A judge is moving to the appellate level a case brought against a Wisconsin man by government officials demanding he provide names of friends who may buy or sell raw milk.
The threat against raw-milk activist Max Kane had been the possibility of being ruled in contempt of court for his refusal to provide the information to authorities, according to a report from an advocacy organization.
The dispute over the sale of raw milk by farmers directly to consumers has erupted in several locations in recent months in the United States and Canada. Proponents argue raw milk is healthier, and since it usually is a direct producer-to-consumer transaction the government has no interest in those deals.
Governments argue they do.
Now, according to a report from the Weston A. Price Foundation, which advocates for raw-milk farmers and consumers, Judge Michael Rosenborough denied a motion by the state of Wisconsin to compel Kane to reveal the names of farmers and consumers he believes could be producing or purchasing raw milk.
The report said Kane has lived since December under a court order to deliver the names to the state’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. A month ago, Kane, helped by attorney Elizabeth Rich, requested a stay of the order in the Vernon County Court in Viroqua, Wis., to take the case to appeal.
The judge now has agreed.
Already, on four occasions, state attorneys have tried to extract the names from Kane. The issue is that while “incidental” sales of milk from farmers to consumers are legal in Wisconsin, the agency has decided that an “incidental” sale is one time, making any customer and farmer who agreed to a second transaction in violation of the law.
Kane’s appeal currently is pending.
The Weston A. Price Foundation, which is among the nonprofits that educate consumers about more natural food-production methods, said demand for such products is growing.
“Raw milk … is a supremely healthy food that should be available to those who want it,” said Sally Fallon Morell, president of the foundation.
WND reported earlier when U.S. Food and Drug Administration agents demanded to inspect a Pennsylvania farm described by its owner as private, arguing, “You have cows. You produce food for human consumption.”
The confrontation developed at a farm near Kinzers, Pa., belonging to Amish farmer Dan Allgyer.
According to a report from the National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association, agents Joshua Schafer and Deborah Haney drove past a “No Trespassing” sign and informed Allgyer they were there to inspect his farm.
Allgyer confirmed his was a private farm.
Weeks earlier there was a court victory in Canada in which Michael Schmidt was found not guilty of accusations he sold raw milk to members of a cow-sharing consortium.
According to natural-foods blogger Kimberly Hartke, the judge “found that Michael had done his due diligence, developed a proper contract, and that everyone was informed. The judge went on to say that Michael met a need for the people.”
And in a previous U.S. case, Mennonite farmer Mark Nolt of Maryland had his farm raided by SWAT-type agents. He was fined more than $4,000 and had his equipment confiscated for providing raw – or unpasteurized – milk to participants in his program.