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the Organic Review: Final Verdict for Raw Milk Farmer – $1,000 Fine & No Jail Time
by Ali Papademetriou
Government involvement within the food industry not only promotes corporatism with food giants but also cripples family farming. One of the most recent yet long-term cases involves Amish dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger.
In June of 2010, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATC) raided Hershberger’s farm. Officials and Sheriff’s deputies sealed shut his food supplies, contaminated his raw milk, and took him to court for being unlicensed. Hershberger’s farm produced food for his family and private buying club, all of whom were outraged to discover that the farm was shut down and he was penalized for not being given the OK from the state to be doing what he was doing. Hershberger’s food is nourishing to his family and has never caused anyone to become ill. Clearly, he was not harming anyone.
Then almost three years later, Mr. Hershberger appeared in court for his trial that lasted from May 20, 2013 until May 24, 2013 at the Sauk County Courthouse in Baraboo, Wisconsin.
On May 24, 2013, Derrick J. Freeman of Peace News Now, who traveled to Wisconsin to follow the trial and continuously kept followers updated via Twitter updates on his website, informed supporters that the jury had not yet returned a verdict on any of the four criminal counts that Hershberger was facing. Among them were “distributing milk from his “Grazin’ Acres” dairy farm without a milk producer’s license, operating a retail food establishment without a state license, operating a dairy plant without a state license, and violating a “hold order” placed on his dairy products after the state raided his farm.”
Finally at 1:00 A.M. on Saturday May 25, 2013, some final verdicts were reached yet one would still be left lingering for another couple of weeks. Vernon Hershberger was found not guilty for three of the four counts that he was being charged with. The count that lingered though was the holding order violation, which made Hershberger and others anxious considering the potential punishment could have ended up being a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.00.
On Thursday June 13, 2013, the final verdict came to a close and luckily it was one that left Hershberger telling the Reedsburg Times-Press, “I’m satisfied” while walking out of the courthouse.
Judge Guy Reynolds imposed a $1,000.00 fine on Hershberger in addition to $513.00 in court fees. Hershberger will not be facing any jail time.