Friday, March 22, 2013

Pre-Trial Hearing Begins For Farmer Targeted by Raw Milk Police; Legal Concerns Begin to Mount

Activist Post

This is an update to the ongoing legal saga of Vernon Hershberger who is in a battle with the raw milk police. The First Amendment may be on the line as well.

3/22/13: Vernon Hershberger's pre-trial hearing began in blizzard-like conditions this past Monday. Regardless, at least 100 activists still came out to show their support according to David Gumpert writing for The Complete Patient.

However, inside the courtroom, Gumpert describes the situation as a "legal pretzel" that should have everyone who cares about the First Amendment, as well as the right to consume healthy products, more than a little worried:
The bad news? Most of those attending the hearing probably couldn’t tell you what the hell the hearing was really about. The whole thing, as I understand it, is about whether Hershberger’s lawyers can call witnesses to testify about the benefits of raw milk. The state is arguing he can’t, since he didn’t exercise his right to appeal the holding order back in 2010. Hershberger says his religious beliefs prohibited him initiating a legal action against the state in the form of the appeal. But don’t hold me to what I’ve just said. (Source)
Ultimately, this case could come down to The Bible vs. The Bureaucracy. Mr. Hershberger is part of the Amish community and his faith generally prevents him from taking legal action, which early on in this saga may have had wide-ranging ramifications. For background information about the complexities of this case, please see the various updates below and see David Gumpert's must-read full update HERE.

Update (2/22/13): We would like to encourage readers to take 1 day out of their busy schedules to show your support for Vernon Hershberger by attending a pre-trial hearing that is now set for March 18, 2013 at 1 PM at Sauk County Courthouse, 515 Oak Street Baraboo, Wisconsin.

A flyer can be downloaded here, courtesy of, printed out and shared with your friends, posted around town, or plastered on the university bulletin boards. Get active and raise awareness to the plight of this peaceful farmer who never injured anyone. Get started waking up people in your neighborhood with this flyer and the article below which provides details of Vernon's case and other updates about the legal proceedings.

Update: We have just learned through Right to Choose Healthy Food that the Vernon Hershberger's trial has been postponed yet again, this time until May 20, 2013. The full press release from the News Republic staff can be read below. A map and directions for the rally can be found here.
A trial on charges related to the sale of raw milk against Loganville farmer Vernon Hershberger has been postponed due to a last-minute motion filed by his attorney in court Friday. 
During a telephone conversation with the News Republic on Saturday, Hershberger said the motion — which was not immediately available — related to his First Amendment rights to religious freedom. 
'Because of my religious beliefs, I do not believe in taking anyone to court,' Hershberger said. 'The only option I had was to disregard the holding order placed on me and allow the members to come and get their food.'
Hershberger said his attorney was allowed to file the motion and prosecutors in the case requested additional time to consider their response. Sauk County Circuit Court Judge Guy Reynolds accepted the request and agreed to push back the trial, which had been scheduled to begin Jan. 7. 
Prosecutors representing the Wisconsin Department of Justice could not be reached for comment Saturday. 
The delay is the second time the trial has been postponed. The case previously was pushed back following a hearing in August.

Original article with background details can be found below....

A little more than a week ago we covered the ongoing battle of Vernon Hershberger with the Wisconsin legal system. Hershberger was raided by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, citing a failure to have proper retail licensing for distribution. He subsequently had his raw milk stocks destroyed by injecting blue dye, had his farm shut down, and was arrested.

While in jail, he signed an agreement to comply with a ban on distribution and posted a $500 bond to gain his release. However, after further thought, Vernon considered the spurious accusations and decided to declare his own food independence; he cut the tape and resumed his farming and distribution. He has been looking at potentially 3 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for his resistance.

In March, people flew in from all over the country to attend a support rally prior to Hershberger's first court appearance. A full-length documentary, Let Them Eat Grass (trailer below) will soon be released that will give full documentation to Hershberger's plight, as well as highlighting the activism which has perhaps aided in his trial being repeatedly postponed.

We are happy to report a new development in this case.

A rally had been announced ahead of Vernon's latest trial date of the week of January 7, 2013. However, it looks the momentum -  a vigorous defense issued by his attorney, Elizabeth Rich - has pressured yet another postponement, this time for several months or longer.

