Click here to help the Berglunds fight this assault on their (and your) property rights. A $5 donation goes a very long way to help pay their legal and other expenses during this long battle! Thank you.
If the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) gets its way, Lake View Natural Dairy Farm, owned and operated by David and Heidi Berglund and their daughter Lyndsay, will be fined $500 per day until they submit to an unconstitutional inspection of their farm.
When the farm briefly explored the possibility of selling milk for processing, this triggered a call to the MDA by the processor, and the MDA realized they had no record or control over this farm.
On October 14, 2014 the MDA demanded to do an inspection of the farm, which the family refused on the grounds that the Minnesota Constitution acknowledges their right to peddle the products of their farm. Now, the MDA hopes to fine the small operation a crippling $500 per day after the March 9, 2015 hearing if they are found to be in contempt.
Lake View Natural Dairy Farm, in the quaint town of Grand Marais, MN, has been a staple in the community for the past 100 years that it has been in the Berglund family. Currently, they provide raw milk and locally produced meats to their neighbors, visitors and tourists. The locals adore the farm, the family, and the products.
Many who vacation in Grand Marais for the summer months make the farm their first stop when they arrive in the town with a population of 1,300. Some customers drive over 200 miles from the twin cities for the products from Lake View Natural Dairy Farm.
In the spirit of a family farm operation, the senior Berglunds gave their daughter, Lyndsay, milking privileges 7 years ago, which she has wholeheartedly embraced. The farm boasts a herd of 85-100 dairy cows and beef cattle, laying hens, and pork products. Heidi Berglund makes the coveted yogurt and butter from the milk and provides baked goodies to round out the farm’s offerings.
True to its name, the farm sits on an ecologically stable piece of land overlooking Lake Superior. As a century-old staple in the community, the family is well respected and liked as providers of food to their neighbors. It is a disconnect that they are now being held in contempt of court for operating a farm and providing locally produced foods to their neighbors.
Customers of the farm are accustomed to conducting business completely on the honor system. A small cash box in the milking house is available for the community to leave cash for a gallon or two of milk true to the Minnesota Constitution saying that farmers have a right to peddle their products directly to the consumer.
What is this Really About?
For about two years now, the MDA has requested to do an inspection on the farm citing that the farm must pasteurize the milk prior to selling it. (For the full legal background on this, see David Gumpert’s excellent coverage.)
This raises the question, yet again, whether or not humans have the right to engage in peaceful, voluntary exchanges for the foods of their choice.
What the Berglunds are doing in providing food to their community is historically what built this country and continues to build communities. They are cultivating land for the purpose of feeding their neighbors. They are adding to the aesthetics of their region by keeping land in production. The Berglund family is lovingly growing community and nurturing bonds between community members.
Now, people who work for the MDA are assuming authority, deciding that they have the right to lord over this peaceful family and demand that the family conduct business in a new way that would, quite literally, put them out of business and steal a wonderful resource from the region.
Although the language of the state constitution is on the side of the farmers, the question here is one of justice.
- When is it okay to excessively fine a family for feeding their community?
- Who gets to decide what foods a farm can provide to their neighbors who are enthusiastic participants in the exchange?
- How does the MDA get to demand to inspect a family’s farming operation and demand that they change it?
- Why does the state agency have the assumed authority to interfere between a small farm and those eager to purchase from the farm?
If there is a law that has David Berglund in contempt of court for not allowing aggressive, subversive agents on his property, that law has no place in a peaceful American community.
This is NOT, and never has been, a safety issue. The farm under scrutiny has been providing their community with raw milk and other wholesome farm products including chickens, eggs, pork and beef without ever so much as a suspected illness since inception. The MDA’s demands, excessive fines and now its attempt to hold the family in contempt of court, take its authority out of context.
While the family and community suffer—as beautifully articulated by customer Greg Gentz—from not knowing how this will play out, the MDA continues its gratuitous approach of “compliance for the sake of compliance.”
How You Can Help the Berglunds
What does this farm family need? They need support at their hearing for contempt of court on March 9, 2015 with warm bodies in the courtroom. They need the support of their community by continuing to purchase their products.
The Berglunds need us to stand in unity with them nationally and recognize that it is not the place of government to interfere with the direct farmer-to-consumer relationship in peaceful, voluntary exchange for food.
If you are anywhere near Cook County Minnesota on March 9, please show up in quiet support of David and Heidi Berglund, and their daughter, Lyndsay, who have spent countless days lovingly caring for their animals and their community.
It is through your support that, as individuals, we can renormalize the relationship between food producer and food consumer understanding that there is nothing wrong, or even illegal, with a farmer feeding his community.
Ultimately, this case isn’t about milk or this particular farm; it is about whether strangers working for a state agency will control peaceful exchanges for food between happy neighbors or if the community members have the prerogative to make their own choices.
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Wherever you are in your personal journey toward clean living and local food, thank you for joining me in mine. I look forward to sharing it with you.