Informational Meeting at 7pm on Saturday, March 7th

Michael Hartmann is a farmer from Gibbon, MN who has been to court fighting the MDA for over 15 years.  I have referenced his case that went to the MN Supreme Court in 2005 in past posts.  He knows this topic intimately and can give insight into what we need to do as a community to protect the Lake View Natural Dairy and our right to purchase products from them.

We will be holding an informational meeting on Saturday, March 7th at 7pm located at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Grand Marais (location).  Michael will be talking about his experience and will take questions from those attending.  Some of the Berglund family will also be in attendance, but will be unable to take questions due to the upcoming hearing.  I will attend and take questions if needed.

If anyone that is planning on attending knows how to use the church coffee makers, let me know.

FYI…Media will not be allowed at this meeting, so feel free to talk and ask questions.  Please don’t interpret this as anything negative against media, just some people have expressed they would be less open to conversation otherwise.

Thanks.

 

What to Expect on March 9th’s Court Date?

On the morning of Monday, March 9th, at 9am at the Cook County Courthouse, the Berglund family, many organizations, myself, and most importantly many community members I have spoken to are hoping for a large turnout of quiet support.  I have a good guess that the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is not hoping for the same.  I would like to encourage anyone who has the time or can arrange for the time off from work, to at a minimum come between the hours of 8:30am to a bit past 9:00am, and if you can stay throughout the hearing.

Please arrive early for security screening (metal detector) and seating as there may only be standing room available (first row seating is reserved and the rest is first-come-first-serve).  Please leave metal items (i.e. pocket knives, restricted weapons, etc.) in your vehicles to help our deputies with the potential large volume of persons attending the hearing.  No hand bags, purses or briefcases will be allowed in the court.  If you forget you have restricted items on your person, you will be asked to return them to your vehicle.

The goal is to assemble for a quiet, respectable show of support with our presence, for the farm, so the MDA can feel that support.  I cannot tell people how to show their support, but our request is that people will refrain from pickets, chants or attention getting clothing.  Our intent is to have the MDA, media and public observe an everyday cross section of our community and those who support our local Lake View Natural Dairy.  Even more importantly we want them to observe people who hold dear our constitutionally protected right as men and women to make choices for our own families and enter into associations that we rightfully choose.

We will be showing up at the court house at 8:00am and I, and likely others, will be on hand to speak with people, that wish to, about the issue being heard in court.  There won’t be any court house rally speeches or anything like that.  (There is an informational meeting at 7pm on Saturday, March 7th, with Michael Hartmann at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Grand Marais, see post.)  After the hearing, Zenas Baer, the farm’s attorney, has agreed to speak in the commissioners room if supporters wish.

I want to be very clear in my personally held great respect for our Cook County Sheriff’s Office.  As I have said before, the Sheriff’s Office is knowledgeable about this issue, and has acted in an exemplary manner in carrying out their mission to protect an individual’s rights and to defend the federal and state constitution.  I wish that any impact that I can have on the day’s events be peaceful, respectful and “low stress” inducing to the sheriff and deputies working to ensure our safety at the court house.  I would truly ask that we all give them our verbal thanks for their service and as an acknowledgment of the personal risk they place themselves in daily.

In addition, during the time I was a Cook County Deputy Sheriff, I testified in front of Judge Michael Cuzzo and I have great respect for him as our elected judicial officer in our region.  I believe he is a man with firm regard for the law and who fairly applies justice in our court.  Our quiet respect in his court room will be noticed.

There are several outcomes possible at the end of the court hearing that is estimated to be up to and around two hours.  The judge has the ability to rule at the hearing, but this is unlikely.  It would be more likely that the arguments from the MDA and the farms attorney will require further evidence be given to the court on a future date.  What is important here, in my view, is that we all realize that this is very well the beginning of two or more hearings.

I would like to impart to the MDA that we will be here for the long haul, whether that be one or more hearings.  With those intentions in mind, I have reserved the commissioners meeting room and an additional room across from that from 8am to 1pm for overflow seating if the courtroom is full.  I have been told that the commissioners room can hold around 100 persons with several more in the additional room.  These rooms are downstairs from the courtroom and there is additional seating in the hallways also.

