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Authors

Ryan Almy

Abstract

For many of us, adding a little milk to our morning coffee is likely one of the more insignificant tasks of the day. For Dan Brown of Blue Hill, Maine, that splash of dairy in his coffee mug is the result of his personal labor and constant, meticulous attention paid to the health and well-being of a single 1,000 pound mammal. Besides fresh raw milk, what does Brown gain from his efforts? He knows the exact source of the milk he puts in his coffee, as well as the butter his daughter spreads on her toast: Sprocket, Brown’s sole dairy cow. However, Sprocket has garnered Brown some wanted attention recently, earning her a new moniker: “Troublemaker.” Whatever dairy Sprocket produces that does not end up in Brown’s family’s coffee or cereal, Dan Brown offers for sale directly from his farm, Gravelwood Farm, or at local farmers’ markets in towns of Blue Hill and nearby Ellsworth. These sales, “which net Brown roughly $8," gained the attention of the Maine Department of Agriculture (“the Department”). The Department, noting that Brown was not properly licensed as either a milk distributor or food establishment, advised him that he was not in compliance with state law and demanded that he cease the sale of all food products until he complied with licensing requirements, or otherwise face legal action. Furthermore, having previously taken samples from Brown’s raw whole milk, butter, and cottage cheese, the Department claimed that his dairy products “failed to meet established standards for quality and safety,” and that Brown was “exposing consumers to serious health risks.” Despite these demands and threats of legal action, Brown continued to sell his food products without a Department license recognizing him as an authorized distributor or food establishment.

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