Politics and Activism
by Raoul Bedi of the Vedic Harmony Centre (www.canadafoodsecurity.info)
In the first interview published last week we focused briefly on Vernon’s background but mainly on his “Sources of inspiration and role models “. The same day the interview was published it mentioned a new donations website (details at the end of the interview) which was coincidentally launched to not only help Vernon with his legal expenses but also to charitably support his family through these challenging times . Thanks to the generous support of THE BOVINE and its readers , the readers of Kimberley Hartke’s wonderful blog, http://www.hartkeisonline.com , and a few others , the amount pledged has already reached $2401 from 62 different individuals/organizations as of Tuesday, March 6, 2012 .
C: Politics and Law
Photo: Vernon Hershberger shown signing the Declaration of Food Independence on March 2, 2012
1. Question: To help provide a geographical context to our readers : Wisconsin is the only Great Lakes State (on the US side) to ban legal Raw Milk sales . Of the 20 neighbouring states only IOWA has similar requirements. With regards to the raw milk accessibility question why is there a disproportionate level of regulatory inflexibility, intolerance and overall harshness in the state of Wisconsin ?
Vernon Hershberger : The way it appears to me is that Wisconsin has such a strong dairy industry who in turn have lobbyists to control the markets and to keep any other laws out of the books. Also it appears that the State agencies are accepting funds from the FDA to aid them in shutting down the local foods movements.
b) Question: What exactly does it mean when they say the “Wisconsin Government allows INCIDENTAL raw milk sales ? ” – either they allow it or they do not ?
Vernon: That law as I understand was implemented in 1957 with an allowance of “incidental sales”. The Wisconsin Agriculture Department has continually been changing the definition of incidental sales. The definition that they are going with at this time is: A once a year sale of a gallon or two of milk to a specific person that was not advertised. We feel the definition at the time of the (original) implemention of the law was a lot broader in it’s interpretation. I am very positive that back in 1957 they (the Wisconsin government ) would have had a very big problem on their hands had they enforced the law so strictly.
The definition should more clearly be defined so as to allow sales to private individuals. The (overall dairy) license would allow sales to the licensed processing plants and the incidental sales clause would take care of sales to individuals.
2a) Question: Are you working with a lawyer or defending yourself?
Vernon : No .
2.b) Question : Would you except legal assistance if it was sponsored or “donated” by a friendly group or organization ?
I would be very skeptical due to the fact that any lawyer, regardless of how good a person he/she actually is, has a great difficulty to (properly) argue (for) the constitution since they are licensed by the BAR Association.
3. Question : Realistically speaking , what would you like to see happen on the Wisconsin State government side with regard to your situation and the overall raw milk accessibility issue
i) Short Term i.e In the coming year :
Vernon: That the farmers and the local food movement be left alone.
ii) Medium Term i.e 2-6 years :
V: That the state agencies move back to implementing the constitution and are subject to the oath of office that they are required to take
iii) Long Term 6 years plus:
Vernon: Similar to (ii)
b) Question : Some of my colleagues with herdshares in Canada have expressed to me that they are not interested to see retail raw milk sales in regular supermarkets. They are content to work for “Grass-fed” raw milk to be available either through Buying Clubs, Herdshares , Farmgate Sales, and perhaps Raw Milk Vending machines (like in Europe) . What is your opinion or preference in this matter ?
My opinion is very similar to that of your (Canadian) colleagues in that I would prefer to keep it simple and just have it regulated by and for the people. We do not need a lot more laws in place. Let the people decide for themselves if they want to drink raw milk or not, let them decide for themselves which farm they would like to get it from, and from there the market will take care of itself.
c) Question: Of the many US states you are aware of which states have the healthiest and most supportive regulatory framework to support your situation with a buying club or small herdshares ?
Even though some States have more lenient laws than we have here in Wisconsin , I know of no State in which it is truly open to the people as it should be in accordance with the constitution.
D:Activism and Advocacy
1.Question : Do you get the sense that people regard your case as important for the raw milk movement as a whole? Why do you think people are rallying behind you more so than behind Dan Allgyer?
The reason that this case is so important is due to the fact that so many small farmers have been taken down over the last 10 years. Therefore it is very important for people to finally stop this heavy handed action by the FDA and it’s allies or there won’t be any good food left in the country in the next few years.
2. Question: How do you feel about the current groundswell of support? Perhaps you can mention a few of the key people or organizations that have supported you already through this chapter of the resistance ?
The support that we have been getting has been phenomenal in the sense of people standing up to protect the food that they so desperately need. The key people in this support have been our (Buying Club) Members followed by the Food Freedom Riders, the Weston A Price Foundation, among many others including Sheriff Richard Mack from Texas , a man who is running for Congress even as we speak.
b) Question : There has been some debate in Canada about whether it is more advisable for a raw dairy farmer to work in a low key manner and remain “underground” so to speak or to go “public” about what they are doing and hope that the court of public opinion will carry them through . What are your thoughts on this challenging question ?
I believe very strongly in the philosophy of pulling together rather than pulling apart from each other just because some of our ideas conflict. We will get a lot more accomplished if we do not try to put down other peoples’ causes in order to make our cause rise to the top (and seem better ) . In that sense we could even stand side by side with the people who wish to pasteurize their milk before they drink it . We do not have to be trying to strangle each other !
3. Question: You made the wise statement “United We Stand , Divided We Fall” . What can we , the public , do to support your work and peaceful protest even better ? Where are we still falling short ?
I can not think of any place that the people are falling short at this time. If everybody keeps on going like this there is no doubt that we will come out on top even though it might not look that way with our physical eyes. As I stated at my first court appearance, this case was already won 2000 years ago and there are certain steps that we will have to go through until the truth can come out on top again. Let us not forget the sacrifice that it took 2000 years ago for the truth to come out on top. We have to be willing to make a sacrifice if we want to win using non-violent resistance (methods).
a) Question: What is your concluding message to Canadians and “THE BOVINE “ readers ?
“ Eph 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. “
b) Question: What is your website ? And how do we send donations for your legal expenses ?
We do not have a website, but if you want to encourage donations you can as Kimberly Hartke has just set up an online donation site (details below). Vernon.
Donations : There are several ways to financially support Vernon Hershberger, his family and their courageous quest to protect our Food Freedoms .
1. Online pledges and donations for legal expenses can be made at : http://www.pledgie.com/campaigns/16879 . Title : ‘Help Vernon Hershberger Standup for Private Contract Rights ‘ .
2. You can send also a cheque ,made payable to “Vernon Hershberger” , to his mailing address : S. 6145 Hwy. 23, Loganville, Wisconsin 53943, USA .