Vitelli local foods bill becomes law

Posted: July 06, 2018 | Senator Vitelli

AUGUSTA — A bill sponsored by Sen. Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, which promotes the purchase of local foods by Maine institutions became law without the governor’s signature earlier this week.

The new law sets aggressive goals in the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry for the purchase and sale of local foods.

“A strong local food economy has long supported Maine’s coastal and rural communities. By supporting our local fisheries and farms now, we are making long-term investments in the future of these vital industries,” said Sen. Vitelli. “I am so pleased to see this bill become law so local farms and fisheries can continue to power our state for generations to come.”

The amended version of the bill sets a goal of increasing purchases of locally produced food and food products by state institutions 20 percent no later than 2025. It does so by charging the commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to establish guidelines to assist state institutions in assessing their ability to purchase local foods while minimizing costs, providing education and outreach for the purpose of supporting farms, farmers’ markets, and community supported agriculture and seafood providers to increase the sale and purchase of local foods. It also will expand access to local foods and farmers markets to SNAP beneficiaries and increase the amount of locally produced food served on University of Maine campuses.

This new law — as with all public laws in Maine passed without an “emergency clause” — will take effect 90 days following the end of the legislative session. The Legislature is expected to return Monday, June 9 to continue the special session.