I have spoken with the Sheriff and he is looking into maximum occupancy from the fire marshal so that a safe occupancy of the building is maintained.  It’s a lot to ask, but think of the message that will be received by the MDA if the building was at its maximum, even after a two hour court hearing, it would be deafening in symbolism.  Audio and/or video from the courtroom was requested in the other “overflow” rooms, but is not currently available.

Most of all, please DON’T assume someone else will be at the hearing and it’s not important for you personally to attend.  At this time, I have no estimate to the number of people planning on attending the court date.  Above all else, this is about our individual rights, which must be protected by each individual themselves!  Recruit others to arrive with you and stay throughout the hearing if possible.  Spread this website and links to others, so they might choose to come on March 9th!

Please click “here” and simply type “I’ll be there!” in the subject line, so that we can get an accurate estimate of how many will be attending.  If you will have people with you that will not be responding to this, please add a number.

See you there!

The US Constitution’s 1st Amendment and How it Protects the Dairy to Consumer Association

 

The US Constitution’s 1st Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  The specific passage of the 1st Amendment that relates to the right of association between consumers and a small farm is, “right of the people peaceably to assemble.”  Here is my “non-legal expert” understanding of this argument.

There have been several US Supreme Court decisions throughout the last 200+ years that have clarified the above passage.  One such case that effects the issue we are dealing with in Cook County is Roberts v. United States Jaycees (1984) that stated, “implicit in the right to engage in activities protected by the First Amendment” is “a corresponding right to associate with others in pursuit of a wide variety of political, social, economic, educational, religious, and cultural ends” (bold added by me).

In the Roberts v. US Jaycees case, US Supreme Court Justices explained, “Our decisions have referred to constitutionally protected “freedom of association” in two distinct senses. In one line of decisions, the Court has concluded that choices to enter into and maintain certain intimate human relationships must [468 U.S. 609, 618]   be secured against undue intrusion by the State because of the role of such relationships in safeguarding the individual freedom that is central to our constitutional scheme. In this respect, freedom of association receives protection as a fundamental element of personal liberty. In another set of decisions, the Court has recognized a right to associate for the purpose of engaging in those activities protected by the First Amendment – speech, assembly, petition for the redress of grievances, and the exercise of religion. The Constitution guarantees freedom of association of this kind as an indispensable means of preserving other individual liberties”  (bold added by me).  When the justices speak about these rights, they are rights that intrinsically then may NOT be intruded upon by the State, unless the State were to successfully argue, with articulable fact, the intrusion was so great a matter of importance to all citizens and the intrusion was extremely narrow in it’s scope.

Specific to the Lake View Natural Dairy case is this “right of intimate association.”  Specifically I am identifying here, the right of the consumer to choose where to source the food from which we choose to feed our families.  The justices went on to write, “Without precisely identifying every consideration that may underlie this type of constitutional protection, we have noted that certain kinds of personal bonds have played a critical role in the culture [468 U.S. 609, 619]   and traditions of the Nation by cultivating and transmitting shared ideals and beliefs; they thereby foster diversity and act as critical buffers between the individual and the power of the State. See, e. g., Zablocki v. Redhail, 434 U.S. 374, 383 -386 (1978); Moore v. East Cleveland, 431 U.S. 494, 503 -504 (1977) (plurality opinion); Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, 232 (1972); Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 482 -485 (1965); Pierce v. Society of Sisters, supra, at 535. See also Gilmore v. City of Montgomery, 417 U.S. 556, 575 (1974); NAACP v. Alabama ex rel. Patterson, 357 U.S. 449, 460 -462 (1958); Poe v. Ullman, 367 U.S. 497, 542 -545 (1961) (Harlan, J., dissenting). ”

There are standards to meet the definition of an “intimate association.”  The justices write, “The personal affiliations that exemplify these considerations, and that therefore suggest some relevant limitations on the relationships that might be entitled to this sort of constitutional protection, are those that attend the creation and sustenance of a family.”  The Webster’s Dictionary definition of “sustenance” is:  1.  The act of sustaining; support; maintenance; subsistence; as, the sustenance of the body; the sustenance of life.  2.  That which supports life; food; victuals; provisions; means of living; as, the city has ample sustenance (bold added by me).

