Farm Aid

Maine Town Passes Landmark Local Food Ordinance

Residents of Sedgwick, Maine have unanimously voted to adopt a Local Food and Self-Governance Ordinance, setting a precedent for other towns looking to preserve small-scale farming and food processing. Sedgwick is the first town in the state, and perhaps the nation, to exempt direct farm sales from state and federal licensing and inspection. The ordinance also exempts foods made in the home kitchen, similar to the Michigan Cottage Food Law passed last year, but without caps on gross sales or restrictions on types of exempt foods.

Local farmer Bob St. Peter explains: “This ordinance creates favorable conditions for beginning farmers and cottage-scale food processors to try out new products, and to make the most of each season’s bounty.”

St. Peter, who serves on the board of the National Family Farm Coalition (, based in Washington, D.C., sees this as a model ordinance for rural economic development. “It’s tough making a go of it in rural America,” he continues. “Rural working people have always had to do a little of this and a little of that to make ends meet. But up until the last couple generations, we didn’t need a special license or new facility each time we wanted to sell something to our neighbors.” As a result, “Small farmers and producers have been getting squeezed out in the name of food safety, yet it’s the industrial food that is causing food-borne illness, not us."

Read the Local Food and Self-Governance Ordinance at

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