AUGUSTA, Maine — More than 13,000 grow their own food and raise their own farm animals, according to Maine Farmland Trust. Currently, they do so without any problem from the state government.
"It's not illegal now, but it could be," state representative Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winterharbor
State legislators want to prevent that from ever happening.
"All it would take is legislation to make it illegal whereas a constitutional amendment would protect the rights that we have now, and we want to protect those rights," Faulkingham added.
"I can't imagine why anyone would think we should not have the right to obtain any food that we wish," state senator Craig Hickman said.
Hickman is a farmer in addition to a senator. He sponsored the right to food bill in the 127th legislature and the 129th legislature. It didn't pass either time.
This year in the 130th legislature, Faulkingham gave it a shot and the Maine house and senate passed it by a two-thirds majority.
Now, it goes to the ballot for Maine people to vote on in November.
"This informs the judicial system that this is a right to the people," Faulkingham said.
"It's a foundational principle that gives people legal standing," Hickman added.
If Mainers vote for it to pass, no legislator would be allowed to introduce a bill that prevents people from growing and eating their own food.
People who oppose this bill have a few main concerns. They're worried that people will try to grow food or raise animals in small spaces that could intrude on other people's properties.
The bill says private buildings, homeowners' associations, and towns and cities can all create their own rules around this.
If the amendment is ratified by voters, Maine would become the first state in the country to have the right to food in its constitution.