“The principle of private food should get a test in front of a jury of ordinary citizens when raw dairy farmer Vernon Hershbeger goes on trial in Wisconsin on Jan. 7.
I should say the principle should get a test, because initial indications are that the state will work like the dickens to sidestep that issue in favor of a ton of fear mongering designed to scare the jury that raw milk is too dangerous to distribute publicly, privately, or any which way, and thus seek to justify both the state’s ban on raw milk sales and its relentless prosecution of Hershberger, a farmer who provides raw milk and other food to more than 100 members of a private food club around his town of Loganville.
The court has scheduled five days for the proceedings. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection has already presented the defense with a list of 30 witnesses it plans to call in the trial, including the state veterinarian and a number of public health experts.
That list of witnesses, many with no direct knowledge of Hershberger’s food club or the issue of food rights, suggests strongly that the state will be seeking to turn the trial into a case against raw milk, and argue that raw milk distribution can’t be allowed by anyone, including Hershberger.
But Hershberger has no doubt given pause to the state by engaging an experienced Wisconsin lawyer, Elizabeth Rich, through the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (of which she is vice president). The state would much rather have faced off against just Hershberger as he went through the proceedings thus far, representing himself, despite the fits he gave them in successfully defying their efforts to claim he had violated his bail terms and in forcing the videotaping of all proceedings. …”