2016 Bills

HJR2: A Constitutional Protection of the Right to Food

This bill was not considered by the legislature.

Libertas Institute supports this bill.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated, as its official opinion, that “There is no absolute right to consume… any particular food.” This statement, contained in a reply to a lawsuit filed against it by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, lays bare the thinking behind voluminous federal laws and regulations governing the production and sale of food, as exemplified in the contentious passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act a few years ago, which significantly expanded the regulatory reach of this federal agency.

Last month, we published a public policy brief establishing opposition to this claim, asserting that individuals do indeed have the right to grow and consume food, and that neighbors and consumers have the right to acquire food at a farm, free of burdensome regulations intended for—and properly applied only to—food meant to be acquired at restaurants or retail outlets where the consumer is totally unaware of the food’s source and safety.

Our brief contained two proposals, one of which was an amendment to Utah’s Constitution. House Joint Resolution 2, sponsored by Representative Marc Roberts, advances that proposal. (The other is House Bill 144.) It would require a 2/3 vote of both the House and Senate, and then a majority vote on the November ballot to be ratified. Similar amendments have recently been proposed in Virginia and Maine.

The proposal reads:

The individual right of the people to grow food for their own consumption or to acquire farm-produced food directly at the farm under an agreement with the farmer who produced it may not be infringed.

As a constitutionally protected right, this clause would prohibit the legislature or government agencies from limiting one’s consumption of homegrown food, or food obtained from a farmer through a direct sale by an informed consumer.