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Friday, February 24, 2012

Wisconsin Farmer Facing 3 Years in Prison for Selling Milk

Dear Phelan:
The FDA reign of terror against family farms who are serving the needs of private buying clubs is culminating in one Wisconsin farmer facing federal charges. Citizens deserve the freedom to choose, and are staging an event in support of this principled farmer, Vernon Hershberger. He is being dealt with unjustly, and is standing strong with the support of the families he serves. –Kimberly Hartke

Media Alert
Farmer Faces Possible 3-year Prison Term for Feeding Community
Customers and Other Supporters Stand with Farmer
February 24, 2012--Baraboo, WI—Food sovereignty activists from around North America will meet at this tiny town on March 2, 2012 to support Wisconsin dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger and food sovereignty. Hershberger, who has a court hearing that day, is charged with four criminal misdemeanors that could land him in prison for three years with fines of over $10,000. The Wisconsin Department of Agricultural Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) targeted Hershberger for supplying a private buying club with fresh milk and other farm products.

DATCP has charged Hershberger with, among other things, operating a retail food establishment without a license. Hershberger repeatedly denies 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.”

At a pre-court rally scheduled for 11:00am, in front of the Sauk County Courthouse in Baraboo, food rights activists will read and distribute a “Declaration of Food Independence” that asserts inherent rights in food choice. A signing ceremony will be part of the rally. The signers expect the declaration will inspire a growing food sovereignty movement. Speakers at the rally will include members of Hershberger’s club.

Hershberger and other farmers around the country have been and are facing state or federal charges against them for providing fresh foods to wanting customers. 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 their food.

Farm Food Freedom Coalition wants to ensure that America's treasures, our independent farms and ranches, are able to thrive. We aim to preserve our agricultural heritage and the future availability of traditional, farm fresh foods. Americans want and deserve the freedom to choose natural, unprocessed foods for generations to come.

Information about farm raids: For additional information on raw milk:


Odysseus said...

In my opinion is drinking raw milk a stupid risk and anyone who catches something from knowingly drinking it deserve everything they get without any public assistance to treat it? Yes. Should someone be sent to prison for selling it to some idiot who knows what they're getting? Nope.

Kind ow like I'm not in favor of helmet laws or medicaid for people who get injured from not wearing such.

Phelan said...

So what about all those people that get sick or die that have ingested USDA inspected foods?

Jake said...

There is very little risk from drinking raw milk from farms that are clean and well-run.
Year after year, thousands are sickened and hundreds die from consuming industrially produced food, not from small farms.

Do a little research before claiming that drinking raw milk is a 'stupid risk.'

The real risk is from eating adulterated and modified foods.

Why the hell do I have to help pay for the medical care of people who become obese and get diabetes from consuming the so-called "food" to be found on most supermarket shelves?

Odysseus said...

I don't want to jump into the organic food debate. I've made my decisions based on my own readings of history and what kills people at what point in their lives.

As for Medicaid my personal preference would be completely doing away with it but when I lead with that the wrath of people who prefer unadulterated food pales in comparison.

Stephen said...

Stupid ass government, I mean, really.

TransFarmer said...

what I don't get is that they won't look at history. milk never was a problem until industrialization. I'm going to forgo a long tirade and just shake me head instead. look up pastuer's last words and a man named bechamp.

Bob from Athens said...

Ah big brother, like we ain't got enough sense to walk around someone's farm and judge for ourselves whether or not it is a clean operation or not. When I am buying or trading stuff from or with my neighbor it only takes one visit to determine whether or not there will be a second one. What I really don't understand is why some people ain't got enough sense to check out things for themselves about what is good for them and their families. For things like meat, dairy and veggies, I quit reading and started looking and inspecting long time ago. Course my method don't work for things like gmo's and such, but still if you know the producer or grower then you should be able to make up your own mind about what is good for you and yours.

Hope Mr. Hershberger demands a jury trial if it goes that far. Just here in my neck of the woods there must be about a hundred lawyers will to defend him for free.

Phelan said...

There is a valid argument for both sides. But the point to this farmer's story, is that no one got sick from his produce.

Stephen, It is quite silly.

Trans, it's about regulating. Raw produce sold direct like this is hard to regulate.

Bob, someone has to save us from ourselves (did I just roll my eyes?)

HermitJim said...

Just another way to try and control the farming community and the public!

Actually none of their business, in my opinion!

Basic Humanity said...

This is kind of a tough one isn't it? On one hand, you want to be sure that no one will get sick (and no one did in this instance) and that if they do the cause is clear and appropriate action can be taken. On the other hand, people should be able to buy and sell their products as they please, so long as everyone understands the risks. I'm not really informed enough on this issue to comment, but it seems ridiculous for him to be punished, especially so heavily, for this.

Also, hi Phelan. I haven't been by in a while, thought the hiatus was still in action, but it's great to find you posting again. Hope all is well.

Phelan said...

I am still on a kind of hiatus.

Gordon Rigg Garden Centre said...

Sounds like "health and safety" gone mad! I know in the UK some cheeses are sold 'unpasteurised' / raw and so can't see why milk is more dangerous.
Gordon Rigg

Phelan said...

Gordon, raw cheeses will get you in trouble he as well. There are several illness one could contract with raw dairy. But even with USDA inspection, processed foods have been passing illnesses on as well. It all comes down to regulating. The USDA and the FDA can't regulate raw milk. States set the laws regarding raw milk, and unless someone gets sick or is caught crossing state lines with it, the FDA nor the USDA can control it.

John said...

I think I need more and more and more explanation before I'll say something on the topic. Well, for now, I'm just lucky that I'm a coffee lover and not a milk drinker :-)

Ann said...

I understand not wanting people to get sick, and all that, but if no one has gotten sick from drinking the milk that he sells, then he must be doing it right.
A 3 year prison term seems ridiculous to me though. There are actual crimes committed by people out there who wouldn't be facing that kind of prison time.
Out of curiosity, what is the problem of a "private buyers club""? If you have a group of friends and you all sell or trade items (services, fruits, veggies, dairy products) to each other, would they be able to step in and stop you or file criminal charges? Or is it only if you are selling to the public as part of a buyers club?
I dunno - has me gears turning now. Think I'll read up some more on the whole raw milk controversy.
Thank for sharing this!

Eliza @ Appalachian Feet said...

Ugh, so sickening. Thanks for making people aware of this situation. I've heard of a lot of dumb reasons to put someone in prison but selling milk may top the list.

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