Benton County, OR Moves Forward with Nation’s Potential First Food Bill of Rights

by: Posted on: August 08, 2013

Introduction by Dana Allen: Since the pre petition of the Sustainable Food System Ordinance of Benton County was filed by the three chief petitioners, Dana Allen, Clint Lindsey, and Harry MacCormack on June 5th (announcement below), the Benton County Clerk filed a motion that the petition did not meet the single subject rule that is required for all initiatives filed in Oregon. This is the same hurdle we faced with our first filing of A Food Bill of Rights in October of 2012, which was found to not meet the single subject rule because three of the rights asserted in that ordinance were too broad and not specific enough to a sustainable food system. The specific issues identified by the court were addressed in the redrafting of the Ordinance filed on June 5. We are optimistic that the new ordinance will fulfill the single subject requirement. All of the appeals and briefs have been filed and the court hearing is scheduled for Sept. 13th with the same judge that heard the case Feb 2013.


Group Re-Files Petition to Protect Local Food System

(June, 5 3013.) This afternoon members of What’s In Our Future Benton County resubmitted a sustainable food system ordinance to the Benton County Clerk for approval to circulate a petition to residents. The group submitted a similar version of the ordinance back in October of 2012. Based on the judge’s findings in February, the group has made the necessary corrections to meet the single subject requirement for a local citizens’ initiative.

The Sustainable Food System Ordinance of Benton County establishes a right to a sustainable food system, seed heritage, clean air, water and soil for sustainable agriculture in Benton County, and prohibits unsustainable practices – like the planting of GMO’s – that would violate those rights.

The issue of corporate led agriculture and the threat to rural communities and family farmers in Oregon is not new. Recent events, including the ODA’s decision to expand canola production in the Willamette Valley at the expense of the local specialty seed industry, SB 633 – aimed at completely eliminating any local control of agricultural seed, and the introduction of unauthorized GMO wheat in eastern Oregon – threatening multi-million dollar grain contracts, have made it clear that deep change is needed in order to protect the local farm and food system.

“It’s time that we reclaim what has always been rightfully ours, that is our right to grow and produce food in a manner that protects the health and safety of this county and strengthens our local economy,” says Clint Lindsey, farmer and chief petitioner of What’s In Our Future Benton County. “Big agribusiness has one goal in mind, that is to control the entire food system no matter the cost to people and the environment, nor how indentured farmers and the public become to that corporate system. We cannot afford to wait for the federal and state governments to save us. In fact they have been more than happy to authorize and protect the corporate assaults to our local farm and food systems.”


The group is aiming to gather the needed signatures to qualify for the May 2014 ballot.

To volunteer and find out more information visit


Photo: Bruce Bittle

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