There’s been chatter about Dane County (Wisconsin) Judge Patrick J. Fiedler’s recent decision in cases 09-CV-6313 and 10-CV-3884. Details are sadly lacking, but it appears that the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (http://datcp.wi.gov/) went after dairy Nourished By Nature LLC for selling unpasteurized milk; Nourished By Nature offered the defense that it isn’t a dairy, it’s a herdshare, so it doesn’t have to pasteurize its milk.
It’s a legal dodge whereby a dairy sells shares in its herd of cows, then contracts with shareholders to board the cows & deliver their milk (unpasteurized) to the shareholders. Since it’s not a dairy, it doesn’t have to obey the laws & regulations that apply to dairies.
The DATCP didn’t buy it, and – apparently – neither did Judge Fiedler:
Finally, it is clear from their motion to clarify that the Plaintiffs still fail to recognize that they are not merely attempting to enforce their “right” to own a cow and board it at a farm. Instead, Plaintiffs operate a dairy farm. (Emphasis added.) As this court already said in its decision and order, if Plaintiffs want to continue to operate their dairy farm then they must do so in a way that complies with the laws of Wisconsin.
The articles I’ve read are full of sound & fury about the government’s infringement of citizens’ fundamental property rights, which completely misses the point. Calling it a herdshare doesn’t make it any less a dairy, and doesn’t grant exemption from the law.
(Reading court decisions has been a hobby of mine for the last few years. One thing I’ve learned is that a judge’s opinion is very carefully & precisely written. It’s unfortunate that journalists so often mangle the opinion’s meticulous reasoning and narrow conclusions when writing about it; but outrage sells more newspapers than understanding.)