Oregon Dairy Farmer Challenges Constitutionality of Ban on Raw Milk Advertising

In August 2012, a dairy farmer received a visit from Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) officials, who instructed her to remove the prices of raw milk from her website. The officials were enforcing an old ban that prohibits the advertisements of raw milk, despite the fact that raw milk sales are legal in the state. Now, the dairy farmer is challenging the constitutionality of the ban.

On November 19, 2013, the Institute of Justice, a civil liberties law firm, filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the dairy farmer, arguing that the ban violates the First Amendment.

“It shouldn’t be a crime to talk about something that’s legal. You can’t run a successful business if you can’t talk about it,” says Michael Bindas, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice. “…The First Amendment protects not only political and artistic speech, but commercial speech as well, and government therefore cannot prohibit entrepreneurs like [her] from advertising a perfectly legal product.”

The farmer claims that the ban has prohibited her from reaching out to new customers when she has a surplus of raw milk to sell; explaining the milking, bottling and testing procedures she uses; and educating the public on safety measures.

“I would love to speak freely about my milk and farm without fearing someone will construe that as advertising,” she says.

Bindas argues that there is precedence with U.S. Supreme Court striking down similar bans on legal products such as alcohol because they would violate the First Amendment, giving raw milk advocates hope that this case, too, will have a just outcome.

Read more about the ban and lawsuit here:



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