Dan Brown

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This article is part of the Food Rights Network, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy. Find out more here.

Dan Brown is a farmer at Gravelwood Farm in Blue Hill, Maine. On November 9th, 2011, Brown "was served notice that he is being sued by the State of Maine and Walter Whitcomb, Maine Agricultural Commissioner, for selling food and milk without state licenses.[1]

"Blue Hill is one of five Maine towns to have passed the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance, a local law that permits the types of sales Brown was engaged in. By filing the lawsuit, the State of Maine and Whitcomb are disregarding the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance passed nearly unanimously by the citizens of Blue Hill at their town meeting on April 4."[1]

Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance

These Local Food and Self-Governance Ordinances, first drafted in Hancock County, Maine, are town ordinances establishing local food governance in response to increased federal regulation via the "Food Safety Modernization Act."[2] Residents who drafted the ordinances in 2010 and 2011 feared that the new law, which President Obama signed on January 4th, 2011, could shut down cottage producers of jam and pickles made from backyard garden produce and church pot lucks without these local ordinances to protect them.[3][4]

Accusations Against Dan Brown

The lawsuit against Brown, filed in Maine Superior Court on November 3rd, 2011, "accuses Brown of selling milk without a distributor’s license, selling unpasteurized milk without a label declaring it as such, and selling food without a license."[5]

Brown milks one cow and sells the milk that is left after his and his family's needs are filled. There are no reported illnesses among his customers. According to Brown, the state claims in the suit that they took a sample of his milk and that it tested positive for coliform, but the only time he ever saw an inspector on his farm was when one stopped by to drop off a packet of information. He claims he was not informed of the test at the time the sample was taken, nor of its results until he received the notice of the lawsuit.[6]

The State's lawsuit claims that, "on July 26, 2011, an inspector from the Department [of Agriculture] . . . took samples of milk, cottage cheese and butter from the farm stand for laboratory testing" and that the samples "were tested by the Maine Milk Quality Laboratory and were found to be in violation of the standard for milk and milk products under the Department's rules. "[7]

Rally in Support of Dan Brown

A rally and press conference took place on the steps of Town Hall in Blue Hill, Maine, on November 18th, 2011. Speakers included Farmer Dan Brown of Gravelwood Farm in Blue Hill, Farmer Heather Redburg of Quill's End Farm in Penobscot and Jeff Beyea, who was Walter Whitcomb's herdsman for over a year. Beyea said that Whitcomb had sold raw milk from his herd from his farm before becoming Agriculture Commissioner.[8]

Jeff Beyea Speaks at Rally in Support of Dan Brown

Videos of Dan Brown's speech and Heather Redburg's speech are also available from the "Local Food Local Rules" website.


Other SourceWatch Articles

PRWatch Articles

External Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 Local Food Local Rules, Blue Hill Maine Farmer Being Sued by State of Maine, media advisory, November 14, 2011
  2. Rich Hewitt, Farmers seek to protect locally grown foods, Bangor Daily News, February 24, 2011
  3. Deirdre Fulton, Free our food, Portland Phoenix, May 4, 2011
  4. Kyle Curtis, Keeping the Church Potluck Legal and Free: Will the "Food Sovereignty" Movement Take Hold in Oregon?, BlueOregon, April 24, 2011
  5. Kevin Miller, State sues Blue Hill farmer for selling unpasteurized milk at farmers’ markets, Bangor Daily News, November 16, 2011
  6. Dan Brown, Rally 1: Farmer Brown Speaks!, speech at rally in support of Farmer Brown in Blue Hill, Maine, November 18, 2011
  7. State of Maine, Notice of Summons, state lawsuit against defendant Dan Brown, November 3, 2011
  8. Local Food Local Rules, Jeff Beyea Ripes Walt Whitcomb a New One, speech recorded at rally in support of Farmer Dan Brown in Blue Hill, Maine, November 18, 2011