Despite objections inside and outside the courtroom, an Amish raw milk farmer was fingerprinted, photographed and booked Wednesday in the basement of the Sauk County Courthouse in Baraboo.

A crowd of supporters rallied outside the building just before Loganville dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger appeared in court to face charges filed last month by the state Department of Justice.

"It's not like (raw milk) is being forced on me," said Deb Jacobs, who lives east of Madison and leases a portion of a cow that Hershberger cares for on his farm. "I seek it out. I've done the research."

Jacobs was one of about 50 people who gathered in front of the courthouse entrance and drank from a cooler of raw milk in defiance of the corporate food system.

State regulators have warned of health risks associated with the consumption of unpasteurized dairy products.

DOJ prosecutors allege Hershberger operated an unlicensed retail food establishment, and that he produced and processed dairy products without state licenses. He also is charged with violating a hold order that state inspectors placed on his products after they raided his farm in June 2010. Hershberger openly violated the hold order following the raid.

The maximum penalties for all charges total to $13,000 in fines or 2 1/2 years in jail.

Just before he headed inside the courthouse, Hershberger spoke to the crowd with a megaphone and sang a hymn with his family.

"It doesn't really matter what happens here today because we already have won," Hershberger said. "If people lived and obeyed God's law (in biblical times), they were free. If they disobeyed God's law, they were slaves."

The raid on Hershberger's farm occurred weeks after then-Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill that would have allowed limited sales of raw milk in Wisconsin. Despite the timing, state officials said the case had nothing to do with the debate over raw milk.

Hershberger did not renew his Grade B dairy license and was operating a retail food establishment without a license, state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection officials said.

After the raid, Hershberger established a new system in which groups of people lease the animals he cares for on his farm. The leaseholders consume products only from the animals they own, Hershberger says.

Hershberger claims the new system exempts him from state licensing requirements. However, the criminal case against him is not likely to test that claim because the charges allege criminal behavior took place during time periods before the lease agreements were established.

Inside the courtroom, Assistant Attorney General Eric Defort asked the judge to place Hershberger on a signature bond. He requested that conditions of bond prohibit Hershberger and others on his farm from processing or selling food without the proper licenses.

"Since 2007, Mr. Hershberger has been advised of his requirement to have a certified license," Defort said, adding that Hershberger has consistently refused to comply with state regulators.

He also asked that Hershberger be booked.

"I object, your honor," said Hershberger, who appeared without an attorney. "There is no proof of criminal acts against me."

Sauk County Circuit Court Judge James Evenson ordered that Hershberger be placed on a $500 signature bond, which included the provisions requested by the prosecution. He scheduled Hershberger for a pretrial conference with prosecutors Jan. 30 and a return court appearance Feb. 13.

(21) comments

Cindy Schulze

Follow the money, they're too afraid to let us have raw milk sellers because some irresponsible people will ruin it and someone will get sick. Then people will stop buying the store bought milk because they're too stupid to know the difference. That's what they claim is the reason raw milk can't be legal. I don't mean the farmer will necessarily be the one at fault either. Someone who doesn't know what they're doing will go down to the local grade A mega-farm and buy some raw milk and drink it and get sick. Then they'll all cry "See! Raw milk is bad for you!" And because of that, I can't buy raw milk from someone who is willing to milk my cow for me and make butter, yogurt, cheese, etc. for me, from my cow. We're talking about MY COW! MY MILK! MY RIGHTS! That's what this is all about! If I want to hire someone to milk my cow and make my food for me I'm SOL! How is that right!? People need to investigate what jury nullification is and start talking to your friends about it.

Kim Galston

it kind of goes hand in hand when people complain that they can't afford healthy food-- and you see them buying chips and other junk cause it's "cheap"..... ever do the math per oz of produce and chips.. kinda scary with some peoples way of thinking!

mike grim

You took the words right out of my mouth. "OldBossy said on: January 15, 2012, 11:41 pm"

OldBossy cow

How come unhealthy food is heavily promoted and subsidized? And healthy food like Raw Milk is discouraged? far more people get sick and some die, from Pasteurized Milk. Politicians do know which way the winds blow, as long as we buy unhealthy food we only empower those who have no interest in your good health. you being sick is a money maker! BigMed and BigPharma are bigger than BigAgra in size.

Meta Sploiter

[quote]Hometowngirl said: " if all that is true that i have read about raw milk "[/quote]

I want to thank you for doing your own research, frankly your barley touching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our food. The FDA is another bought and paid for Government Organization to to one thing .. I'll Quote Freddy this time " It's about corporate control of consumers" You want your mind to be really twisted, go check out " Monsanto " and all there lovely GMO products. Natural News did a wonderful piece yesterday.


Welcome to the Revolution

Kim Galston

thank you for the answer on why this is such an issue beyond a license to sell.
I guess in a way i am grateful for most FDA rules to keep myself and family healthy-- but if all that is true that i have read about raw milk-- i think it is absurb that they put these rules into place to block the sale. In a perfect world you could still sell it and sign a waiver stating that you are buying it for whatever reason and will not sue due to illness caused by raw milk products. I think it should be our right as americans to make this choice...again corporate america standing in the way of eating more natural products.

