Who screams for ice cream? We all scream for ice cream—especially artisan goat milk gelato, made in small batches by Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) member Lisa Black. Lisa’s Agriculture Department inspector was screaming, too, but not in a good way. He was under the mistaken impression that her gelato had to be pasteurized twice: once at the beginning and once again after a certain ingredient was added.
The Department inspector was wrong. Not only that, he insisted that Lisa needed a very expensive piece of equipment for the second pasteurization. Purchasing this equipment would have bankrupted Lisa.
Lisa knew that she was right. She referenced Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and State regulations to show the inspector that she complied with all of the rules. He was unpersuaded. Lisa then sent a detailed email to his supervisor. She included the pertinent law, and explained that the inspector was wrong.
Instead of realizing their mistake and correcting it, the Department doubled down. They referred her to another FDA regulation that was irrelevant to her situation, sent agents to the grocery stores carrying her product, and embargoed her gelato.
Lisa called FTCLDF. One of our attorneys was going to be in Lisa’s state on another matter, so she offered to attend the meeting that Lisa had set up with the Department. The FTCLDF attorney sent an email to the Department officials, indicating that she would be in attendance with Lisa.
The Department’s tenor changed. At the meeting, they reinstated Lisa’s production license, called the field agents to go back to the grocery stores and release the embargo, and offered to send Lisa’s license via FedEx. Lisa was back in business.
What did the FTCLDF attorney do? She wrote a brief email, and showed up at a meeting. Lisa had already done the legwork. Lisa had educated herself on the relevant law, conveyed this information in a clear manner to the Department, and advocated for herself.
And this is why we need FTCLDF. Sometimes, all it takes is the presence of an attorney to make government officials understand that our farmers will not be bullied. Our farmers are smart, and they know the law. But as long as the big guys think that the little guys have no leverage, the big guys are going to take advantage of the situation.
FTCLDF attorneys are that leverage.
YOUR FUND AT WORK
Services provided by FTCLDF go beyond legal representation for members in court cases.
Educational and policy work also provide an avenue for FTCLDF to build grassroots activism to create the most favorable regulatory climate possible. In addition to advising on bill language, FTCLDF supports favorable legislation via action alerts and social media outreach.
You can help FTCLDF by becoming a member or donating today.