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Judge tosses suit on raw-milk ban

A judge yesterday threw out a dairy farmer’s lawsuit challenging a state ban on “cow-sharing” agreements aimed at skirting a prohibition on retail sales of raw milk.

Kevin Oyarzo of Buckeystown had sought to let people buy into his herd and receive unpasteurized milk in return. Some states, including Virginia, allow such arrangements to help meet a growing demand for raw milk.

Frederick County Circuit Judge Julie Stevenson Solt rejected Mr. Oyarzo’s argument that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene acted improperly by issuing emergency regulations prohibiting cow-sharing after he told the agency of his plans last summer.

Public health regulators say raw milk can contain harmful pathogens that are killed during pasteurization. Raw-milk proponents say the heat of pasteurization also kills healthful components in milk and degrades the flavor.

Mr. Oyarzo’s attorney, Paul Walter, declined to comment on the ruling, saying he needed to first read it and then consult with his client.

At a hearing last month, Assistant Attorney General Lisa Barkin said cow-sharing deals are “sham agreements” designed to circumvent the 35-year-old sales ban.

Mr. Walter acknowledged during the hearing that Mr. Oyarzo’s plan was “possibly an avoidance” of the state law, but he said the new regulation amounts to an illegal ban not just on sales, but consumption, of raw milk.Twenty-eight states allow sales of raw milk for human consumption, according to the Washington-based Weston A. Price Foundation, a natural-foods advocacy group.

BELTSVILLE

Police chase ends in fatal crash

A police chase early yesterday ended with a crash that killed the driver.

Authorities said an officer saw two men get out of a minivan and go into a convenience store and thought the men looked like they were casing the store.

Police said the minivan’s driver noticed the officer and pulled away from the store without turning on his lights.

The officer followed the minivan, which lost control and hit a tree. The driver was dead at the scene.

Police were searching for the other two men.

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