A Minnesota district court is making sure that nothing is standing in the way of dairy farmer David Berglund’s test to see whether the state constitution’s “right to peddle” is enough to shield his raw milk sales from state regulation. Berglund’s attorney, Zenas Baer, says it may be months before the Minnesota District Court for Cook County gives his client an answer, but in the meantime he need not worry about any pesky fines or inspections by the state Department of Agriculture. Nor does Berglund need to be concerned about being held in contempt of court.cookMNcourt_406x250 There will be none of that because a state constitutional issue is being decided. State Judge Michael Cuzzo will determine what the more than 100-year-old Section 7 of the Minnesota State Constitution means. Berglund, whose family has been on the same Cook County farm since immigrating from Sweden in the 1880s, thinks the plain language in the state constitution is pretty clear. It reads: “No license required to peddle. Any person may sell or peddle the products of the farm or garden occupied and cultivated by him without obtaining a license therefor.” The way Berglund sees it, that language in the state constitution means he doesn’t need a license or any of those tag-along inspections that go with it to sell products from his 700-acre farm northeast of Grand Marais, including raw milk and raw milk products. With the judge’s preliminary rulings all going against it, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is no longer talking about the case that stems from October 2014 when Berglund’s raw milk business came to its attention. Most dairy farms in Minnesota get an unannounced state inspection twice a year. About 93 percent are licensed and inspected as Grade A facilities, able to sell their milk for any purpose. The remainder are Grade B farms approved for more limited uses, such as cheese, ice cream and butter. Minnesota, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), prohibits the sale of raw dairy with the exception of “milk, cream, skim milk, goat milk, or sheep milk occasionally secured or purchased for personal use by any consumer at the place or farm where the milk is produced.” A new NCSL report states that Minnesota farmers cannot advertise and customers must bring their own containers. The state interprets “occasionally secured or purchased for personal use” to mean that farmers cannot sell raw milk to regular customers on a routine basis. Until the current challenge, NCSL noted that Michigan’s “right to peddle” was thought to involve only sales on the farm and at farmers markets. Berglund’s Lake View Natural Dairy in Grand Marais, MN, “peddles” raw milk, cream, skim milk, butter, yogurt, beef, and eggs. The milk is not grade A or B, which is why Berglund argues that those MDA rules don’t apply. If the judge wanted to force compliance, he could have imposed fines of up to $500 a day. He opted not to do that by taking contempt of court off the table so the case can run its course. Before the judge’s rulings earlier this month, the local sheriff let MDA know that his deputies would not be available to provide back-up during any enforcement activities. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)