Things are coming to a fiery head in Baraboo, Wisconsin this week as supporters, big league food freedom heroes, and non-corporate media activists gather outside the court house in solidarity to support fresh food farmer Vernon Hershberger. The big trial started on Monday and reportedly goes until Friday.
As you may have heard, Hershberger is facing over two years prison time and $10,000 in fines for four criminal misdemeanor charges aimed at him for providing fresh food to his community through members in agreement – mainly for breaking a holding order. For more details into the background story including a raid, government destruction of his food and previous hearings, check our running story.
Simply put, the government would like to eradicate “herd share” type agreements that act outside the State. But, that would be similar to outlawing horse boarding, co-ops and Craigslist interactions. Agents twist this practice so that it magically becomes a “retail establishment.” There seems to be a major bias from the court against Vernon, but he remains in good spirits and can be seen on Facebook pages smiling with his supporters.
ALL eyes are on Hershberger this week, including non-raw dairy industry experts, as this case is expected to set a legal precedent, according to them. The “legalities” here are under heated debate. You can watch too, with the streaming video below.
David Gumpert (Raw Milk Revolution), Mark Baker of Baker’s Green Acres, Liz Reitzig, Michael Badnarik, Mark McAffe, Eusatce Conway, Derrick J, Weston A. Price Foundation leaders and many more are out there lending their support.
The First Amendment was the first casualty in the case. Although it sounds like it comes from a Monty Python movie (The Life of Brian), the words “raw milk” are not allowed to be spoken during the trial. Mark McAffe was ordered to cover his shirt because it said: “get raw milk.” A teenager wearing a “Raw Milk Me” button was asked to remove it before entering.
What happened today (Day 4) was perhaps most surprising. According to a Facebook status update from Liz Reitzig:
Hershberger judge OKs prosecution objections to defense atty saying WI farmer’s “liberty” be at stake — no more mention of “liberty” allowed. [emphasis added]
Farm Food Freedom Coalition reported earlier this week:
In the court room right now. Defense arguing for showing photos and facts of the farm to the jury. Prosecution doesn’t want to allow any facts of the farm. Saying it’s “irrelevant.”
Prosecution is asking that evidence about memberships not be allowed.
Of course they don’t want the jury to hear about memberships – it would blow the whole lid on the absurdity of charging this man. David Gumpert reports from the first day:
The two sides in the case were engaged in an intense argument over a prosecution motion to prevent the defense from presenting information to the jury about the membership arrangement that drives Hershberger’s food club; such a prohibition would prevent the defense from including among its witnesses members of Hershberger’s private food club.
Just to be clear, there is no other way to provide farm fresh milk in Wisconsin! They are charging him in part for not having licenses, then playing slight-of-hand with the jury by squelching certain words and calling it retail. There is no such thing as a raw milk license in Wisconsin.
So no matter what – he is a lawbreaker. And that’s the message they want to drive home to the jury. If there was ever a time we needed jury nullification and informed jurors – it’s now.
This is far from over, regardless of the verdict expected tomorrow. And I feel like I could go on forever about the clear first amendment violations. So please check back with us for continuing updates.
Streaming is available through Justin.TV. Note: Streaming may not be live at all times. Click the link below the vid for more details:
Watch live video from farmfoodfreedom on www.justin.tv
For those in the area, there are still events planned today and tomorrow:
LOCATION: Baraboo Court House, 515 Oak St, Baraboo, WI 53913
Farmer Faces Over 2 Years Jail, $10K Fines for Feeding Community
Pre-Trial Hearing Begins For Farmer Targeted by Raw Milk Police; Legal Concerns Begin to Mount
Last Year’s Rally & Hearings for Vernon Hershberger with Footage of Inspections
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