The protection of the 1st Amendment that controls the state from interfering with “intimate associations” has limits upon the definition of,  who or what are associating.  The Supreme Court Justices attempt to identify who or what may be protected:  “Among other things, therefore, they are distinguished by such attributes as relative smallness, a high degree of selectivity in decisions to begin and maintain the affiliation, and seclusion from others in critical aspects of the relationship. As a general matter, only relationships with these sorts of qualities are likely to reflect the considerations that have led to an understanding of freedom of association as an intrinsic element of personal liberty.”  (Roberts v. US Jaycees, 1984).

The dairy farm is small as are the number of men and women who purchase products there.  The affiliation is selective due to men and women having to travel directly to the dairy farm to purchase the products it provides.  Participants must seek out the dairy and inform themselves as to the dairy’s operation.  The majority of men and women are functionally denied access from the relationship because of the farm only selling directly from their location.

The association is intimate in it’s intrinsic nature, that of David and his family raising food from the cultivated land to feed their immediate community.  This is truly an intimate association that is worthy of the protections afforded by our US Constitution under the 1st Amendment.

Next I will be identifying and linking to some nationally recognized bloggers that are also writing articles on the Lake View Natural Dairy case.  Stay tuned.

 

 

The Minnesota Constitution and How it Protects the Dairy to Consumer Association

In previous posts I have written about the Minnesota Constitution, specifically Article 13, Section 7, “No license required to peddle.  Any person may sell or peddle the products of the farm or garden occupied and cultivated by him without obtaining a license therefor.”  In this post I want to explain a bit more about my understanding of how this Minnesota Constitutional Aritcle protects the right of association between a farmer selling products of the farm directly to the consumer.

In 1904, a farmer was selling melons on the streets of Minneapolis and was accused of “peddling without a license.”  The farmer was later found guilty.  You can imagine during the era, that this association of a farmer selling directly to a consumer would be viewed as any person’s basic right (see Ninth Amendment to the US Constitution: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”)  At the time that our founders passed the US Constitution they realized that there was an endless list of basic rights, like sourcing your own food, that were to numerous to list (therefore you get the Ninth Amendment).

In addition, the cost of a peddler’s license at the time was equivalent to half the years wage of an average farmer, so therefore was cost prohibitive and would restrict many farmers from selling their own products.  In 1906, Article 13, Section 7 was put to a vote in Minnesota and was passed overwhelmingly  (the amendment received 190,897 votes in favor and 34,094 in opposition, out of a total of 284,366 votes.  William Anderson, A History of the Constitution of Minnesota 157 (1921)).

At the time, there was only licensure occurring in Minnesota concerning food sales and handling.  It appears that the original intent of the people of MN was to remove the state from intruding in the association of farmers selling their products directly to the consumer.  In State of MN v. Hartmann (2005) the Minnesota Supreme Court Justices included in their opinion the following: “The circumstances leading up to the passage of article XIII, section 7, make clear that the voters of Minnesota intended to protect the commercial relationship between farmers and their customers by restricting the state’s power to license the sale of farm products directly to the consumer.  This view is supported by this court’s observation in a 1925 case that article XIII, section 7, gives “recognition [] to the fact that tillers of the soil stand in a peculiar position in reference to the marketing of their products, and it prohibits the imposition of a license to sell or peddle the same.”  Minnesota Wheat Growers’ Co-op Marketing Ass’n v. Huggins, 162 Minn. 471, 480, 203 N.W. 420, 424 (1925).

Inspection and regulation of commercially available food in general, started in 1913, seven years later.  There was statute added decades later (specifically the Dairy statute, which includes inspection and regulation, https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/statutes/?id=32&view=chapter#sthash.GzL9vTwD.dpuf and the Food Licensing Law, which limits sales of raw milk, http://www.supportlakeviewnaturaldairy.org/#sthash.GzL9vTwD.dpuf).  However, statute can not violate a protection of the Minnesota Constitution – and that is one of the basic legal arguments of this case.

When someone wants to challenge the legality of a statute, the burden is generally on the challenger to prove the statute is illegal.  So in this case, the dairy farm attorney would have to prove the statutes (dairy and food licensing chapters) are illegal when being applied to the dairy farm, right?  WRONG!  When a statute is being challenged AND it is successfully argued that the statute is infringing on a protection given by the State or Federal Constitution, there is a legal rule that shifts the burden of proof to the State called, “The Strict Scrutiny Analysis.”

