Judge Michael Cuzzo, Cook County District Court, issued a ruling (Lake View Dairy Order June 3, 2015) concerning the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) attempting to hold Lake View Natural Dairy (LVND) owner David Berglund in contempt of court for refusing a Court issued Inspection Order that would lead to costly regulations imposed by the MDA. Those regulations would likely put LVND out of business. The Court has DENIED the MDA’s request to hold Berglund in contempt!
LVND’s attorney (Zenas Baer) has argued that the MDA does not have the authority to force inspection or regulation on LVND because they are a private farm that only sells directly to informed private men and women (The MDA’s Petition and the Dairy Farms Answer). State statute specifically states that it only applies to Grade A and Grade B dairies, which does not apply to a “regular old dairy farm” that is privately owned and does not enter into any commercial relations to sell it’s dairy or other products to other commercial entities. LVND has never incorporated or applied for a business listing with the state. They are no different from local private farmers/gardeners that grow extra potatoes or collect extra eggs that they wish to sell directly to their neighbors. Yet the MDA continues to attempt to impose improper statute on LVND, creating a Due Process nightmare for the MDA. The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution contain a ‘due process clause‘. Due process deals with the administration of justice and thus the due process clause acts as a safeguard from arbitrary denial of life, liberty, or property by the Government outside the sanction of law.
The court has again placed the inspection order on hold, until the arguments are heard and there is a final ruling. On June 23rd, the court will be scheduling a time table for attorneys to enter constitutional arguments in writing and then an evidentiary hearing to be held presumably at the Cook County Court House. I have no way of knowing when that hearing will take place (maybe end of July or in August?), but I will be posting that information when it is available. We will again need public support to be present upon that TBA date. This is our opportunity, yet again, to voice our support with our presence.
The likelihood of this court case making it’s way through multiple levels of the court and ultimately landing within the jurisdiction of the MN Supreme Court are quite high. This is a costly proposition and this costly weight has been born by Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund who should be thanked for funding this fight. Please consider also donating to the Lake View Natural Dairy – Fund (hosted by Organic Consumers Association out of Finland, MN) to help them continue this fight. We need to prepare as much as possible economically for this fight, which has cost others dearly. We hope this will not be the case, but we must prepare for the worst.
This will likely be an important case to clarify the constitutional rights of association, right of privacy, and due process for private farmers/gardeners and private men and women who wish to directly associate concerning products of the farm. Imagine restoring these fundamental rights to informed private men and women who wish to have more control over where they get the food they provide their families. More regulation by our government is not always the best thing for men and women, especially when that regulation is making small farmers/gardeners close their doors because of economic hardship, which in turn limits food choices for all. There is a place for the MDA to interject itself in the food supply chain, however the use of their powers should not be between the private farm and private man or woman.
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. -Abraham Lincoln-