Raw milk advertising regulations have been eased in Oregon after the state Department of Agriculture settled a First Amendment lawsuit pertaining to unpasteurized dairy promotions. The free speech lawsuit was brought by a Libertarian public interest firm, The Institute for Justice, on behalf of Christine Anderson, a McMinnville dairy farmer.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture agreed to ask the state legislature to repeal the raw milk advertising ban and not to enforce such regulations during the review process. “Christine is part of a nationwide movement of small-scale food producers and consumers are tired of the government dictating what foods they can grow, sell, and eat,” attorney Michael Bindas said after the free speech lawsuit settlement.
Christine Anderson stated that she does not plan to advertise raw milk she produces on her Cast Iron Farm beyond a sign placed on the 12-acre property. According to Anderson, she has a plethora of customers who are eager to pay $14 per gallon for raw milk. The First Amendment lawsuit does give her the power to add information to Cast Iron Farm website promoting her unpasteurized dairy products. The Oregon dairy farmer can no add a price list and details pertaining to how the raw milk is produced on the website, without fear of government intrusion into her small farming business.
The Institute for Justice listed some of the practical effects of the law in a press release. These effects include:
- Farmers cannot put up a sign by the side of the road that they are selling raw milk. The law subjects violators to a fine of $6,250 and civil penalties of up to $10,000.
- Private individuals who believe in the benefits of raw milk are not allowed to talk about it or promote it.
Oregon Department of Agriculture Food Safety Director Vance Bybee had this to say about the raw milk lawsuit:
“The settlement reflects an effort to be responsive and sensitive to the constitutional issues raised in this issue.”
The Oregon Department of Justice is currently reviewing the Cast Iron Farm raw milk lawsuit settlement details. Restrictions on raw milk sales in the state still remain in effect. Unpasteurized milk may only be sold on the farm where it is produced. Farmers are only permitted to have nine sheep, nine, goats, and up to three cows producing raw milk which will be sold to the public.
Prior to the free speech lawsuit settlement Christine Anderson said, “Raw milk is legal to sell, but you can’t talk about it.”
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