In this scenario, the State must prove that they are able to impose the statute because of a narrowly defined argument that somehow supersedes the constitutional protection or individual liberty in question (in this case specifically Article 13, Section 7 protections).  The MDA asserts that the reason that they can impose inspection/regulation (through existing application of statute) is due to a safety issue concerning raw milk.  However, assertions that raw milk poses a safety risk is simply not supported by objective modern standards (see article for further information: http://www.realmilk.com/press/new-studies-confirm-raw-milk-low-risk-food/#sthash.NiRcvWoa.dpuf).  Further more,  statute already allows the “occasional” sale of raw milk (MN Statute 32.393 subd.1: https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/statutes/?id=32&view=chapter#sthash.NiRcvWoa.dpuf)  which does not make logical sense if there is an overriding safety issue as the MDA asserts.  MDA employees have testified in court about what “occasional sales” mean, but unfortunately have given different answers as to how many times purchasing in a month would qualify as “occasional.”

In my opinion, the combinatory effect of Article 13, Section 7, along with the Ninth Amendment (that there are protected rights that are not enumerated anywhere), establishes a constitutionally protected right.  That right is, as you can guess, the consumer (you and I who want to buy raw milk) to associate with the farmer (David Berglund) by purchasing the raw milk.  The MDA has never made a successful argument, to my knowledge, that they have the right to interfere in the above listed “right of association.”  This legal argument is very simplified, and that is why I ask you to join me in court on March 9th.

When it’s available, I will post the State’s petition to the court, and the Lake View Natural Dairy’s answer to the State’s petition, prior to the court date.

By the way, certain “rights of association” are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution too, which I will write about sometime – but right now I need to feed my kids.

*Please remember that these are the arguments as I understand them to be and I am not a legal expert.  However, I do believe that my 15 years of law enforcement experience do give me a unique perspective of the issues.

Policing Milk: A Cop’s View on the Lake View Dairy Case

The two most important roles that I hold in life are that of a husband and that of a father of two small girls.  My daughters will inherit my legacy, the society we live in and the rules by which it is governed.  I want to make that legacy as positive as possible.  I wouldn’t label myself a raw milk advocate or a farm rights advocate, not that those things aren’t important.  I am an advocate of rule of law, limits on the authority of our government and ultimately an advocate for my family.  So, you might say, “Uh-oh, this guy doesn’t like government.”  That would be far from the truth.

From 1999 to 2013 I was a cop.  I spent thirteen years employed with the Minneapolis Police Department and two years with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.  During that time I made over 1000 arrests.  I was a cop because I believed that people shouldn’t live in fear of victimization.  I was a cop because I believe in defending those who may not be able to defend themselves.  I was a cop because there were many aspects of the job that were fulfilling and enjoyable.  I was a cop because I believed that it was my duty to stop people, who due to their strength or perceived power and short regard for the law, would continue to victimize those who were unlucky enough to cross their path.  I left policing fifteen months ago to raise my daughters.  It was a hard decision, but not difficult when compared to what I was leaving for.

During my fifteen years as a law enforcement officer one of my most important duties was to ensure people were following the laws of our state and holding them responsible if they did not.  Duh, right?  That’s what every cop would say.  However, another duty that I held with equal value, was that of protecting people’s individual rights.  I would rather have lost an arrest, than have violated an individual’s constitutional rights, however upsetting that could be to me personally.  These tightly held beliefs came from the understanding that our society and government only function when individuals are held responsible for their actions and state agents only act within their given limits of authority.

I’ve provided my personal background because I’m asking you to support something that’s important to me.   A government’s respect of their own limits of authority is an important function of a democracy.   This belief developed throughout my career and will be something I hold to a high standard for the rest of my life.

Living in Cook County, Minnesota, I was fortunate to learn of Lake View Natural Dairy over six years ago.  I have been drinking their raw milk ever since.  I wasn’t aware of the health benefits nor am I some big nutritional guru….I just like the taste better than pasteurized milk.  The dairy farm has a nice little milk house, with an honor system payment method.  I even asked my local doctor about giving the milk to our kids and she said the dairy products at the farm were just fine.  The dairy farm is small and sells their products directly to the customer.

