Raw Milk Producer Sues Oregon Ag Dept. Over Advertising Ban

Posted November 22, 2013

An Oregon dairy owner recently filed a lawsuit in federal court against the state Department of Agriculture, challenging its ban on advertising the sale of raw milk, according to a Capital Press article available here.

Christine Anderson, owner of Cast Iron Farms, filed a lawsuit on November 19 in U.S. District Court in Portland, seeking to invalidate the advertising ban, arguing that the law violates her free speech rights and is unconstitutionally vague. 

Oregon law, ORS § 621.116, does not allow retail raw milk sales, but provides an exception, ORS § 621.012, for “farmers with a limited number of animals to sell unpasteurized milk directly to consumers on-site,” according an article by the Oregonian available here.  In addition, the law bans any advertising including website postings, fliers, and emails. 

“Raw milk is legal to sell but you can’t talk about it,” Anderson said.  “I work really hard, and I do a good job as a producer.  I want to be able to talk about it.  I would like to go about my small business without a lot of fear that what I’m doing can be construed as breaking the law.”

Bruce Pokarney, Oregon Department of Agriculture spokesman, said that agriculture officials did not enact the law but are responsible for enforcing it.  Pokarney also said that raw milk was not a department priority, “We haven’t gone out an looked for anybody who’s advertising raw milk…But if we become aware of it…we’ll respond to somebody’s complaint.”

For more information on raw milk and local food systems, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.