AN ORDINANCE TO PROTECT THE HEALTH AND INTEGRITY OF THE LOCAL FOOD SYSTEM IN THE COUNTY OF MENDOCINO, CALIFORNIA [DRAFT]
Section 1. Name. This Ordinance shall be known and may be cited as the “Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance #______, 2011.”
Section 2. Definitions.
As used in this ordinance:
a) “Patron” means an individual who purchases any product or preparation directly from a processor or producer and who does not resell the product or preparation.
b) “Home consumption” means consumed within a private home or personally by patron.
c) “Local Foods” means any food or food product that is grown, produced, or processed by individuals who sell directly to their patrons through farm-based sales, roadside stands or buying clubs.
d) “Processor” means any individual who processes or prepares products of the soil or animals for food or drink.
e) “Producer” means any farmer or gardener who grows any plant or animal for food or drink.
Section 3, Preamble and Purpose. We the People of the County of Mendocino, California, have the right to produce, process, sell, purchase and consume local foods, thus promoting self-reliance, the preservation of family farms and local food traditions. We recognize that family farms, sustainable agricultural practices and food processing by individuals, families and small, locally-owned businesses offers stability to our rural way of life by enhancing the economic, environmental and social wealth of our community. As such, our right to a local food system requires us to assert our inherent right to self-government. We recognize the authority to protect that right as belonging to the County of Mendocino.
We recognize our individual rights and individual responsibilities. We have faith in our citizens’ ability to educate themselves and make informed decisions. We hold that federal and state regulations impede local food production and constitute a usurpation of our citizens’ right to foods of their choice. We support food that fundamentally respects human dignity and health, nourishes individuals and the community and sustains producers, processors and the environment. We are therefore duty bound under the Constitution of the State of California to protect and promote unimpeded access to local foods.
The purpose of the Local Food and Community Self-Governing Ordinance is to:
1. Provide citizens with unimpeded access to local food;
2. Enhance the local economy by promoting the production and purchase of local agricultural products;
3. Protect access farm based sales and direct producer to patron sales;
4. Support the economic viability of local food producers and processors;
5. Preserve local knowledge and traditional food ways.
Section 4. Authority. This Ordinance is adopted and enacted pursuant to the inherent, inalienable and fundamental right of the citizens of the County to self government, and under the authority recognized as belonging to the people of Mendocino County by all relevant state and federal laws including, but not limited to the following:
The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, which declares that governments are instituted to secure peoples’ rights, and that government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed.
The California Constitution, which recognizes that “all political power is inherent in the people” (California Constitution Article II, Section 1) and that grants counties and cities all powers necessary to protect the public health, safety, and welfare (California Constitution, Article XI, Section 7) and Article 1 Section 9 which states in the Declaration of Rights: A bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts may not be passed.
Section 5. Statements of Law.
Section 5.1. Right to Access and Produce Food. Mendocino County citizens possess the right to produce, process, sell, purchase and consume local foods of their choosing.
Section 5.1a Right to Ownership: Mendocino County citizens have the right to own livestock animals in whole or in part.
Section 5.1b. Right to Contract for Care and Production: All residents have the right to contract with any person to provide housing and care for animals that they own in whole or in part, including activities such as milking or shearing to provide products from such animals.
Section 5.1c. Right to the Products: All residents have the right to contract with any person to package and deliver the products, including dairy products, derived from animals that such residents own in whole or in part for the owner’s personal consumption or other personal use.
Section 5.2. Licensure/Inspection Exemption. Producers or processors of local foods in the County of Mendocino are exempt from licensure and inspection provided that the transaction is only between the producer or processor and a patron when the food is sold for home consumption. This includes any producer or processor who sells his or her products at roadside farm stands; sells his or her products through farm-based sales directly to a patron; or delivers his or her products directly to patrons.
Section 5.3. Right to Private Association in Production and Consumption of Food. Mendocino County citizens have the right to enter into private associations for the production, sharing and purchase of food of all sorts, including “herdshare” and “dairyshare” arrangements. These private associations shall not be subject to regulations designed by state and federal legislatures for public commerce.
Section 5.4. Right to Self-Governance. All citizens of Mendocino County possess the right to a form of governance which recognizes that all power is inherent in the people, that all free governments are founded on the people’s authority and consent.
Section 5.5. Right to Enforce. Mendocino County citizens possess the right to adopt measures which prevent the violation of the rights enumerated in this Ordinance. The Sheriff, being the supreme law enforcement official in the county, is hereby obligated to enforce this statement of law protecting the rights of the citizens of Mendocino County against outside agencies or corporations.
Section 6. Statement of Law, Implementation. The following restrictions and provisions serve to implement the preceding statements of law.
Section 6.1 State and Federal Law. It shall be unlawful for any law or regulation adopted by the state or federal government to interfere with the rights recognized by this Ordinance. It shall be unlawful for any corporation to interfere with the rights recognized by this Ordinance. The term “corporation” shall mean any business entity organized under the laws of any state or country.
Section 6.2. Patron Liability Protection. Patrons purchasing food for home consumption may enter into private agreements with those producers or processors of local foods to waive any liability for the consumption of that food. Producers or processors of local foods shall be exempt from licensure and inspection requirements for that food as long as those agreements are in effect.
Section 7. Civil Enforcement. The County of Mendocino may enforce the provisions of this Ordinance through seeking equitable relief from a court of competent jurisdiction. Any individual citizen of the County of Mendocino shall have standing to vindicate any rights secured by this ordinance which have been violated or which are threatened with violation, and may seek relief both in the form of injunctive and compensatory relief from a court of competent jurisdiction.
Section 8. County Action against Preemption. The foundation for making and adoption of this law is the peoples’ fundamental and inalienable right to govern themselves, and thereby secure their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Any attempt to use other units and levels of government to preempt, amend, alter or overturn this Ordinance or parts of this Ordinance shall require the County to hold public meetings that explore the adoption of other measures that expand local control and the ability of citizens to protect their fundamental and inalienable right to self-government. It is declared that those other measures may legitimately include the partial or complete separation of the County from the other units and levels of government that attempt to preempt, amend, alter, or overturn this Ordinance.
Section 9. Effect. This Ordinance shall be effective immediately upon its enactment.
Section 10. Severability Clause. To the extent any provision of this Ordinance is deemed invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, such provision will be removed from the Ordinance, and the balance of the Ordinance shall remain valid.
Section 11. Repealer. All inconsistent provisions of prior Ordinance adopted by the County of Mendocino are hereby repealed, but only to the extent necessary to remedy the inconsistency.