Throughout the years I’ve had conversations with the owner, David Berglund.  I learned that the farm was being pressured to submit to inspection by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA).  Some people may say there is nothing wrong with a little inspection.  However, such an inspection is a vehicle that is meant to lead to regulatory compliance (meaning control by an outside entity, the MDA), in this case pasteurization.  I believe that the MDA is acting outside its limits of authority.  I had many conversations while working as a deputy sheriff at the sheriff’s office with other law enforcement personnel about this issue.  I often thought about what I would do if the MDA came to the farm while I was on duty.  David had told the MDA agents not to return to his property, would they be trespassing if they returned without court documentation?

Before I left the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, the MDA had shown up at the farm (without any court orders), despite being told they should stay away (the Sheriff’s Office was not notified or involved).  They entered and took pictures of the unoccupied milk house.  Later, they located David and gave him a report telling him he was in violation of state regulations, and that he needed to pasteurize the milk that he produced.  During my career I would have considered those actions a possible trespass.  Everyone should have the right to keep others from trespassing on their property after they are warned verbally or in writing to stay away (MN criminal statute 609.605 sub.1(b)(7)).  David filed a trespass report that was taken by Cook County Sheriff Mark Falk.  In my opinion, the MDA should have respected the rule of law concerning trespass, even when it concerns someone that is resisting their perceived authority.

Mid- 2014, Sheriff Mark Falk was contacted by the State and was asked to provide the Sheriff’s Office assistance concerning the MDA’s attempts to impose inspection/regulation upon the dairy.  Sheriff Falk had a discussion with them about the protections Lake View Natural Dairy was given by our Minnesota Constitution.  He further told them, “Good luck getting the Deputy Sheriff’s to help because there are several deputies that do business there.”  Sheriff Falk went on to tell them that as long as he was in office, they (the State) would not get any assistance from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office concerning this specific matter.  Sheriff Falk has given me permission to include the above quote and his involvement concerning the case in this article.

Sheriff Falk retired soon after and the Chief Deputy of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office was appointed for the last six months of the term as the interim Sheriff.  In late 2014, the MDA again tried to visit the farm and was, by request of the MDA, escorted by the Interim Sheriff.  The Interim Sheriff went to the farm and had the MDA inspectors wait while he spoke to David.  After having a discussion with David, the Interim Sheriff declined to assist the MDA in a forced inspection of the farm, and the MDA representatives turned and left without any actions being taken.  Our Sheriff’s Office is knowledgeable about this issue, and has acted in an exemplary manner in carrying out their mission to protect an individual’s rights and to defend the federal and state constitution.  I am so proud to have worked with them!

The MDA has now petitioned the Cook County Court for a court hearing to find David Berglund in contempt of court for refusal to allow an inspection on his farm.  Among other things, they are petitioning that David pay for the MDA’s expenses in their attempts to force inspection upon the farm as well as a fine of $500 for every day until he submit to an inspection.  These expenses alone could very well be the end of Lake View Natural Dairy.  Submitting to licensing (which the MN Supreme Court has already ruled a farm selling direct to consumer is protected from being forced to do [MN v. Hartmann, 2005]), inspection and regulation would require Lake View Natural Dairy to purchase hundreds of thousands of dollars in pasteurizing and bottling equipment.  To my understanding, they have no desire to do this nor do they have the funds to do so (even with state aid, i.e. tax dollars).  Lake View Natural Dairy would have to close it’s business.

As some may believe, there is no simple solution to licensure, inspection or regulation concerning the MDA attempting to force these things on Lake View Natural Dairy.  In this case, I believe that there is someone here, that is perceived as weak, at least by a state agency.  I believe there is someone here that deserves to be defended from another who would wish to do them wrong.  Though no longer in law enforcement, I still believe that I have a duty.   My duty is to my family and community, to stop something from happening just because a state agency believes they have the strength and perceived power to illegally force their will on a private citizen.