According to a letter sent by the Hershbergers:
Members and Friends, 
First a very big Thank You to you all for your prayers and all the other means of support that have been rendered on our behalf! We appreciate it very much! Sometimes the load gets to be pretty heavy. It sure was good to see the work that the Lord did today in the way things worked out. We trust that he has a special plan for letting this all happen in this way! 
Yes! The trial has been postponed ... at least 4 months but maybe longer than that. This is all due to the wonderful Attorney that we have and her quick wit, with which she handled the proceedings today. The State proposed to kick out all professional witnesses from testifying at trial due to this being a case about license and not about raw milk. They had persuaded the Judge to do it their way when Elizabeth brought up the 1st amendment issue in that I have a sincerely held religious belief that I would not take anyone to court. Therefore the only options I had when the holding order was put in place was to take it to an Administrative Court or to disregard it. Being that we don't believe in taking someone to Court our only option was to disregard the Holding Order and face the consequences. She asked for permission to file a brief in regards to the first Amendment rights. The State claimed they don't have time for something like that over the Holidays with the trial so close. The Judge said he will give us time to file the brief and in order to give each side the time that they need we will have to postpone the trial and that was that. We will have a scheduling conference call on Jan 4 to decide the dates for any up coming hearings and the trial. 
We are hoping this will give everyone a chance to enjoy their Holidays in a more relaxed way and spend more time with family and friends. 
Vernon, Erma, and Crew
David Gumpert, writing for The Complete Patient adds that the complexities on both sides were raised on issues such as "jury nullification, legal intent, attempts to block witnesses from testifying, differences in how to define 'consumers', the extent of DATCP's authority, and any number of other issues ... and this all before the trial began."

The latest hearing, as alluded to in Vernon's note above, was one surrounding the foundational First Amendment right to freedom of religious belief and exercise thereof. Gumpert provides additional context:
The judge asked the prosecutors whether Hershberger had had an opportunity to challenge the findings earlier. A prosecutor said the Summary Special Order included a recitation of appeal rights -- Hershberger could have filed an administrative appeal of the Order, but he did not. Based on that, the judge ruled that Beals' testimony could not come in.  
Rich said that, to the extent the judge's ruling was based on Hershberger 's failure to file the administrative appeal of the orders, it violated his First Amendment rights, because he has a sincerely held religious belief that prevents him from being the aggressor in any legal proceedings.
( . . . ) 
Hershberger's religious beliefs stem from his upbringing in an Amish community. The Amish generally avoid taking legal action, and even in some cases from hiring lawyers to defend themselves when they are prosecuted.
We will continue to keep you posted about new developments in the Vernon Hershberger case, as well as the wider fight for food freedom.

As we head through the holiday season, let us not forget to share the good news of the many victories, even amid the vigorous move by state bureaucracy to shut down natural health and consumer choice. Here are 7 Victories for Raw Milk Freedom Advocates. And here is a link that was added to David Gumpert's piece above that cites a recent victory in Michigan for Shady Grove Farm; the judge ruled that they were in fact protected by the Right to Farm Act.

Please add your own links of victory in the comment section below that we can share with others and help maintain momentum in the food freedom revolution.

Let Them Eat Grass: The Food Freedom Revolution

Read other articles by Activist Post Here


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Anonymous said...

A Dairy farmer here in Iowa had some of the same problems. So, rather then quit (And play their game) He started giveing his milk away for donations. He just put up a sign, FREE MILK, and people came. He ended up makeing more money then when he was chargeing for it. Just saying that as long as He doesn't sale it He doesn't need permission (license) to give it away and they can't do much about it.

Anonymous said...

Great idea. He could also form his own non=profit 501c3 so he doesn't have to pay taxes. He is after all, giving it away free!

Anonymous said...

This is what our lovely government portrays as such a threat that they need to raid raw milk farmers using SWAT teams, firearms drawn and shoved in the face of people selling raw milk to other people WHO WANT RAW MILK!

This is of course a smoke screen trying to hide the real reasons for such violations of peoples civil rights. This is the dairy lobby using the federal government as goons, to strong arm the small independent farmers to fall into submission like good little slaves and stop being a threat to the big co-op money cows! It's cronie capitalism at it's finest! Stop paying taxes people. It only allows the criminals in DC to continue their debauchery!

