What is the case against Wisconsin farmer Vernon Hershberger really about? It depends on whom you ask.
To hear the prosecution, it’s about licensing, not raw milk: Hershberger, a dairy farmer hailing from the town of Loganville, is on trial this week for operating without three licenses. He’s also accused of continuing to sell raw milk to members of his private club after he was ordered not to.
If convicted, the father of 10 faces more than a year in jail and more than $10,000 in fines.
Prosecutors say they aren’t debating the safety of raw milk — and the judge in the case has pretty much banned all mention of the stuff in the courtroom. His defense team tells us that one trial spectator wearing a T-shirt expressing support for raw milk had to turn it inside out before he was allowed in the courtroom.
But activists say the case is about raw milk and much, much more.
Fundamentally, they say, it’s about personal food freedom and the rights of farmers and consumers to enter into private contracts without government intervention.
“As a mother, I have the right to choose the nutritious foods that I want to feed my son. I don’t want the government making that choice for me,” says Jen Morrison, a member of Hershberger’s Grazin’ Acres private food buying club.
In addition to raw milk, she gets beef and poultry raised by Hershberger and his family. In return, she pays a $25 annual membership fee — considered an investment in the farm — plus the cost for each product she buys (such as a gallon of raw milk). Occasionally, her family volunteers on the farm.
In Raw Milk Case, Activists See Food Freedom On Trial : The Salt : NPR.
The good news is, Vernon Hershberger’s right to farm and provide the food he grows to those who need it was successfully defended.