Lately, I’ve been speaking to people about why I believe that I have a protected right to purchase unpasteurized milk/raw milk from Lake View Natural Dairy.  It’s a simple constitutional right.  The MN State Constitution says, “No license required to peddle.  Any person may sell or peddle the products of the farm or garden occupied and cultivated by him without obtaining a license therefor (article 13, section 7).”  This article was passed in 1906, when inspection and regulation did not exist in MN.  In 1904, it came about because a farmer was found guilty of not having a “peddlers license” for selling the products of his farm from a wagon in Minneapolis.  The population voted overwhelmingly to restrict the state’s power to license the sale of farm products directly to the consumer.

In essence, the people voted to end State intrusion in the private association of farmers selling directly to consumers.  But today the State, through the MDA, attempts to work around a citizen supported, constitutional article by interfering in the private association of farms selling direct to consumers.  I believe “right is right.”  Simply put, this just ain’t right.

There are many other legal arguments why the State does not have the statutory authority to interfere with this association of direct farm to consumer sales.  You can find links and articles about these arguments on my website, www.supportlakeviewnaturaldairy.org.  Raw milk is not the same as it was in the 1930s.  Recent science (http://www.realmilk.com/press/new-studies-confirm-raw-milk-low-risk-food/) has shown that raw milk should be listed as a “low risk food,” not high risk as many would have you think today.  The State’s claim that raw milk poses a safety risk is simply not supported by objective modern standards.  The absence of a significant safety risk further supports that the Article 13, section 7, protection covers raw milk, and other raw dairy products such as butter and cheese when sold directly to consumers.

Don’t just take my word for it, do your own research, decide for yourself.   Government’s responsibility is certainly not to regulate away the original intent and protection of an article of our state constitution.  Remember, this issue is about more than raw milk, farm rights or David’s right to sell direct to consumers.  It is about all of our individual rights and our rights to associate privately with each other.  It is about our right to pursue life, liberty and happiness within the greatest and most exceptional country on this earth!  Our government has the responsibility to protect these unalienable rights given to all men and women by our creators, not to interfere with them!

The contempt of court hearing is scheduled for March 9th, at 9am at the Cook County Court House in Grand Marais, MN.  Arrive early.  For updates on the hearing and its location, go to:  www.supportlakeviewnaturaldairy.org

 

 

What would licensure, inspection and regulation mean to Lake View Natural Dairy?

Submitting to licensure , inspection and regulation would require Lake View Natural Dairy to purchase hundreds of thousands of dollars in pasteurizing and bottling equipment to continue to sell milk from the dairy farm (the MN Supreme Court has already ruled that a farm selling directly to the consumer is protected from forced licensure by the MDA, [MN v. Hartmann, 2005] http://law.justia.com/cases/minnesota/supreme-court/2005/opa031674-0728.html).  To my understanding, this is something they have no desire to do nor would they ever be able to afford such an expense.  I’ve been told that state grants would not come close to covering costs and the cost of loans would logically have to be passed on to the consumer.  Lake View Natural Dairy would simply be gone.  And to be clear, the legal argument is that the state does not have the authority to force the dairy into this type of association with them.

Concerning inspection, the MDA does NOT simply come in, inspect and say, “Yup…looks clean and safe” and then leave.  If the Lake View Natural Dairy submitted to forced inspection, resulting in forced regulation compliance, the product would no longer be unpasteurized/raw milk.  I believe the dairy offering  unpasteurized/raw milk is the sole reason why many travel to Lake View Natural Dairy to purchase their product.  I’ve been told that the benefits of unpasteurized/raw milk is why the dairy chooses to produce this product (see http://www.realmilk.com).

Contrary to what some might think, there is no simple solution to handling licensure, inspection or regulation when it comes to the MDA attempting to force these things on Lake View Natural Dairy.  Having a Cook County funded “herd share” (everyone giving money to own the dairy herd collectively) only places more expenses, that are not reasonable, on the customers of the dairy/citizens of Cook County.  As I understand the MDA’s stance, a herd share would not make frequent purchases of unpasteurized/raw milk any more “legal” in their eyes.

The MDA has currently petitioned the Cook County Court for a court hearing to find David Berglund in contempt (March 9th, 9AM-Cook County Court House).  Among other things, they have petitioned that David be forced to pay for the MDA’s expenses in their attempts to force inspection upon the farm.  They also want David to be fined $500 for every day until he submits to inspection and thus comply with the regulation in question.  If all the above listed expenses were forced upon Lake View Natural Dairy,  I can not see how they could remain in existence with the price they would have to pass on to the consumer.

