Heroism, a uniquely human trait — the Vernon Herschberger raw milk story

From the “Free the Animal” blog:

Raw milk farmers Michael Schmidt and Vernon Herschberger, in January 2011

“….Here’s a few select quotes from the previously linked post at Natural Food.

The DATCP brought in the armed deputies for 6 hours to lock it up and take evidence. That does not stop Vernon.

“This is how I make a living,” Vernon Hershberger, a Loganville dairy farmer, said Thursday morning. “We are going to go right ahead and do business.”

Hershberger said roughly 100 families, including some Madison customers, purchase raw milk, yogurt, cheese, butter and ice cream from a store on his farm that is open for business Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Now pay attention here. He’s not just going to continue on in defiance. There’s more, but first:

The raid team took product samples for chemical and biological laboratory analysis. The raid team also went to the large dairy tank of fresh, farm certified organic wholesome milk and intentionally contaminated it. They dropped a blue dye in it such that it turns all the milk blue. It is not saleable or drinkable.

So they take more “evidence” and wantonly destroy his property; actually, the very self-produced whole food he and his nine children consume. And next…

After they left, Vernon and about two dozen friends, families and customers who arrived in ten cars during the six hour raid—BROKE THE SEALS (another criminal offense)—so that they could get to their milk, cream, butter, ice cream, yogurt and other products—that they produced and owned and needed so that their families can live and is required to maintain robust health and energy.

And now here, in particular, we come to Mr. Hershberger’s uncommon courage & heroism. Is is because he defied the law? In part, yes, but there’s way, way more to it than that — something I might refer to as a “golden helmet of moral righteousness.”

I asked Vernon if it would be OK to report his crime in the Journal for all to see: that he defied the orders of the State by BREAKING THE SEALS of state evidence—so that they could get to their food needed to live. “No problem, go right ahead and tell”, he told me. “We have no other choice but to break the seals and take our food”.

This is the heart of a concept I’ll address in a minute, but note: he has no intention of not fully facing up to the legal consequences of his actions. In fact, he’s giving the green light to be reported.

The raid team also demanded computers and customer lists and business records. Between the time the health department showed up and when the deputies came with the warrant to search and seize, Vernon and his family took the computer drive and records and hid them in an undisclosed off-site location. I made doubly sure it would be OK to report this here and to the DATCP and county officials who will be reading this—and Vernon said it would be OK to report this. (It is as if it is an invitation to the State to come and play hide and seek. The customer and supplier lists are then used to interrogate and request surveys of them as to further widen the witch hunt—as in Minnesota).

Well so far, I’d say that an ambitious prosecutor might be able to get another notch towards a career promotion by putting Mr. Hershberger in a locked-away status from his nine children for an awfully long time. These are “serious crimes” — not to mention: selling raw milk from his own family farm.

And now, turning to the local news story previously linked…

…Now that the law is not on his side, he doesn’t know what to do.

“Entering into a form of civil disobedience or going out of business,” he said. “This is all we do. This is to support our family. This is to support our farm. We have a debt to pay off and everything that goes with it.”

If you ever get a chance to study Civil Disobedience, you of course begin with Henry David Thoreau, who held that there are three choices with respect to laws: obey them, amend them, or transgress them.

“Under a government that imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison.”

A continuing study in civil disobedience might include Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Paramount are three principles:…”

Read it all on “Free the Animal”.

Earlier posts on the subject:

Raw Milk: Wisconsin v. Herschberger

Continuing Raw Milk Production a Matter of Conscience

Vernon says Michael Schmidt’s example inspired him

Michael Schmidt in Wisconsin for BD conference Jan 25, 2011

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Heroism, a uniquely human trait — the Vernon Herschberger raw milk story

  1. nedlud

    Thank you Vernon Herschberger.

    I honestly believed when I started farming in 1980, and deliberately defied the ‘conventional wisdom’, ie., the government and industry dictated rules and regulations; the all-invasive management team that existed already back then and the supposed efficiencies and upgrades and improvements and so-called science-based knowledge they represented, there would be more like him, and me.

    I couldn’t have been more wrong.

    Well, maybe there’s still time to rally around people like me and Vernon. And Michael Schmidt and a few others.

    And maybe not.

  2. Pingback: raw milk and defining government relationships « JRFibonacci's blog: partnering with reality

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