The Maine Department of Agriculture is suing a Down East farmer for selling unpasteurized milk without a license. It's the latest development in a growing regulatory battle between the state and towns advocating for the right to sell local products.
The department sued Dan Brown of Gravelwood Farm in Blue Hill for selling what's known as raw milk despite warnings from inspectors to cease the practice, according to the Bangor Daily News. Commissioner Walter Whitcomb told the paper that people in the area contacted inspectors over potential health concerns of selling unpasteurized milk. Blue Hill is one of five Maine towns that have adopted "food sovereignty" ordinances, which allow local farmers and producers to sell their products within town boundaries without licenses or inspections. Whitcomb said the ordinances won't be recognized by state and federal governments. Brown, however, argues that selling his unpasteurized milk without a license or labels stating the health dangers does not violate state laws. Inspectors who purchased milk and cottage cheese from Brown in July found the samples contained bacteria counts 10 to 15 times higher than the legal limit, the paper reported.
Meanwhile, the city of Portland is considering allowing the sale of raw milk at its farmers' markets as long as consumer warnings are provided, according to the Portland Press Herald. The city has previously banned the sale of raw milk at farmers' markets. The city council will vote on the measure next month.