Information about the right to buy direct from farmers in MN

 

Here are some quick links to areas on the web that I have used to come to my conclusions about whether the MN Dept. of Ag. (MDA) has the right to intrude in an association directly from small farm to the consumer:

https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/constitution/#article_13
(This is the MN Constitution article, specifically section 7, that protects the farm direct to consumer association from being licensed by the state.)

https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/statutes/?id=28A&view=chapter   (This is the MN Consolidated Food Licensing Law chapter of MN statute.  Give attention to 28A.02 that is used in the majority decision in MN v. Hartmann, MN Supreme Court case from 2005; and 28A.15 that excludes farmers from 28A.01 through 28A.16.)

https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/statutes/?id=32&view=chapter    (This is the “Dairy Chapter” of MN statute.  The MDA wants to label Lake View Natural Dairy as a “Dairy Plant” – 32.01subd.6.  This would allow the MDA to force pasteurization upon Lake View Natural Dairy if the dairy is labeled a “Dairy Plant” and not simply a “Dairy Farm”.  To my understanding, the MDA says that the Lake View Natural Dairy is a Dairy Plant because they “process the milk into products such as butter” [a product of the farm protected in Article 13 Section 7] .  As you can read in the Hartmann case though, “Neither of these sources [dictionary definitions sited] suggests that a product is limited to unprocessed things.  To the contrary, both definitions recognize processing as incidental to the making of a product.”)

http://law.justia.com/cases/minnesota/supreme-court/2005/opa031674-0728.html  (This is a court case about farms selling direct to consumers in MN from 2005, concerning “custom processed meat”, but could easily effect the selling of milk.  The majority decision by the court holds that farmers selling direct to consumers are protected from licensure from the state, however inspection and regulation are outside of the function of licensing farmers.  This was a very weak argument for inspection and regulation to be separate from licensure, in my opinion.  Three dissenting justices, of the seven on the MN Supreme Court, argued that the protection of Article 13, section 7 of the MN Constitution includes limiting the state from inspecting and regulating the farm involved only in an association from farm direct to consumer.)

http://www.realmilk.com/  (This is a website that is dedicated to not only up-to-date information about raw/unpasteurized milk, but also is active legally in defending and promoting raw/unpasteurized milk in all fifty states.  They are making the legal defense of Lake View Natural Dairy possible.)

*These are some sources that I have used to come to my opinions shared on this site.  There are several other arguments against the MDA’s intrusion into the farm direct to consumer association that I will work on posting in the future.

**Please understand that I support the MDA in their general mission of keeping the food supply safe in MN.  However, my disagreement is in their attempts at intruding into the specific association of farm direct to consumer, where I don’t believe their is a safety issue that supersedes the constitutional protection provided by Article 13, Section 7 of the MN Constitution.

 

 

Court Date: Monday March 9th at 9:00 am. Arrive early.

Please support your individual right to make choices for you and your family. My name is Greg Gentz and as a customer of Lake View Natural Dairy, I ask that you come to the court hearing regarding the Minnesota Department of Agriculture attempting to force regulation upon Lake View Natural Dairy. This regulation would stop the dairy from providing the current services it offers… products it has offered to the people of Cook County, MN for over 12 years, a tradition spanning over the last 100 years.  Check this website often as I will add information regularly, as I understand it, about this matter and arguments against the MDA’s intentions.

Court hearing scheduled for March 9th at 9:00 am.
Cook County Courthouse
411 West 2nd Street
Grand Marais, MN 55604

Please arrive early for security screening and seating as there may only be standing room available.  Please leave metal items (i.e. pocket knives, etc.) in your vehicles to help our deputies with the potential large volume of persons attending the hearing.  If you forget you have restricted items on your person, you will be asked to return them to your vehicle. 

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office did NOT force an inspection upon the Lake View Natural Dairy on behalf of the MN Dept. of Agriculture as requested.   This occurred because the Sheriff’s Office was informed about the issue at hand.  Thank them when you see them, this may have been the first time this has occurred throughout the country!