David R. Henderson  

Tort Reform, Grassroots Style

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Citing America's Declaration of Independence and the Maine Constitution, the ordinance proposed that "Sedgwick citizens possess the right to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing." These would include raw milk and other dairy products and locally slaughtered meats, among other items.

This isn't just a declaration of preference. The proposed warrant added, "It shall be unlawful for any law or regulation adopted by the state or federal government to interfere with the rights recognized by this Ordinance." In other words, no state licensing requirements prohibiting certain farms from selling dairy products or producing their own chickens for sale to other citizens in the town.


This is from "Here's a Way to Eliminate the Regulators and Lawyers, and Build Community At the Same Time: Organize and Declare 'Food Sovereignty,' Like Sedgwick, Maine." The ordinance passed.

Commenter Patrick on the above link does point out an unfortunate reality:

It's admirable that a community is making a statement like this (one that will undoubtedly be heard at the state level, particularly if other communities follow suit), but any raw milk producer or local butcher who attempts to rely on the ordinance as a legal defense to regulatory action or a criminal or civil suit would be in for an unpleasant surprise.

But that doesn't mean that their action is futile. My impression is that if you want the state government or the federal government to listen, you can't just meekly petition: you need to take actions like those of the good citizens of Sedgwick. This is likely the first round in a many-round fight.

HT to Thomas Woods.


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CATEGORIES: Regulation



COMMENTS (5 to date)
joecushing writes:

I don't understand how we got to the point where we outlaw food. Food lableing, I understand but not outlawing.

I'd like to try mozzarella. From what I understand, most of us have only had fake mozzarella.

mobile writes:

Agree that its not futile. If 50 towns passed the same ordinance, it would be a short step to a repeal of a lot of burdensome state laws.

Colin K writes:

I'd like to think this is a gateway drug for libertarianism in general, but that's probably expecting way too much rationality. Europe allows all sorts of food products that are illegal here while we allow most citizens to buy handguns. Whether the right to buy a Colt or proper Camembert means more depends on which Paris you live in--Texas or France.

David writes:
"Patrons purchasing food for home consumption may enter into private agreements with those producers or processors of local foods to waive any liability for the consumption of that food. Producers or processors of local foods shall be exempt from licensure and inspection requirements for that food as long as those agreements are in effect."
This is the part that will get everyone worked up, though it seems easy enough to resolve for two reasons:

1) There is every incentive to label whether certain products are "raw", "local", "natural," "organic" or whatever other hippie jargon they use because people actually pay more for that.

2) When you go to the supermarket, you don't have to sign a waiver to buy eggs and milk. If you suddenly have to do that when you buy the raw goods, even in a contract of adhesion, you're probably not going to be too caught off guard since you had to sign a waiver when you bought food.

And that's your assumption of risk, which should hold up.

Jehu writes:

If the locals are determined to use wholesale jury nullification and related measures such as ostracizing anyone who attempts to drag in the fed against any enforcements by the federal government they can probably win if they've got the will.

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