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March 20, 2008

Yesterday, Judge Harry J. Tobias of the San Benito Superior Court in Hollister, California temporarily stayed the effect of AB 1735.  Ruling from the bench after nearly two hours of oral argument, Judge Tobias concluded that Organic Pastures Dairy Company LLC and Claravale Farm, Inc. would both be irreparably harmed if the coliform standard imposed by AB 1735 continued to remain in effect because existing testing data proves they cannot meet the standard.  In issuing the temporary restraining order, the Judge ...continue

March 10, 2008

Meadowsweet Dairy LLC and Steve and Barbara Smith won a victory today against New York's Department of Agriculture and Markets.  In a decision issued by Albany County Supreme Court Judge John C. Egan Jr., the Court found that it made no sense to proceed on the Department's contempt action if indeed the Smiths and Meadowsweet are not regulated by New York's Agriculture and Market Laws (A&ML).  "If the A&ML does not govern the respondents' activities, then the respondents cannot be held in contempt for failing to comply with the warrant issued pursuant to the A&ML" Judge Egan stated in his decision.

The contempt proceeding stems from a search warrant that was...continue

March 4, 2008

Today, the Legal  Defense Fund successfully got the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to admit that it had erroneously enforced the law against a pet food producer in that State.  Stemming from a February 23rd incident, the DACS issued a "stop sale" order to The Dancing Goat, alleging that the farm was illegally selling pet food and eggs at a local farmers' market.  However, The Dancing Goat was a licensed commercial feed operator which meant that it could legally sell pet food, and The Dancing Goat was also the producer of the eggs that were being sold at the farmers' market which meant that it could package and distribute them.  All of the Goat's products were clearly stamped as "not for human consumption, pet food only" and the Goat even had a copy of its commercial feed license with it at the market.  "I'm glad that the DACS representative was reasonable and agreed that their inspectors had goofed" said Fund attorney Gary Cox.  "It's nice to get these regulators to recognize the errors of their ways once in a while" said Cox.  The DACS representative stated that the stop sale order had been released and that it would not go on the record of The Dancing Goat.  For a copy of the letter sent by Cox to DACS see this link.

Per Fund Attorney and Board Member Steve Bemis Reports - The Fund was asked two weeks before trial to help a farmer who had been representing himself in a criminal matter related to the unlicensed sale of value-added food products. A Fund attorney was able to negotiate a 50% fine reduction without a trial.

Georgia - GDA Drops Proposed Rule Requiring Dye in Pet Milk - A press release issued this afternoon, Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irwin announced that he is dropping the proposed rule amendment that would require a dye be added to raw milk sold as pet food. The announcement came shortly after a pre-hearing on the proposed rule (and other rule changes to the Georgia Feed Code) was held at the State Farmers Market in Atlanta. Approximately fifty people spoke at the hearing; every speaker opposed the dye. Many of the speakers were pet owners who promised they would be buying pet milk in South Carolina if the proposed rule were adopted.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) received nearly two hundred letters opposing the dye. GDA claimed it proposed the rule on the dye "to prevent any confusion between milk sold for human consumption with that sold for animal consumption." With opposition to the dye, GDA decided to concentrate on amending the labeling rules to make the distinction for the consumer. A final hearing on the remaining amendments to the Georgia Feed Code will probably be held sometime in the next month before their adoption as rules by GDA. Check the GDA website for scheduling.

There was talk after the hearing among opponents of the dye to revive a failed 2005 effort to pass a bill legalizing raw milk for human consumption. Raw milk for human consumption has been is illegal in the state since 1980. Congratulations to the producers and consumers successfully opposing the rule, especially to those who are members of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

Herdshares are now legal in Ohio - Judge Jonathan P. Hein of Ohio's Darke County Court of Common Pleas ruled in favor of Carol Schmitmeyer, a dairy farmer who operates a herdshare with over 100 shareholders. Judge Hein's decision vacated an earlier decision by Ohio's former Director of Agriculture that she was illegally "selling" raw milk. For a more complete discussion of the Court's opinion click here.