Tag Archives: Maine

Judge’s ruling drove Dan Brown out of farming — now he’s appealing the case

From David E. Gumpert, on the Complete Patient blog:

Former Maine Farmer Dan Brown, interviewed by television reporter. Photo via The Complete Patient blog.

“Lawyers for Maine farmer Dan Brown say a judge who issued an injunction last April barring him from selling raw milk “completely overlooked” that he would have had to spend $62,500 to comply with regulations to obtain a state permit for his one-cow dairy.

As a result, “The injunction has put Mr. Brown’s farm out of business,” according to a brief filed on behalf of Brown by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund to appeal the decision by Superior Court Judge Ann Murray.  In addition, Brown was assessed $1,132 in fines and court costs.  Continue reading

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Should you be able to buy food directly from farmers? U.S. local and federal governments disagree over food rights

From David E. Gumpert on Waking Times.com

Some people like to buy their food direct from the farmers who grow it. Click image for source.

“This would seem to embody the USDA’s advisory, “Know your farmer, know your food,” right? Not exactly.

For the USDA and its sister food regulator, the FDA, there’s a problem: many of the farmers are distributing the food via private contracts like herd shares and leasing arrangements, which fall outside the regulatory system of state and local retail licenses and inspections that govern public food sales.

In response, federal and state regulators are seeking legal sanctions against farmers in Maine, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California, among others. These sanctions include injunctions, fines, and even prison sentences. Food sold by unlicensed and uninspected farmers is potentially dangerous say the regulators, since it can carry pathogens like salmonella, campylobacter, and E.coli O157:H7, leading to mild or even serious illness. Continue reading

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Raw milk legislation vetoed in Maine

From David E. Gumpert, on The Complete Patient blog:

“Any politician worth his or her salt is good at charades–you know, the game where you pretend you are something that you’re not.

Maine’s governor, Paul LePage, has given a masterful performance as a supporter of small farms since he was elected as a Republican in 2009. In September 2011, after receiving complaints from farmers about a crackdown by the state’s Department of Agriculture to end a decades-long tradition whereby Maine’s small farms were able to sell raw milk directly to friends and neighbors, without needing a dairy license, LePage wrote a memo questioning the crackdown. He expressed his support for legislation to restore the traditional practice.  (Dairies that want to advertise their raw milk, or sell via retail, need to obtain a license to sell raw milk.)

During the legislative session just ending now, the Maine legislature passed a version of the legislation he said he supported in his 2011 memo, to allow raw milk sales of up to twenty gallons daily for unlicensed dairies. And suddenly, the governor seemed to vacillate, and as Deborah Evans notes in a comment following my previous post, he vetoed the legislation.  Continue reading

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Blue Hills Maine Food Sovereignty ordinance tested in raw milk court case

From Mario Moretti, in the Bangor Daily News:

Dan Brown pets Sprocket, family’s four-year-old, sole milking cow, before hosing her down at family’s Gravel Wood Farm on the Blue Hill peninsula Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011. Dan Brown contends that he doesn’t need a license to sell raw, unpasteurized milk. State and federal regulators say otherwise. Click image to go to source. Photo: John Clarke Russ | BDN

“ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Blue Hill farmer has been ordered by Hancock County Superior Court to cease selling unlicensed, unlabeled raw milk from his farm stand in a decision that could set the scene for future challenges to local food rules that circumvent state law. Continue reading

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Maine towns’ food sovereignty laws to be tested in upcoming court case

From David E. Gumpert, on the Complete Patient blog:

“I’ve spent the last few days reading through the most recent filings in the Maine Food Sovereignty case.

If the potential importance of a food rights case could be measured in the heavy weight of the many pages of these initial arguments, this is a serious case. In this initial phase, each side has moved for summary judgment–that the judge in the case decide in its favor as a matter of law.   Continue reading

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Good cop, bad cop games in Maine

From David E. Gumpert on The Complete Patient blog:

“The  good-cop-bad-cop routine is one of the oldest in law enforcement. Talk  with me, goes the advice to the criminal suspect from the nice-guy cop, or I’ll  send in our junk yard dog, and you don’t want to deal with him. Lord knows what he’ll do to get you to cough up the real story, and he’ll make sure  you get a long jail sentence to boot.

Regulators  from the Maine Department of Agriculture have been playing the  good-cop-bad-cop game with proponents of Food Sovereignty, in an effort  to convince them to back off from their fight on behalf of Dan Brown,  the farmer who has been sued in a test case over whether the Food  Sovereignty ordinances passed by eight Maine towns (including his town  of Blue Hill)  are legal. At the same time, the Maine regulators work closely with the federal regulators and, as I suggested in Part 1 of this series, have even indicated a preference for the federal hard line on food rights over their own governor’s inclination toward compromise.  Continue reading

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Bureaucrats & FDA vs local sovereignty ordinances in Maine raw milk fight

From David E. Gumpert, on the Complete Patient blog:

“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. Continue reading

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