“Two more Maine towns—Appleton and Livermore– have passed food sovereignty ordinances in the last few days during the current town meeting season. This brings to eight the total number that have legally sanctioned private food sales by local farmers over the last year.
In the meantime, the state’s prosecution of Blue Hill farmer Dan Brown for selling raw milk under his town’s food sovereignty ordinance, passed last spring, continues apace, with depositions being taken of key participants. A trial is possible by late fall.
The dissonance implied in the Dan Brown case–between the expanding will of the people, as expressed via the adoption of food sovereignty ordinances, and the resistance of the bureaucrats–isn’t just a chance occurrence. Now it can be tracked and at least partially explained, thanks to a treasure trove of nearly 700 pages of documents obtained by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund from the state of Maine under its Public Records Act, in connection with the Dan Brown case (which it is helping Brown defend). The documents include email communication between officials within the Maine Department of Agriculture and with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as well as between the regulators and farmers, along with various policy statements. It’s not the most scintillating reading—lots of stuff about upcoming meetings and depositions and who can attend and can’t attend, for example—but buried within the tedium are important statements that enable an outsider to track the motivations of key participants.
Because the documents touch on a number of important areas—the evolution of Maine’s stiffening policy, an effort to pin the blame for illnesses on raw dairy farmers, and the important role of federal regulators–I’ll be writing about the revelations from these documents in several installments. In this first one, I track the evolution of the Dan Brown case—a major suit against a two-cow dairy– as an outgrowth of the federal government’s ever more intense war on small dairies in general, and raw milk in particular….”