Maine Raw Milk Case Reaches State Supreme Court

Dan Brown, a Maine farmer who has been battling the state over raw milk regulations since 2011, is getting his day in the state’s Supreme Judicial Court.

In 2005, the Maine Department of Agriculture told Brown that he did not need a license to sell raw milk from his farm. But six years later, different officials changed that decision and instructed Brown to get a license and label his milk with consumer health warnings. Brown ignored the requirements and continued to sell raw milk from his farm, encouraged by his town’s passing of a local “food freedom” ordinance stating that small-scale farmers selling products directly to consumers are exempt from state and federal food safety requirements.

The state sued Brown, who lost at the trial court level and appealed to the state’s high court. In mid-May, Dan Brown and his attorneys appeared in Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court to argue that the trial court’s ruling was improper “…on the basis that the state is equitably estopped from requiring the license, the local ‘food freedom’ ordinance, Brown does not fit the definition of a milk distributor, and the posted warning sign means he ‘substantially complied’ with the labeling requirements.” In 33 minutes, they presented their arguments and answered questions from the justices that focused mostly on “whether the state’s interest in preventing foodborne illnesses and potential deaths is enough to override the ‘esstoppel doctrine.’’

Brown and his family are awaiting the court’s decision.

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation. Donate to help fund research into the benefits of nutrient dense foods.

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