Food Foraging Vs. Private Property: New at Reason

ForagingThe right to exclude others from one's property is a fundamental feature of property ownership and a central concept within property law. You'd think laws about foraging on private land would embrace this common-sense thinking. But it doesn't always. And the issue isn't as cut-and-dried as many might think, as a current controversy makes clear.

In Maine, a proposed law would require foragers—those looking to harvest blueberries, mushrooms, and other wild foods—to obtain permission from the property owner before collecting the food.

The bill, An Act To Prohibit Foraging on Private Land without Permission, would amend an existing law that serves primarily to prohibit people from going onto private property to chop down and transport Christmas trees. Under the proposed law, three convictions in a 10-year period would brand the violator a felon. Food policy writer Baylen Linnekin, himself a forager, explains the complications.

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