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Maine Just Voted To Become the Nation’s First ‘Right to Food’ State. What Does That Mean?

Backers say the amendment will let people produce food without government interference, but critics see problems for food safety, animal welfare and the environment.

Maine voters approved an amendment Tuesday that enshrines the “right to food” — the first of its kind in the United States.

The amendment to the state’s constitution declares that all people have a “natural, inherent and unalienable right” to grow, raise, produce and consume food of their own choosing as long as they do so within legal parameters.

It was approved on Tuesday by 60 percent of voters based on unofficial results, according to Ballotpedia. The measure had been approved by the state legislature in May.

Maine, a state with a bustling agricultural industry, has been at the forefront of the food sovereignty movement, which envisions a food system where producers also have control over how their goods are sold and distributed. The referendum was meant to ensure local communities have more agency over their food supply, Heather Retberg wrote in the Maine Citizen’s Guide to the Referendum Election. The livestock farmer and advocate was a driving force behind the amendment.