The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has become something like those obnoxious relatives many of us have, and whom we don’t want around, not just on Thanksgiving, but any time.  


In Minnesota’s Cook County, in the northeast part of the state, ever more of MDA’s equivalent of relatives are communicating that the agriculture regulators are not only not welcome, but should get the hell out of the area, and stay out. 


Cook County officials don’t like how the MDA is sticking its nose into the affairs of a long-established farm family— the Berglund family, which owns Lake View Natural Dairy, a producer of raw milk. The MDA, of course, hates raw milk, even though it is legal for farmers to sell it direct to consumers. The agency has been nosing around the Berglund farm, trying to figure out how to make life difficult for the dairy, even though there’s been not a hint of illness, or complaints or concerns. 


The MDA got off on the wrong foot last fall, when the local sheriff refused to help MDA agents serve contempt-of-court papers on Lake View Natural Dairy. 


Then last week a local judge, Michael Cuzzo, refused to enforce his own contempt-of-court order, denying the MDA’s request to conduct an inspection of Lake View Natural Dairy, for at least 90 days while he assesses the state constitutional issues raised by Berglund’s defense lawyer, Zena Baer. This came after the MDA’s lawyer had argued that the contempt order was the only legal issue deserving of attention. 


Now, the Cook County Board of Commissioners is considering a resolution that would tell the MDA that, no, it isn’t imagining that people don’t like the agency. They really just don’t like the MDA, and pretty much everything it stands for. On Tuesday, the county board will vote on whether to approve a statement of support for Lake View Natural Dairy that tells the MDA to “cease their unfounded and, therefore, unwarranted actions against David Berglund and Lake View Natural Dairy located in Grand Marais, MN.” 


The final resolution the commissioners passed on Tuesday was shorter than what they posted on their web site; the full text is contained in a comment I wrote, following this post. 


Supporters of the Berglund family are lobbying the county commissioners to vote their support of the resolution when they meet on Tuesday. “Some may not view that it is the commissioners’ place to make their voice heard in this debate,” writes Greg Gentz, a vocal area supporter of the Berglund family in its fight against the MDA.  “I say that this is the exact type of issue that is at the heart of the oath they took upon excepting their office!” 


Regardless of how the Tuesday vote turns out, the MDA’s dairy group may want to review the Dale Carnegie classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Maybe they can get their pals at the FDA to participate, and they can all get a quantity discount. After all, it’s getting pretty uncomfortable out there in the countryside the MDA patrols.