Roger Bird

My boy was healed of allergies. The only criminals in this drama is the FDA and their lackeys.

mike grim

2 years ago in march there was a public hearing 1000's of people told there stores of how raw milk saved there lives and the lives of there children. No one listened.

mike grim

When the state illegally changed the the definition of incidental sales, raw milk became illegal. That's when the cow shares started. Then the state redefined some more language and cow shares became illegal. If the farmer continued to sell raw milk the state took there retail food establishment license. If they became too popular suddenly there wasn't enough milk for the dairy truck and they lost there dairy license.

mike grim

The First Cow-Share Program
By Neysa C. Garrett
27 JAN 2007
Niels Drustrup, a Danish farm boy who immigrated to America in the 1890s, may have been the originator of the concept of share ownership of cows. In 1929 Drustrup bought what he called "a small subsistence farm," 33 acres of prime bottom land along the Delaware River in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. On it were a stone farmhouse circa 1765, a nice red barn, and various outbuildings, sheds, hen houses and root cellars. He planted orchards, grew field crops and bought two flocks of chickens--Rhode Island Reds for eating and White Leghorns for laying--some pigs and a cow.
Shortly after moving there, the stock market crash changed lives all over the country, and Bucks County was no exception. Many of the neighbors lost their jobs in the paper mill across the river in New Jersey. Poverty was everywhere. Drustrup had two cows by that time in order to have a steady milk supply for his family. They were "of the best accredited kind" and were tested annually for tuberculosis and bangs disease. He had extra milk and began selling it to his neighbors.
Children came to the kitchen door with their own pails after milking time. Milk was sold for six cents a quart in summer and seven cents in winter. This was five cents a quart below the local dairy price, a significant savings at that time. The commercial dairy, angry at being undercut by an outsider, reported to the State Health Department that Drustrup was selling milk without a proper milk house. Two inspectors came to visit and told him he was breaking the law.

mike grim

I'm assuming he lost his licence's when the state illegally changed the the definition of incidental sales.

Terry Turnquist

If there is a legitimate reason why the milk has to be pasturized to keep the customers hea;thy, then there is an issue. All restaurants are inspected by Health officials to make sure that they are doing things to make their food products safe. If someone gets sick from his non pasturized milk, does the farmer pay the doctor bill? I agree that we have to many requlations, but if there is still a reason for pasturization, then he is putting his customers at risk. I used to drink milk before it was pasturized, but I had to cool it off, warm mild and I just don't get along. Also I never got sick from it.

Gene Biesek

Just curious maybe someone else knows the answer. Do the people that sell sweet corn and other produce on the side of the road have a lic. What would be the difference here?


If he gets a license he still legally would not be able to sell raw milk because you cant sell it in Wisconsin. Which is too bad. If people CHOOSE to buy raw milk than I dont understand why they shouldnt be able to. But, he is in trouble because he is operating an unlicensed retail food establishment. And EVERYBODY who sells food or drink for profit in Wisconsin legally needs a license to do so, why should this guy be able to sell without one? The rules dont apply to him? It would be differant if it were just about raw milk but its not. Thats why half of me supports him and half of me thinks why should you be treated any differant than anybody else who wants to sell something.

Kim Galston

"...Hershberger operated an unlicensed retail food establishment, and that he produced and processed dairy products without state licenses..."

So if this guy gets these permits/licenses he is free to sell the milk correct?

Mary Jo Ramsey

Maybe this farmer should GIVE the milk away and hope those who partake send him donations to run his farm and feed his family. But there's probably a law against that as well.
I used to trade with a diary farmer up the road from me... 2 doz. of my eggs for a gallon of her raw milk. I even got to choose whole or skim by learning how to run the mixer. Should I turn myself in? My farmer friend has passed on and is likely up in heaven sending blessings to farmers like this man!


This isn't about a man and his milk cows. It's about corporate control of consumers. Let him sell his milk!

mike grim

Dave your right when you say it's about breaking the rules but your wrong when you say no one cares about raw milk. First of all, this man isn't accused of spiting on the side walk. Vernon and his children are accused of feeding the hungry and curing the sick. You have to ask yourself who's really breaking the rules.

Kurt Kujawa

The whole story here is easily understood. There are companies in this state are screaming and pulling their hair out about about this guy. They made the rules that are enforced by partners at some level of our government. BULLS**T,, It's about (Freedom) and nothing more it is the essence of the thing that is destroying our country. The thing that I hate is I'm paying for these people to punish an innocent man. Smaller less intrusive government in 2012 let's start with the DC Crooks.

Meta Sploiter

[quote]DaveSP said: " It's more about a guy who doesn't think he has to follow the rules."[/quote]

That's your argument here, REALLY ?? Fair enough, lets have fun time.

So the President of the United States who swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution sign into law the NDAA (The Natzification of America ) along with 96 Senators, do the rules not apply to them ? Relax, I'm just getting started.. John Corzine ( MF Global ) orders 1.5 billion to be removed for personal accounts, gets in front of Congress and lies to them on TV none the less and that's OK ...

Congress passes a law where the insider trader act doesn't apply to them, right now we have freshman Congress men who went Washington with a net worth of 120,000.00 and are now worth 10's of millions of dollars and they think this is absolutely normal !!! The rules don't apply to them either I guess.

This is a complete and utter miscarriage of Justice. This is about breaking the family, breaking self sufficiency.

David Breunig

I really do't feel to sorry for this guy. Why does he get to break the rules that everyone else has to follow? I don't think this is really about the raw milk, who really cares about that? It's more about a guy who doesn't think he has to follow the rules.

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