting animals for meat. It would further limit hunting, fishing and trapping, making such activities a criminal offense.

Oregon is facing legislation that would have dire impacts on agriculture. We need to act now, before this type of legislation is upon our own doorstep

Maine is charting a different course though. We can be an example to the nation in food freedom. We can stand up and secure hunting, fishing and raising livestock for future generations. We have a long history of living off the land, and now we have a chance to make that tradition part of our enumerated rights in our state constitution.

State laws and local ordinances should not limit the ability of a person to grow the nourishment of their own choice. Each of us should have the right to harvest our own foods. Question 3 will secure our rights to decide to  grow and raise our own food. These are values that need to be protected.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all witnessed major disruptions to our food supply. We have seen the effects not only in Maine, but throughout the entire nation. The right to food would not only protect our right to grow and harvest our own foods, it will promote self-sustaining food practices and protect us from further government overreach.

The adoption of this constitutional amendment does not restrict or prevent the Department of Agriculture from oversight and regulation of commercial processing and distribution of foods. It does not place mandates on the government to provide free food. Question 3 protects the rights of every Mainer to decide the source and nutritional values of the foods that they consume.

As you fill out your absentee ballot, or prepare to cast your vote at the polls on Nov. 2, it is important to be informed of the potential impacts on our rights without this amendment to our Constitution.

I urge you to join me in this truly bipartisan effort to secure our natural, inherent and inalienable right to food. Please vote yes on Question 3.