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On May 20th, a crucial case in food freedom and consumers’ choice will go to court. Vernon Hershberger, a dairy farmer who supplies raw milk to local consumers through private buying clubs, will be tried for violating dairy licensing regulations and defying a Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection hold order to stop supplying his product.
Wisconsin, affectionately known as “America’s Dairyland,” accounts for over 13% of the nation’s milk production. There is a rising consumer interest in unpasteurized products, which industrial dairy plants cannot provide because it would be near impossible to ensure safe handling practices on such a large scale. As such, these large dairy enterprises have an economic interest in making sure that smaller independent farmers, like Vernon Hershberger, are unable to sell raw milk products – effectively removing the one niche market where family-owned farms can compete with the big enterprises.
Since 2009, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has been working with the FDA to try to outlaw raw milk distribution. This case is not just a legal battle, but a political one as well. It is not just about Hershberger’s right to sell food via private buying clubs, but about the rights of all Americans to contract with producers to obtain food privately, without the interference of regulators. Hershberger’s case is a pivotal case for food rights and will set a precedent for how the raw milk industry is viewed in other states.
If you are in the Baraboo, WI area and want to show your support for Vernon Hershberger and the local farm industry, you can attend the trial. There will be public seating in the courtroom, as well as an overflow viewing room. Be a part of the Raw Milk Revolution!