Attorneys for the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund lost twice in a single Wisconsin Court of Appeals decision handed down last week in Madison. Farm-to-Consumer attorneys Elizabeth G. Rich and David G. Cox represented two groups of plaintiffs that were both out to trim the regulatory authority of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection when it comes to raw milk. Assistant Attorney General Robert M. Hunter, who represented the department, won on both issues before the 4th District Appeals Court. The case decided by the court Aug. 7 has two parts because it resulted from the consolidation of two cases involving Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund plaintiffs. The combination of issues, however, did not result in the court offering any opinion on whether there is any right to purchase and drink unpasteurized milk in Wisconsin. Instead, the court decided a pair of narrower issues, and both decidedly went against raw milk interests in the Dairy State. For the part of the case known for the “Zinniker plaintiffs,” the appeals court upheld the department’s revocation of the license of a Walworth County raw milk dairy involved in a 2009 outbreak. The dairy then attempted to get around the license requirement with a limited liability corporation called “Nourished by Nature.” The department called that arrangement a “sham,” and Farm-to-Consumer filed the lawsuit. The 4th District Appeals Court decision agreed with the trial court, finding that the distribution of raw milk without a state producer’s license is a crime. “Even assuming that the members of Nourished by Nature have a right to consume unpasteurized milk, the Zinnikers do not have a legal right to operate a dairy farm as milk producers without a license,” the ruling stated. In the part of the decision involving the “GrassWay plaintiffs,” both the facts and outcome were similar. An organic farm store wanted to sell raw milk to members of an association who paid a fee to the store, but, under a producer’s license, the department said the store was not allowed to sell or distribute the product. The appeals court also said that scheme was not legal either. It’s not known whether the ruling will be appealed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. State agriculture officials said they are happy to have their licensing authority upheld. Last year, Wisconsin raw milk dairyman Vernon Hershberger was found not guilty by a Sauk County trial jury of three licensing violations. He was convicted on a fourth charge involving breaking seals on food the state had seized and lost an appeal on that charge. Rich and Cox have not said whether they will ask for U.S. Supreme Court review of the appeals court decision involving the Zinniker and/or the GrassWay plaintiffs. Rich told local media outlets that there is a “rift” between what people want and what both the judicial and executive branches of state government want when it comes to raw milk. The Farm-to-Consumer organization, based in Falls Church, VA, advocates “freedom of choice in food and agriculture.” Its annual “Food Freedom Fest” is coming up on Sept. 5-6, 2014, at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton, VA. The keynote speaker will be Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY), who sponsored two federal “Raw Milk Freedom” bills with bipartisan support.