State inspectors in Minnesota are being accused of trespassing on private property without warrants and trying to get a county sheriff to violate the state Constitution in an attempt to inspect and potentially shut down raw milk production at an organic family farm.
The actions of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) were so outrageous that the local sheriff’s office refused to help in its enforcement efforts. MDA now wants to fine the farm $500 a day until owners agree to an inspection.
MDA officials trespassed by entering a milk house at the Lake View Natural Dairy without a warrant and taking pictures of the operation without owner David Berglund’s permission, former Cook County (Minnesota) Sheriff’s Deputy Greg Gentz alleged in a blog post. Berglund only became aware of the incident when inspectors showed him photos of his building. MDA says the farm is in violation of state regulations.
The dairy farmer was so enraged by the incident that he filed a trespassing report with police, Gentz noted. Gentz has 15 years of law enforcement experience and was a patron of Lake View Dairy. The Berglund’s attorney says it’s an example of the “nanny state” at work.
Sheriff Refuses to Take Action Against Raw Milk
Despite the trespassing incident, MDA said the inspection wasn’t complete – and it requested the assistance of the local sheriff’s office to take part in a forced inspection.
Former Cook County Sheriff Mark Falk refused to cooperate with the MDA’s actions against Berglund because he felt the department’s actions violated the Minnesota constitution, Gentz wrote. Gentz alleged that the MDA asked Falk to use sheriff’s deputies to force to Berglund to comply with inspection.
“Good luck getting the deputy sheriffs to help because there are several deputies that do business there,” Falk reportedly told the MDA.
The Minnesota Constitution presumably protects the dairy and reads, “Any person may sell or peddle the products of the farm or garden occupied and cultivated by him without obtaining a license therefor.”
When Falk retired, MDA asked the interim sheriff to have deputies accompany its inspectors to the farm and force Berglund to submit to inspection. After going to the farm and speaking to Berglund, the interim sheriff also refused to cooperate with MDA.
$500-A-Day Fine Threat
The sheriff’s refusal to cooperate did not stop MDA. The agency has petitioned the Cook County Court to issue a contempt of court order that would fine Berglund $500 a day until he submits to inspection.
If Berglund and his wife Heidi had to pay the fine, the farm would have to shut down, Gentz wrote – simply because they then would need to purchase hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of pasteurization equipment.
MDA’s own website says that “Minnesota law allows the sale of unpasteurized milk so long as it occurs on the farm at which the milk was produced.” It’s not clear what the state wants.
Department of Agriculture Accused of Violating State Constitution
The Berglunds will get their day in court on Monday, March 9, at the Cook County Court House in Grand Marais, Minnesota. Their supporters want a large crowd to attend to support them.
The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund is backing the Berglunds and assisting with their case. Those who wish to support the family can make a donation at the Fund’s website.
The Berglunds keep around 60 cows on the farm, which has been in the family since 1886, The Dairy Star reported.
“I discovered that folks want to go back to good, old-fashioned, unprocessed dairy products,” David Berglund told The Dairy Star. Berglund said he follows state law. Customers have driven as far as 150 miles to purchase the milk.
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