A very unfortunate email has gone out claiming that raw milk is no longer available in California. This is completely untrue and has caused a lot of fear and confusion.
RAW MILK IS STILL LEGAL AND AVAILABLE IN CALIFORNIA. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has the choice to not enforce AB 1735, which severely limits the levels of coliform (beneficial bacteria) in raw milk; the bill may be rescinded by legislation early this year; and the governor has the option of signing a proclamation negating the bill. A great deal of work is going on behind the scenes to get rid of AB 1735 one way or another.
Meanwhile, the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund has filed suit on behalf of Claravale Farm, Inc. and Organic Pastures Dairy Company, LLC against the State of California and its Department of Food and Agriculture. The suit challenges the constitutionality of AB 1735, characterized as a “sneak attack” on raw milk. The complaint claims the statute violates due process, equal protection and constitutes a regulatory takings (a regulation is so burdensome that all economic use of one’s land has been taken away). The complaint seeks a permanent injunction that prohibits the enforcement of AB 1735 until it is either rescinded or ruled unconstitutional.
The Legal Defense Fund did not couple its complaint with a motion for preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order because its complaint was filed before the statute went into effect. Because AB 1735 will not be effective until January 1, 2008, seeking relief in the form of a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction would be dismissed as not ripe for review.
Contrary to erroneous claims made by misleading email referred to above, the Fund is prepared to seek preliminary injunctive relief if the State chooses to enforce the law against either Claravale Farm or Organic Pastures.
If the State decides not to enforce the law, and allows the legislative process to take its course, these farmers are protected and can go about their business as usual. Consequently, the Fund’s reasoned, methodic approach in this matter has prevented waste of time, money and judicial resources.
If necessary, however, the Fund is ready and armed to file for a preliminary injunction.
We will keep you posted on updates to the California raw milk situation as they become available.