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Dairy farmer Dave Berglund of Lakeview Natural Dairy in Grand Marais has filed a petition with the Minnesota Supreme Court to hear his case after an appellate court ruled that the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) had jurisdiction to inspect his farm. In 2014 Berglund refused to let MDA officials with an administrative warrant search his farm which led to the state filing an action for contempt of court in refusing the inspection.
After initially ruling that Berglund was not in contempt for refusing the inspection, the Sixth Judicial District Court in Grand Marais ruled that MDA did have jurisdiction to inspect Berglund’s farm; the appellate court upheld the lower court decision on February 6, 2017.
Berglund sells, among other products, raw milk, raw butter, and raw yogurt direct-to-consumers at his farm store. The sale of raw milk is legal under Minnesota statute; the sale of raw butter and raw yogurt is not.
At the heart of the case is a provision in Article 13 Section 7 of the Minnesota Constitution stating, “Any person may sell or peddle the products of the farm or garden occupied and cultivated by him without obtaining a license therefor.” The Berglund case is a chance to revisit the Minnesota Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in State v. Hartmann. In that case, the state brought criminal charges against farmer Mike Hartmann for selling meat products without a license and for the unauthorized sale of custom-processed meat. In a close 4-3 decision, the court ruled that Hartmann could not sell custom-processed meat, holding that Article 13 Section 7 “exempts farmers from licensure but not from substantive regulations (such as inspection) of the production or sale of their farm products.” Minnesota statutes prohibited the sale of custom-processed meat.