Shawnee County District Court approves settlement resolving raw milk lawsuit
The Shawnee County District Court has approved a settlement resolving a lawsuit that challenged a Kansas law regulating the advertisement of raw milk, Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Agriculture Secretary Mike Beam said Wednesday.
Under the terms of the settlement, the parties agree the advertising ban violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights Section 11 and is therefore unenforceable. The statute was enacted in 1967, before the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted the First Amendment to protect commercial speech in the manner it does today.
The Department of Agriculture intends to propose legislation next year regarding the uniform labeling of raw milk products, which would address the constitutionally defective regulation of advertising at issue in this case.
“We look forward to the opportunity to clarify this statute and remove the unconstitutional restriction on advertisement of raw milk,” Beam said. “The on-farm sale of raw, unpasteurized milk continues to be the only allowable method of distribution for raw milk, as a means of protecting public health and safety due to the high degree of risk associated with unpasteurized dairy products.”
The statute in question is currently codified at K.S.A. 65-771(cc). The specific provision in question, which dates back to 1967, reads: “…so long as the person making such sales does not promote the sale of milk or milk products to the public in any manner other than by the erection of a sign upon the premises of the dairy farm.” The statute makes violation of the advertising prohibition a misdemeanor.
A copy of the consent judgment is available at https://bit.ly/32sY6fK.