“Defense testimony from one of Vernon Hershberger’s buying club members since 2004, Joseph Plasterer, as to how he came to seek out the farm’s food.
Plasterer: “We were looking for some natural milk sources, in early 2004.”
Defense lawyer: Did you come and meet the Hershbergers?
Plasterer: “Yes. We asked if we could be part of the farm…
Defense: Did you have a reason?
Plasterer: “My son was not thriving…”
Judge Guy Reynolds: “Sustained”
Plasterer: “We wanted access to unprocessed food that was higher quality than would not be available from the stores.”
Judge Reynolds: “Sustained. Strike the answer. The jury is to ignore that.”
I know it’s becoming increasingly difficult in certain places to access food privately. But illegal to speak of it? That was a new one. It was an apparent outgrowth of the judge’s efforts over the last few months to restrict or eliminate any discussion of raw milk, legalities of private food, food safety, and other topics related to food and health. …”
“Farmer Faces Jail Time over Raw Milk Sales
As you’re probably aware of by now, there’s a war being waged against raw milk. While raw milk sales or distribution are legal in many US states, and progress has been made toward improving access, there’s strong opposition to this trend. Each victory is hard-won.
Our federal health agencies claim to be protecting us from this ‘dangerous’ product. As you walk down the aisles of junk food at your local grocery store, pass by the liquor section, and watch individuals buying cartons of cigarettes – you have to wonder is this really about our personal safety or the safety of the milk industry.
(A herdshare is a private agreement between a farmer and an individual in which the farmer is paid to take care of an animal, cow for example, that belongs to one or more people. You essentially pay a onetime purchase fee to “buy a share” of a farmer’s herd, which entitles you to the benefits of owning that cow, such as a certain amount of milk each week.)
On May 20, the trial of Wisconsin dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger began at the Sauk County Courthouse. Hershberger is charged with four criminal misdemeanors that could result in a jail sentence of up to 30 months, along with fines totaling more than $10,000.
As previously reported, Hershberger’s farm was targeted by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) for supplying a private buying club with raw milk and other fresh produce.
It’s important to realize that there’s much more at stake than what meets the eye here. As stated in the featured article by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund2:
“DATCP has charged Hershberger with, among other things, operating a retail food establishment without a license. Hershberger repeatedly rejects this, citing that he provides foods only to paid members in a private buying club and is not subject to state food regulations.
“There is more at stake here than just a farmer and his few customers,” says Hershberger, “this is about the fundamental right of farmers and consumers to engage in peaceful, private, mutually consenting agreements for food, without additional oversight.
… “Hershberger, and other farmers around the country, are facing state or federal charges against them for providing fresh foods to wanting individuals. In recent months the FDA has conducted several long undercover sting operations and raids against peaceful farmers and buying clubs that have resulted in farms shutting down and consumers without access to the food they depend on.”
Each day, following the day’s hearings, which began on May 20 and is expected to go on for about a month, supporters are scheduled to gather at the Al Ringling Theater across the street from the Sauk County Courthouse where leaders in the food rights movement will hold live presentations and lectures.
Scheduled speakers include Virginia farmer Joel Salatin, Mountain Man show star Eustace Conway, and food rights organizer from Maine, Deborah Evans….”