Anonymous said...

They need to put their bottled milk in a cooler and the users can come to the cooler and get it. The users can leave a "donation" for whatever size and how many bottles they take. I grew up on raw milk as did my parents and grand parents. It never hurt us.

Anonymous said...

Jury nullification is the way forward. When honest, intelligent people sitting on juries make the decision that stupid, irrational laws have no force, that will be the end of the nightmare we're living in.

Until trial by jury is banned by our criminal government or universally denied by our corrupt judges, that is.

Anonymous said...

When will the raw milk people adopt the mantra "Come and Take It"?
Then and only then will the jackboots from DATCP, FDA, CDA, etc. stand down.
The 2A is to protect all your rights and property. Wake up America, tyranny has been crushing your rights to choose your food, your medicine (medical marijuana), your supplements, and so forth. When they come armed and raid your food club or your medical dispencary, meet them with equal force and turn them away from your property. Remember this is the land of the free and the home of the brave, now prove it to the rest of the world.

Anonymous said...

lets see here...millions of years of eating natural foods and now suddenly we need the food full of government poison and radiation. Makes sense to me! What is wrong with these people and their natural food fetish!!?!? WTF...just shoot me in the head.

Anonymous said...

I have without a doubt drank more raw milk in my lifetime then most people alive today. Same for my parents and our sons. We milked our own cows and used the milk. Never hurt any of us. My parents were both 92 when they died.

Anonymous said...

Jury nullification is the way forward.

Okay, so how do you get people (watching TV and posting their life story for the NSA on facebook) to visit fija?

If you can get them to visit, how do you get them to REMEMBER? (I got to tell ya it took about a YEAR for me to figure it out--today this time needs to be decreased)

Ya know this brings up something else I been thinking lately.

Just what exactly are our laws right now?
I can't seem to tell anymore.

With Constitution into my head I ask humbly, what are the laws today?

Seems like every two hours I hear about some new law. I can't keep up. No wonder there's uncertainty in the markets, business, jobs.

This shit needs to be STATIC.
THese fucking wars need to end.

Anonymous said...

The real solution is dissolving the federal government because they have devolved into something that no longer functions as a normal legitimate government.

Until the time that we grow-a-pair and do the right thing, jury nullification should be topic of conversation wherever real Americans gather.

Laurel Sobol said...

NDAA should never have been illegally signed into a bill by contempt of court representatives and by Grim Reaper Usurper Obama on New Years Eve 2011 while you were getting ready to party in the Ney Year...Sinister small minded people criminally worked to break American in half and drag her through the streets castrated just like they did to Ambassador Christopher Steven in Bengazi when Obama went to sleep for a Las Vegas day of campaigning for the illegal presidential election! Stand down stand down stand down, but two X Seals and another internet gaming guru didn't stand down for their man Stevens...Head of Africom was fired, general galore have been made to retire, in and out of scandal...Because these generals would not fire on free loving kind hearted good Americans! Obama has gone so far as to ask Russia, China, Mexico to fire on Americans, they want gun owners names and addresses in Mexico and China mandates Americans turn in their guns thus giving up the rights under the US Constitution so they can take over America easily and destroy us all in the process. Now internet freedom of speech is about gone. Obama illegally signed an E.O. for CISPA after assassinating Aron Swartz. Assassins are all over the USA for about a month killing key and high men and women who love America and their liberties under the US Constitution. Thank you. Peace to the American People and the world. Also a note about Canada, they will assist Obama UN CIA NWO in killing Americans, you can count on that!

Hide Behind said...

Why is it hard to be left alone, to live on terms of our own.
Was a time we had a life and only let those we wanted enter it; Where did that life go; What happened to our personal space?
It is not just the pysical they inrude upon but even into our metaphysical and beyond.
Why cannot we say; Just leave us alone, without being labled as "Enemies of The State".

Anonymous said...

Our government has gone full retard.....

Anonymous said...

