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The Resilience Hub & Portland Maine Permaculture Message Board › LD 749 anti foraging anti people.

LD 749 anti foraging anti people.

David S.
Washington, ME
Post #: 929
I recently testified in front of the Maine Agriculture Conservation and Forestry Committee (been doing that a lot lately) about LD 749 http://www.mainelegis...­

This is the text of my testimony:

My name is David Spahr and I am the author of Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms of New England and Eastern Canada. I am a mushroom hunter, forager and forest farmer from Washington, Maine.

There was a time when Maine was known for what I like to call "cutting edge common sense", Obviously those days have passed. LD 749 does not pass the common sense test on any level so hopefully you will forgive me if my comments here are considerably more detailed than this bill.

Any organism means all organisms.

This bill is a head on collision with hunting and fishing laws.

We heard testimony on LD 421 where officer Marks said his property line is the middle of the Eastern River. That means if you go fishing by boat past his property and catch a fish organism, you need written permission from him to take that organism home.

That means if you shoot a deer organism and it runs onto the property of another, you need written permission to remove that deer. That property owner could even assert that the deer is his. If that property owner is not home, or lives in Florida, you have a serious problem.

That means that if law enforcement catches a person removing marijuana from the property of another, according to the restitution clause, that person will pay the landowner "fair market value" for that marijuana organism. That does solve a marketing problem I guess.

This bill is in direct conflict with the public trust doctrine that has been on the books for 400 years that allows public access to great ponds, rivers and streams and ocean uses. It takes basic public rights away from all Mainers. These rights have been affirmed by the US Supreme Court and expanded by most states including Maine. This bill hurts the income of clammers, worm diggers, seaweed gatherers, and fisherman. It will have disastrous effects on Maine's economy by curtailing hunting, fishing, and foraging everywhere.

I am a land owner. I own 95 acres where I let people snowmobile, ski, walk, and hunt. If people pick berries or mushrooms I'm really not too concerned. I don't want people lining up at my door for permission slips.

Mushrooms, fiddleheads and berries are only ready to pick for a period of a few hours or days. When they are ready they are ready. If they are ready and the landowner you may have already gotten verbal permission from is not available to sign a paper, you would be out of luck. That hurts a pickers income and the income of the broker that buys them. If the broker goes out of business every picker has a problem. That hurts our economy and those folks that are picking because they need the work, income, and food to subsist. Jobs are thin. If they can't forage effectively maybe they will go on state assistance. This is anti-business.

I always ask if I can pick mushrooms or forage on private land. I find it entertaining. Most folks say "Sure, no problem, any time". I can't remember the last time someone turned me down. I often ask if I can pick some mushrooms for them and they almost always decline and I get the idea that some think they may never see me again. I believe most pickers ask wherever possible.

I asked a woman recently if I could go on her land and possibly harvest polypores. She invited me in for coffee and snacks. She did say that she wants people to ask and as long as they do that's fine. She said she was not interested in having people lining up at her door all the time for written permission. She also noted that it seems a shame to let good food resources go to waste.

The human race would not exist were it not for foraging. Foraging is built into our DNA.

It’s not even clear what the bill really does that current laws can't cover. We have private property laws. §353. Theft by unauthorized taking or transfer says:

1. A person is guilty of theft if:
A. The person obtains or exercises unauthorized control over the property of another with intent to deprive the other person of the property. Violation of this paragraph is a Class E crime. Same penalties.

Frankly it’s hard for me to imagine how this can possibly be approved by a responsible Legislature. This extra layer of regulation is unnecessary.

We voters endure dreary political rhetoric about lower taxes, less government, fewer regulations and pro-business. This bill does none of this. Where the rubber meets the road we get more laws, more regulations, more tax money spent, and a damaged economy.

Is there a single person in this room who has not walked a country road, a woodland path, or through the woods and not eaten a few wild berries and enjoyed it? If a game warden jumped out of the bushes and arrested you would that have been better? You should be profoundly embarrassed to support this bill.

This bill punishes the people that are respectful and ask permission. The people that take probably won't get caught.

In testimony on LD 421 (balsam, fiddlehead, mushrooms bill) we heard from SWOAM and the Maine Forest Service. Neither could cite a single complaint about foragers.

