“Vernon Hershberger had a big week last week as his fight for small-farming independence has gained national attention. His schedule this week is packed, while the fight for raw milk supporters will reach the State Capitol building with a rally Feb. 22.
Despite a mandate from state court that inspections of his farm be allowed by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), Hershberger turned away three state officials at his farm Feb. 9. The refusal of access is in direct violation of the court order issued the week prior at a county hearing stating Hershberger must abide by the following, “No impeding, obstruction or interference with any Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) inspection.”
The bold move was captured on video and aired on YouTube.
The state Department of Justice has stated Hershberger cannot sell any food products without a proper license. He claims he is not a business, but rather a group-owned co-op. He says he is just the caretaker of the animals and the land on the farm west of Baraboo, Wis. The state also said he may not manufacture or process any dairy products, nor sell any without a proper license. The state said he also may not have anyone else operate his farm or work in any room or building on his property.
“Jackie Owens (of the DATCP) asked for permission to inspect the retail store, the barn and the milkhouse,” Hershberger said. “They called me on a speaker phone, and I told her that I could not give her permission because we do not have a license from them, therefore they lack jurisdiction to do something like that. After she tried in vain to explain that according to statutes, they do have jurisdiction, they left after about 15 minutes from the time of arrival. We do not know if they will come back with a warrant or not, but we do think that it is a good possibility that they are wanting more evidence for the case.”
Hershberger, who has been pondering whether to retain counsel, has made a choice to go without a lawyer.
“We did make a tough decision to kindly tell the lawyer Glen Reynolds that we will not use his services at this time,” Hershberger said. “I am sure that a lot of you can’t really see what we mean by doing it that way. With a lot of thought and prayer over the matter, we have decided that this is the way that the Lord wants us to go in order to bring out a message that rings almost as loud and clear as the liberty bells after the Revolutionary War.”
The raw milk and Hershberger co-op crusades have drawn the attention of national civil rights backers Sheriff Richard Mack and Indiana Sheriff Brad Rogers.
Mack, the former Arizona sheriff, will be attending a dinner for Hershberger Feb. 15. The dinner will feature Sheriff Mack’s talk about “The Power of the Sheriff in the Emerging Strife for Real Food and the constitutional oath that all public servants have taken.”
Mack is a retired sheriff from Arizona now living in Texas and running for the U.S. Senate. This will be his second visit to Wisconsin to back the small farmer. Although he says he doesn’t usually drink milk, Mack visited Madison, Wis., in 2010 to speak to raw-milk supporters at the State Capitol after state regulators raided Hershberger’s farm. It was then he drank his first glass of raw milk.
As a sheriff, Mack resisted an interim provision of the federal Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act that required him to conduct background checks. In a victory for states’ rights, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor.
“Sheriff Mack called and said he wants support in any way that he can. Also, Sheriff Brad Rogers called and agreed to get in contact with our sheriff, Chip Meister,” Hershberger said of his busy week. “It is a tough time to go through, but if we all stand together and with the mighty hand of God on our side, I am sure that we will prevail.”
Elkhart County Sheriff Rogers intervened on behalf of a farmer in his county, advising the Food and Drug Administration to stay away or risk arrest if the agency continued to harass raw milk farmer David Hochstetler….”