I get my raw milk from a local farm in CT. The rule here is the
farmer can only sell at the farm. My farmer doesnt inject her
cows nor buy the feed with BSD (the growth hormone). She
put a sign out in front of the farm that she doesnt use BSD
and the State came and told her to take it down. No reason
provided, but its pretty easy to see that if the public finds out
that milk in the stores is loaded with a growth hormone its
bad for the big milk factory profits. Gov is not for the People.
I want my raw milk, leave us the fk alone!

Anonymous said...

Those bringing up the donation: It all depends on the state laws. Here in NC it is illegal to even give raw milk away or get donations for it. The same way many states have cow-share laws and those pitching in to own a cow can drink it's raw milk...we cannot. Unless you own the cow yourself (on your own land) you can't legally possess the milk. I don't know the laws where this farmer is,but hopefully he will work on changing the face of raw milk. I don't personally drink milk, however when I did it was always raw (I grew up on a farm). People should be allowed to drink it if they want, boo!

Anonymous said...

ny, it is also illegal to "give away" raw milk

obi_donkenobi said...

While I understand the poitical issues here, please consider this: cow milk does NOT do a human body good. In "The China Study," the most comprehensive study of nutrition *ever* done, Dr. T. Colin Campbell shows through peer-reviewed scientific study that (among many other eye-opening facts) animal protein(fish, chicken, beef and dairy) actually weakens the bones in humans, and can increase the odds of contracting the "diseases of affluence," including cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, auto-immune diseases (such as gout, arthritis, shingles, etc.), and dementia.

So, rather than fighting about whether farmers have the right to sell raw milk or not, you might want to be far more concerned with the deleterious health affects of this subtance.

Please don't just take my word for it. Find out for yourself about these claims - you may be surprised.

Anonymous said...

@ obi_donkenobi above: Are you one of those paid shills, one of those whores who prostitutes themselves for a few $$$ to feed damaging lies to his fellow man in forums like this?
Raw milk is not bad for one's health! Pasteurised and homogenised milk is harmful, as much of the goodness has been destroyed or altered to become harmful.
And it IS far more important to fight for the rights of farmers to sell raw milk and for the rights of people to buy whatever food they want to buy!!! It is patently obvious to anyone with a modicum of common sense that all this "food safety" bullshit is not about protecting the public but about gaining control of every facet of the food supply. The FDA is against healthy food options, while at the same time pushing toxic crap onto people and protecting the corporations that produce toxic crap. Retard shills like you make me sick!

Anonymous said...

You're all wet, Obi Veganobi. Hindus have more experience with vegetarianism than anyone in the world and they consider dairy products to be great health foods. Indeed, cow milk ghee(clarified butter) is considered to be the most sattvic (spiritually pure) of all foods. There's no traditional culture anywhere in the world that eats a vegan diet. This food fascism has to stop._

Anonymous said...

What you are missing here is why they hassle the dairy farmer. It leads others to believe falsely that pasteurized milk is good for us when milk causes a disease for every letter of the alphabet: (subscribe free)
As for there being an issue of licensing, the U.S. Constitution precludes all license laws.
"No state shall pass any law impairing the obligations of contracts." Art.1, Sec.10 If you contract to sell anything to me, the state has no authority to demand a license. If you contract with me to perform brain surgery on you, the state has no authority to demand a license. If you believe all surgeons should be licensed, promote an amandment to the U. S. Constitution that would require surgeons to be licensed. Licensed pilots crash their planes, licensed drivers wreck cars, trucks and motorcycles. Licensed real estate agents list properties that never sell, the patients of licensed doctors ALL die as well as the doctors themselves! The purpose of license laws is to pressure licensees into doing something that they would not do otherwise such as waive their rights on tax returns or applications for permits. Taxes cannot produce any revenue when the Fed said their system works us "only with credit" and our misleaders need no money when all of us are risking our lives for credit." Can't you see WE ARE SLAVES?

Anonymous said...

To be balanced, are you not aware of the fact that over eating on those foods are actually the problem, along with eating them full of drugs, etc. that harm human bodies? Moderation with anything God made is good. When mankind messes with the foodchain, our bodies can't process it right. Disease results. Most foods today are chemically altered, hence more doctors, more cancer. Don't forget, in those studies people ate white flour, altered grains, dairy, meats, and vegs. And I wonder how much they ate? Plus all the sugar, sodas, etc. that destroy health. Where were the real foods not tampered with by mankind in this study?

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