It was one of those days when the courthouse was full in Grand Marais, Minnesota. An overflow crowd turned out to see how their neighbor — the owner of the popular Lake View Natural Dairy — would fare against the state Department of Agriculture. The agency had hoped to enforce a $500 a day fine against the business for refusing to allow an inspection.
In this “David and Goliath” contest, David Berglund and his attorney convinced Judge Michael Cuzzo to stay the order to inspect. That means no fine. At issue was Article 13, Section 7 of the Minnesota constitution which states, “Any person may sell or peddle the products of the farm or garden occupied and cultivated by him without obtaining a license therefor.” As you can tell by the spelling in the last word of that sentence, that passage has been around for more than a century, when bureaucracies would never have dreamed of being so intrusive.
According to Berglund’s attorney Zenas Baer, “From what I hear it is a decision that has national implications and is being watched quite closely by a considerable number of groups on a national basis. It’s not only the farmer’s right, it also includes the consumer’s right to be the second half of the transaction. You can’t sell and peddle anything unless you have a willing consumer on the other side of the transaction.”
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It certainly sounds like Berguland has his supporters. They know what they’re getting and believe in the proven health benefits of raw milk. Some even travel over 200 miles from Minneapolis-St. Paul to stock up.
Despite the good news for Lake View Natural Dairy last week, there’s still some uncertainty. Judge Cuzzo is taking up to 90 days to make a final ruling. So we don’t know if this past week’s victory was only a temporary measure to let excited feelings calm down or an indication that the state agency has to pull back for good.