PORTLAND (WGME)-- Do Mainers have the "right to food?"
It's a question voters will decide this November.
But its wording is leading to more questions than answers. CBS13 received a lot of calls asking about what Question 3 would do.
"Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to declare that all individuals have a natural, inherent and unalienable right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and well-being?"
Supporters say it's important to have this in writing, while opponents say it's too vague.
Representative Billy Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor) argues the constitutional amendment would help with food security, making sure people can grow and raise their own food in a state where about 90 percent of food is imported.
“We think that strengthening that right for people to grow and raise their own food will give us more secure food systems,” Faulkingham said.
The concern is less about current laws, but what could change in the future.
“They may be taken for granted right now, our rights, but we want to make sure future generations have the right to produce their own food,” Faulkingham said.
Some aren't necessarily opposed to the root of the question, but its language.
“Is it intending to say you can now have a cow in downtown Portland and the city can't create an ordinance forbidding that?” Maine Farm Bureau Association Executive Director Julie Ann Smith said.
Smith says it feels like a solution in search of a problem.
“We're deeply concerned by just the vagueness of it and we feel that it would put current statutes into question,” Smith said.
State documents don't address that, and some worry its unclear language could lead to animal welfare concerns.
“People could basically say they could do whatever they want with farm animals and say it's their constitutional right,” Animal Wellness Action Maine State Director Gina Garey said.
The constitution article would say the right to food exists as long as people don't trespass, steal, poach or commit other abuses of private property rights, public lands or natural resources in the process, but it doesn't go into specifics.
"That's a risk that Maine should not take given our great reputation for animal welfare,” Garey said.
There have been two other versions of the bill that led to the ballot question, including one attempt in 2015. It received widespread support last time, but didn't make it through a pandemic stop to the legislative session.
You can read the Maine Citizen’s Guide to the Referendum Election here.