Kennedy talks farms and food in Freeport, with campaign staff ready to launch Maine campaign

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. warned of the dangers of large food corporations and bemoaned the loss of family farms Tuesday in a room full of supporters and farmers in Freeport. Although he has yet to officially get a spot on the Maine ballot in November -- he has until Aug.

1 to turn in 4,000 signatures -- campaign staff said they've been gathering signatures and organizing volunteers to start knocking on doors this Saturday. The Tuesday event drew more than 200 people, some of whom said they felt a connection to Kennedy unlike other national politicians. "I feel like you are talking to me tonight," said Holly Arbuckle, a Newcastle farmer. "I just want to thank you from a really emotional place to feel so connected to somebody.

I don't know a single person that's voting for Biden because they really are excited about him." During the 90-minute event, Kennedy didn't mention Democrat Joe Biden or Republican Donald Trump by name. Instead, he described his work as an environmental attorney who has sued major corporations that polluted rivers and farmland.

He also criticized the U.S. Department of Agriculture, accusing it of favoring large corporations that produce unhealthy food. "They give us poison, processed, addictive foods," he said. "It's mass poisoning us, killing us, making us the sickest population in the world and doing everything they can to destroy small farmers in this country."

He said Maine is doing better than most states to support farmers, particularly those affected by PFAS chemicals that were spread on farm fields decades ago. Kennedy also took a moment to recognize Dr. Meryl Nass, who was in the audience, calling her a friend.

The Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine suspended Nass' license in 2022, finding that she violated many board rules while treating patients who had COVID-19, including prescribing the antiparasitic drug ivermectin, according to the Maine Monitor. Kennedy founded the group Children's Health Defense, which raises questions about the safety of routine childhood vaccinations.

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And although he recognized Nass in the audience, which prompted many to stand and clap for her, he did not discuss vaccines on Tuesday. Instead, he focused on childhood obesity, allergies and autoimmune disorders that he believes are caused by cheap mass-produced food.

"We have the worst health of any country in the world, the worst food of any country in the world, we are £34 trillion in debt and we're destroying small businesses," he said. Kennedy also explained his plan to legalize marijuana at the federal level and tax it, which he said would generate £8.5 billion a year. He said he would use that money to create "healing farms" where teens could work, recover from addiction and learn skills in the trades that will lead to good jobs.

A lifelong Democrat, Kennedy launched his campaign for president in April 2023 to challenge Biden. But in October, he dropped out of the Democratic primary to run as an independent. He is the son of former U.S.

Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of former President John F. Kennedy.

As of Friday, Kennedy is on the ballot in 10 states, has submitted signatures in 12 states and has gathered enough to get on the ballot in five states, according to his press office. Kennedy did not participate in last month's debate between Trump and Biden because he did not meet the minimums set by CNN. The network required him to get at least 15% support in four national polls and confirmed ballot access in enough states to win the electoral college.

Supporter Lori Thayer, 65, of Brunswick, said after Tuesday's event that she's ready to join others in spreading the word about Kennedy's candidacy.

"To have more and more people become aware of what an amazing person he is and how many brilliant, solid thoughtful ideas he has for making society better," she said.