The trial of Amish raw milk man Vernon Herschberger is unfolding this week in Baraboo Wisconsin. American food rights journalist David E. Gumpert has published many blog posts detailing the pre-courthouse skirmishes in the case, intended for the most part to avoid dealing with the larger raw milk and food rights issues at stake and focusing the case purely on the purported regulatory improprieties Herschberger is charged with. If you haven’t been following David’s “The Complete Patient” blog lately, do scroll down there to read some of the backstory. Here’s an excerpt from David’s latest report from the Baraboo courthouse:
“I had assumed that the tension and drama in the Vernon Hershberger raw milk trial would build gradually over the expected five days of the proceedings, culminating in a verdict that would either acquit him or possibly send him to jail for up to two-and-a-half years.
Yet there I and dozens of other attendees were in the opening minutes of the trial, before even the newly-selected jury of a dozen area citizens, and two alternates, had been brought in, sitting on the edges of our seats. The two sides in the case were engaged in an intense argument over a prosecution motion to prevent the defense from presenting information to the jury about the membership arrangement that drives Hershberger’s food club; such a prohibition would prevent the defense from including among its witnesses members of Hershberger’s private food club.
The prosecution had previously convinced the judge to rule its way on a number of important issues–no arguments about Hershberger’s possibly criminal intent for failing to obtain retail and dairy licenses, no arguments about the safety of raw milk, no arguments about the regulators’ reasons for going after Hershberger via the infamous raid of June 2010, which led the raw milk farmer to break the seals and cut the tape intended by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) to shut down his farm store.
Now, they wanted the private membership arrangements excluded because they would suggest Hershberger had an “exception” from Wisconsin regulations requiring retail and dairy permits. “There are places like Sam’s Club where there is a membership and there is no exception,” argued Eric DeFort, an assistant attorney general with the Wisconsin Department of Justice….”