Once again, what we have here is a solution seeking a problem.
A former member
Post #: 105
I wish to express my profound gratitude for your intelligent,articulate, and passionate battle against the repressive agenda that increasingly robs us of our autonomy and the rights and freedoms upon which this nation was founded. This bill and others like it may seem trivial to some, but taken together, all these "trivialities" add up to an increasing treacherous attack on our right of self-expression and self-determination.
David S.
Washington, ME
Post #: 930

Thank you very much. It's easy to talk about national politics, big oil, big ag, etc. and weigh in with an opinion. Mostly it ends up being a lot of talk though and mostly it is preaching to the choir.

What I care about is where the rubber meets the road right here in Maine. It's not good enough to vote and elect your representatives and hope they will do the right thing. When people get to Augusta, often something else happens. When bills come up to vote in committee, these people have so many bills to look at they don't have time to review them or think deeply about what they mean and what the unintended consequences may be. You can get more done on the local level where it counts to our everyday lives by keeping track of bills as they come up for vote. You have to be right there to put their feet to the fire.

David S.
Washington, ME
Post #: 931
I may have already posted my testimony previously on food sovereignty but here it is again.

I testified before the Agriculture Conservation and Forestry Committee on food sovereignty. I said the following:

Maine people should have the right to define their own food systems.

It's easy to become wary of food security. We have, as a nation, bought in to the “corporate food regime” at the expense of the Maine farmers, the people of Maine and the Maine economy. If corporate farming should fail we all fail. Such highly concentrated distribution of economic power means that they can run up the price of food as they choose just like the fossil fuel industry does.

Big agriculture may be producing more food but it has not managed to reduce hunger because it has not addressed the problems of access.

According to the USDA (for Maine)
• Food insecurity rate: 14.7 percent of households, or approximately 200,000 people
• Maine ranks 18th in the nation and 2nd in New England in terms of food insecurity
• Child food insecurity rate: 23 percent, or nearly 1 in every 4 children, are food insecure (61,020 children)
• Maine ranks 22nd in the nation, 1st in New England in terms of child food insecurity
• Since 2004 there has been a 50 percent increase in the number of Mainers facing hunger

Big agriculture often poisons people. You see it on the news all the time. Bad hamburger, bad salad greens, bad peanuts and other products.

The small farmers are paying for the problems big agriculture often creates with more regulation leading to higher expenses.

If small farmers did not have to follow all the rules imposed by the failures and political influence of big agriculture they could deliver better products at a better price on the local level where lower income people could more easily access and afford them.

Family farms rely on personal accountability. The buck stops there. They know they can and should produce a fresher higher quality product. Their business and reputation relies on it. You can't buy food produced or picked the same day at the supermarket. Anybody knows that a tomato fresh off the farm is far better than any tomato you can buy at the supermarket.

We should allow local communities to produce, process, sell, purchase and consume local foods.

We should ensure the preservation of family farms.

It would certainly enhance the economic, environmental and social wealth of Maine's local communities.

Eating Maine food means you will be far less likely to consume GMOs. Although Monsanto and big agriculture may say GMOs are just fine, GMOs have not co-evolved with people or the environment and may, in fact, damage the ecological web in unintended ways.

If we can choose to ignore federal marijuana laws, we can choose to ignore federal food laws. In spite of what some may think, food is more important than marijuana. Access to good local food at a fair price is good for Maine and the Maine economy.
user 6217608
Parsonsfield, ME
Post #: 53
Thanks David for your keen Awarenes and diligence with this matter. Anytime you see some issues coming up please inform the group as I'm certain that many of us . we would like to carpool to Augusta along with you. Maybe advisable to form a political branch in the permaculture community that can be on top of the nasties that go on up in Augusta
user 6217608
Parsonsfield, ME
Post #: 54
Dennis said: As you noticed, I capitalized the title "STATE OF MAINE." Whenever you capitalize all the letters in a name, you are referring to a CORPORATION.

I need to correct what Dennis said about the State of Maine because I hate misinformation being bandied about as truth. That is a favorite tactic of the extreme right.
Just because an entity is listed in Dun & Bradstreet does NOT mean it is a corporation traded on the open market. There are many state and local governmental agencies and non-profits listed in Dun & Bradstreet that are NOT publicly traded. A Dun & Bradstreet listing is a way of checking credit ratings because even non-profits like public libraries and state governments have to purchase things from various sources. I have long been associated with a public library -- a private, not for profit 501(c)(3) entity and it is listed in Dun & Bradstreet. It is NOT publicly traded. Lyn
Lisa F.
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 2,300
Who's Dennis? Did someone delete their replies?
Greg M.
user 3541854
Acton, ME
Post #: 494
Dennis gave and took away!!! Mysterious! Must have had second thoughts.
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