BROOKSVILLE, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- Deborah Evans has been around farming her entire life. She owns Bagaduce Farm in Brooksville, where she produces items such as caramels and lard. But until recently, she wasn't allowed to share her products with consumers because her food wasn't regulated by the state; a luxury her small farm could not afford.
Last week, that all changed. In a 112-64 vote, Deborah's town of Brooksville passed a food sovereignty ordinance that allows small farms to sell their products direct to consumers without the farm having to meet state regulation standards.
No regulation does not mean poor quality food. In fact, Deborah believes customers know that small local farms provide a better product than big corporations do, regardless of regulation.
"Quality and integrity are two things that exist within our small communities, within our small farms, and they know that quality and integrity never show up in the discussion at the industrial level," she said.
But some Brooksville farmers do not believe unregulated food in the market place is a good idea. Robert Bowen owns Sunset acre farms, and he says state regulators have been an asset to his business.
"We've had instances where they've actually found issues here at the farm that we've had to correct, some of which we'd have never known if the state hadn't been here to do it," he said.
And Brooksville isn't the only town to pass this ordinance. There are eight others, and state legislators have noticed. Representative Ralph Chapman of Brooksville says there are several bills in the works that will allow food sovereignty rules to be applied statewide.
Until state legislation passes, it is state law that all food must be regulated before it is distributed to consumers, but Brooksville is paving the way for all farmers, regulated or unregulated, to sell be able to sell their goods.