Raw Milk: Blue Hill Case Heading To Supreme Court

Main raw milk farmer Dan Brown will soon be pleading his case in front of the state supreme court. The Gravelwood Farm owner of Blue Hill is accused of selling unpasteurized milk without a license, and two other violations, in 2011. The Maine Department of Agriculture and Brown were able to settle the matter during mediation.

Hancock Superior Court Judge Ann Murray issued a summary judgment in the raw milk case in favor of the state agriculture department last year. The decision was upheld several months later, and a $1,000 fine was issued against the unpasteurized dairy farmer. Judge Murray struck down a motion request to stay the decision until Dan Brown could appeal the raw milk charges to the Maine Supreme Court.

Oral arguments in the Maine raw milk case are slated to being on May 13. Gary Cox, one of Brown’s attorneys, said, “I believe this means the supreme court of Maine believes the issues involved are very significant.”

The Gravelwood Farm owner was charged with one count of selling unlicensed raw milk, selling raw milk without an identifying label, and with operating a retail food establishment without a license. Brown and his lawyers have maintained throughout unpasteurized milk battle, that Gravelwood Farm does have the right to sell raw dairy products.

Brown cited the Local Foods and Self-Governance Act passed in 2001 in Blue Hill as well as Maine Home Rule statutes when defending himself against the three charges. Judge Murray did not agree that the local foods ordinance covers raw milks and feels such sells could have “serious public health consequences.”

In the months following the judge’s decision in the Blue Hill raw milk case the Maine 126th Legislature has voted upon two related bills. LD 1282 was passed by both the house and the senate but ultimately vetoed by the governor who objected to the farmers market sales included in the bill. LD 1786 was given an “Ought to Pass” vote by the Maine Agriculture Committee but died in both the state senate and the house the following week. The bill would have permitted directs farm to consumer sales from restaurants attached to farms, farms stands, and on-site at farms.

In response to farming bills not becoming law, Brown said, “With the lack of progress in our legislature, I think winning this case is imperative, not just for me, but for everyone in the state of Maine. Due to the court injunction which stopped the dairy farmer from selling raw milk Brown filed for bankruptcy and embarked on a lobster fishing endeavor.

Do you think that farmers should be allowed to sell raw milk?

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