A Cook County farmer will appear in State District Court in Grand Marais on Monday, defending his refusal to allow a state inspection he doesn't want and contends his farm doesn't need.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is seeking to have the court fine the farmer, David Berglund, $500 per day until he complies with the inspection order for his farm, Lake View Natural Dairy.
Berglund first squared off with the agriculture department last October, after officials with the agency learned of his farm and that he'd been selling raw milk and other raw milk products directly to customers who visit the dairy.
Since then, citing a more than 100-year-old passage in the Minnesota Constitution that allows a person to peddle products of their farm without a license, Berglund has refused to allow inspectors onto his property.
The Cook County Sheriff's Office is caught in the middle, having been asked to assist in the enforcement of the inspection process. It has maintained that it will not get involved until it is compelled to do so.
"Right now it's a civil action, and we're going to remain neutral," Sheriff Pat Eliasen said.
The case is drawing a growing measure of regional and national attention for its converging issues including individual rights and organic farming. Berglund is not commenting to the media, but his attorney Zenas Baer explained the fertile legal territory into which the case has treaded.
"It's the fundamental right of us as citizens to engage in a private transaction without having the nanny state peering over our shoulder saying, 'Thou shalt not do this,' " Baer said.
According to documents filed by Baer with the court, the Berglund farm is more than 100 years old, having been started by Berglund's forebearers, who immigrated from Sweden. Located on Cook County Road 56, off the Gunflint Trail northeast of Grand Marais, it features 75-80 head of cattle and some pigs and chickens on more than 700 acres, some owned by Berglund and some leased. The farm sells raw milk, cream, skim milk, butter, yogurt, beef and eggs to customers who visit the farm.