The Institute for Justice filed a major lawsuit today against the city of Lake Elmo, Minnesota, which currently forbids local farmers from selling produce grown on their own land if that land happens to fall outside of the city limits. As family farmer and lead plaintiff Keith Bergmann explains in Minnesota's Pioneer Press:
For over 60 years, my family has lived and farmed in Lake Elmo. We run a small farm and greenhouse called Country Sun Farm. On our farm we sell flowers and plants grown on-site, pumpkins grown on the farm and elsewhere, and Christmas trees grown in other states. Maybe some of you have seen our farm along Highway 36 on your way to view the fall colors in Stillwater. We're the place on the south side of the road with a giant pumpkin, petting zoo, and haunted house filled with kids and families enjoying a wonderful fall day.
Unfortunately, our farm is in jeopardy. In December, Lake Elmo arbitrarily decided that most of the pumpkins we sell in the fall, and the Christmas trees we sell in December, are illegal. The city says these products must be grown within the city limits of our small town to promote the town's rural character. It did this even though we have grown pumpkins outside of Lake Elmo, purchased Christmas trees from growers outside of Lake Elmo, and sold both products at our establishment for over 25 years. This rule just hurts farms like ours. It does not make sense.
To stop this outrage we are joining with fellow family farmers from Nebraska, North Carolina, and Wisconsin who have sold us pumpkins and Christmas trees over the years. Represented by the Institute for Justice Minnesota Chapter, we will file a federal lawsuit today because what the city is doing violates our constitutional right to participate in interstate commercial markets. We should be able to sell produce in Minnesota that we grow in Wisconsin. We should also be able to trade with farmers in other states.
For more on the case, check out the video below: