Questions 1 and 3 on the November 2, 2021 Maine ballot are of interest to MOFGA’s mission and advocacy work to create a food system that is healthy and fair for all of us. In this post we invite you to learn more about these issues and MOFGA’s stance.
Question 1 — CMP Corridor
The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) endorses the Yes on 1 Campaign to stop the Central Maine Power (CMP) Corridor project, also known as the New England Clean Energy Connect, and urges members to vote Yes on 1.
CMP seeks to deliver Canadian hydropower to Massachusetts via powerlines that would run 145 miles from the western Maine-Canada border near Beattie Township to Lewiston, where power would then flow to the energy grid through a new converter station. CMP also is considering installing additional lines on its existing infrastructure on a corridor in the Midcoast between Windsor and Woolwich. This project would not provide energy to Maine residents or businesses. Maine should not be an extension cord for Massachusetts.
We believe that this project will do irreparable harm to Maine’s environment, will not benefit Maine’s people or economy, and will detract from Maine’s essential Climate Action Plan. The Corridor would damage important wildlife habitat in 263 wetlands, crossing 200 rivers and streams in North America’s largest contiguous temperate forest.
This project is also illegal. CMP violated the Maine Constitution and state law by obtaining an illegal lease to cross public lands without a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. A State Superior Court Judge has terminated CMP’s lease which puts the corridor’s future in jeopardy.
The corridor could suppress the growth of in-state renewable energy by potentially clogging up Maine’s power grid and preventing local renewable energy projects from exporting their energy. It also would jeopardize established and new guiding and tourism industries in rural communities adjacent to the transmission line.
Megadam projects like Hydro-Quebec’s are not solutions to the climate crisis or other environmental problems. Dams degrade water quality, slowing the flow of water, blocking fish, sediment and nutrients. They displace people, are expensive, can lead to flooding and erosion, and can increase diseases in humans. When we consider the ecological impacts of the proposed corridor, we have to think about the source of the power that would flow through the corridor.
MOFGA has great concerns about the adverse impacts of HydroQuebec’s mega dams on the Indigenous communities that have depended on the balance of the natural ecosystems for thousands of years. Hydro-Quebec has resettled thousands of First Nation communities and devastated their traditional fishing and hunting grounds.
- Vote Early — You can vote by mail and you can vote early, in person. Details.
- Get Involved — Yes on 1 has volunteer opportunities. Details.
- Learn More — Editors of the Bangor Daily News will host a lively debate on October 13 at 6 p.m. with panelists from Yes on 1 and No on 1. Register here to watch.
Question 3 — Right to Food
The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) endorses the Right to Food for Maine Campaign and Question 3 on the ballot for this upcoming election. MOFGA envisions a future of healthy ecosystems, communities, people and economies sustained by the practices of organic agriculture. This is a vision of an agriculture that generates the vast majority of the state’s food supply with locally, organically grown produce.
Maine is almost entirely reliant on food from away — currently importing 92% of its food supply — though we have the natural resources including landbase, soils, water, flora, fauna, climate and knowledge to be self-sufficient and enjoy a healthy, diverse, balanced and delicious diet.
MOFGA’s membership is comprised of farmers, gardeners and consumers who share a goal of ensuring that Maine families, regardless of income and location, have access to local, organic food. In order to achieve a goal of healthy food access for all, Maine needs to ensure that policy incentives, and some safety nets, are in place at local, county, state, federal and, increasingly, international levels.
Question 3 establishes that all individuals have a natural, inherent and unalienable right to food, including the right to save and exchange seeds and the right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and wellbeing, as long as an individual does not commit trespassing, theft, poaching or other abuses of private property rights, public lands or natural resources in the harvesting, production or acquisition of food. This is an antidote to corporate control of our food supply and how communities interact. It shifts power from corporations to individual citizens.
An enumerated right is to protect individual liberty — which is not a provision from the government. The proposed amendment carefully constructs a human rights framework that secures the individual rights of the people while cautiously guarding against abuse. It becomes a metric and a standard to inform and guide policy priorities and lawmaking; it increases Maine food resilience and supports Maine food self-sufficiency; and decentralizes food production and decision-making to create a more secure food system. Here are some some details:
- Private property rights, including seed patents, are protected.
- The right to food will not limit or constrain other rights.
- Department oversight of food processing and commerce is protected.
- The right to food does not mean society must provide food for certain groups of people.
The United States Constitution should have such an amendment. But, as with many other bold initiatives, it is fitting that Maine leads the discussion. 73% of the Maine House and 70% of the Maine Senate voted to bring the Right to Food question to the ballot box this November.