Lake View Natural Dairy (LVND), a privately owned raw/unpastuerized dairy that sells directly to consumers only, is in the beginning of their fourth year of misery with the MN Department of Agriculture (MDA). The only point that is being litigated by the MDA is whether they have the right to step foot upon LVND’s property.
Currently, LVND is appealing their case to the MN Supreme Court. This filing to the MN Supreme Court can be viewed here, Petition for Review, and is an easy and precise seven page read. An additional Addendum of supporting documents can also be viewed here. When a case is appealed to the MN Supreme Court, the court makes the decision to hear the case or not. If they choose not to hear the case, the lower courts decision would stand. We will learn in the next several weeks and months whether the MN Supreme Court will take the Lake View Natural Dairy case. Zenas Baer, LVND’s attorney, states the argument well within the Petition for Review,
“The ‘Nanny State’ has no place at the bargaining table between informed consumers buying from a farmer to nourish their family. This Court [MN Supreme Court] should reaffirm the sacred nature of a private contract. It must be remembered that the amendment at issue [Article 13, Section 7] was adopted in 1906, when the right to freely enter into contracts was at its apex in this country. The right to contract as one sees fit was then deemed a ‘liberty interest’ entitled to constitutional protection. Lochner v. People of State of New York, 198 U.S. 45, 53 (1905) (‘The general right to make contract in relation to his business is part of the liberty of the individual protected by the 14th Amendment of the Federal Constitution.’) The courts below failed to give sufficient weight to the original intent of the drafters and the public who overwhelmingly approved this amendment to the constitution. The Court should reaffirm that original intent matters and that neither courts, legislatures nor unelected bureaucrats have the right to amend the state Constitution-i.e. the Constitution is subject to amendment only through the procedures expressly set forth in that document for its amendment.”
It is clear however, from an MDA inspection report in 2013 that any inspection that is allowed by the MDA will lead to LVND being required to pastuerize and bottle their milk within a bottling plant. This type of inspection would lead to the regulatory mandates contained in the 2013 inspection report and would financially slam the doors of LVND closed. This is the reason that LVND, who has never had a health complaint concerning their product, refuses to allow the MDA to step foot upon their property, as it would lead to the farms immediate destruction.
The mandated regulatory changes directed at a “Dairy Plant” that the MDA listed in their 2013 inspection report do not apply because, at the District Court level, the MDA was found to be wrong in their attempt to define LVND as a dairy plant, rather than just a regular old private farm. That ruling was devastating to the MDA and illustrated their attempt at regulatory overreach. However, District Court found that two statutes, out of the hundreds the MDA was attempting to wrongly apply to LVND, allow the MDA to come onto the farm’s property, a point that is still being litigated.
LVND is operating as normal during this continued litigation! Please continue to support the farm, and our own ability to exercise our fundamental right to enter into private contract with our neighbors (like buying some extra potatoes from your neighbor’s garden). This long-term litigation strategy by the MDA is a typical and accepted strategy to bankrupt a legal opponent. Thankfully, Farm-to-Consumer Defense Fund has been funding this defense that would currently cost over $55,000 at full rate legal cost. If LVND had no support from this defense fund and its loyal customers (who are defending their own rights through this case), we would sadly have lost LVND in the early months of this case as they have no financial ability to mount this defense themselves. Let’s continue to show them that they have our support by continuing our patronage.