Farmer Faces Jail for Feeding Community

Vernon Hershberger Case


For Immediate Release

Customers and Other Supporters to
Attend Court with Farmer

May 8, 2013—Baraboo, WI—(GlobeNewswire)–Food rights activists from around North America will meet at the Sauk County Courthouse in this tiny town on May 20 to support Wisconsin dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger and food sovereignty. Hershberger, whose trial begins that day, is charged with four criminal misdemeanors that could land this husband and father in county jail for up to 30 months with fines of over $10,000.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) targeted Hershberger for supplying a private buying club with fresh milk and other farm products.

DATCP has charged Hershberger with, among other things, operating a retail food establishment without a license. Hershberger repeatedly rejects this, citing that he provides foods only to paid members in a private buying club and is not subject to state food regulations. “There is more at stake here than just a farmer and his few customers,” says Hershberger, “this is about the fundamental right of farmers and consumers to engage in peaceful, private, mutually consenting agreements for food, without additional oversight.”

[Photo: Farm Food Freedom Coalition]
Vernon Hershberger represented himself at pre-trial hearings in early 2012

More about Vernon Hershberger

Grow Your Food Freedom

Declaration of Food Independence

Farm Raids

A little more than a year ago, food rights activists from around the country stood in support of Hershberger at a pre-trial hearing. They read and signed a “Declaration of Food Independence” that asserts inherent rights in food choice. This month after the trial each day, many of the same food rights activists plus others will gather at the Al Ringling Theater across the street from the courthouse and hear presentations by leaders in the food rights movement. Notable speakers include Virginia farmer Joel Salatin, Mountain Man show star Eustace Conway, and food rights organizer from Maine, Deborah Evans.

Hershberger, and other farmers around the country, are facing state or federal charges against them for providing fresh foods to wanting individuals. In recent months the FDA has conducted several long undercover sting operations and raids against peaceful farmers and buying clubs that have resulted in farms shutting down and consumers without access to the food they depend on.

Liz Reitzig, Co-founder of Farm Food Freedom Coalition
301-807-5063, [email protected]

Pete Kennedy, President of Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund
703-208-3276, [email protected]


Vernon Hershberger, Max Kane, and Liz Reitzig in 2012 just before the signing of the Declaration of Food Freedom [Photo:]  

Let the World Know You
Believe in Raw Milk!

Calling all raw milk activists, believers, food freedom folks! Join the Farm Food Freedom Coalition for Grow Your Food Freedom–a week of celebration, education, and support for beloved farmer, Vernon Hershberger and our raw milk rights. Liz Reitzig and a team of volunteers have organized an AMAZING line-up of speakers coming to Baraboo to stand strong with Vernon! Read More

May 20-24, 2013 – Sauk County Courthouse in Baraboo, Wisconsin

1. Attend the trial and events.

2. Donate to Vernon’s legal defense or in support of Grow Your Food Freedom events.

3. Bring Your Own Raw Milk! This is a BYORM event! Stand in solidarity with Vernon and other peaceful farmers who are being criminalized for distribution of fresh milk! Bring your own to this event!

Schedule for the Grow Your Food Freedom Events

Monday-Thursday of the trial, Farm Food Freedom will host a catered lunch (Chipotle) and a catered dinner featuring local foods and drink in the Al Ringling Theater across the street from the courthouse. Lunch and dinner will have a cost but the proceeds are going to Vernon and other local food efforts. Each day will also feature a brief recap of the trial.

Monday — Mark McAfee and Michael Badnarik will speak followed, most likely, by a screening of Farmageddon.

Tuesday — Ajna Sharma-Wilson, attorney from California who worked with Rawesome, Deborah Evans from Bagaduce Farm in Maine, Mark Baker from Michigan, and Alvin Schlangen from Minnesota will discuss challenges and successes in the food freedom movement. They will be followed by a debate on legalization vs decriminalization of raw milk moderated by David Gumpert. That will be followed by a discussion of food sharing structures (e.g. food clubs, coops, herd shares etc.).

Wednesday — Cornucopia Institute Founder Mark Kastel will be leading a discussion on “the bigger picture of food” including GMOs, getting a consumer base active and involved. That will be followed by a screening of Genetic Roulette.

Thursday — Joel Salatin from Polyface Farm in Virginia and Eustace Conway from Turtle Island Preserve in North Carolina will join in for a discussion on food and farming freedom; and David Gumpert will be speaking on and signing copies of his BRAND NEW (that is the first day it will be available) book, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Food Rights.

Friday — The last day there will be lunch in the theater but not supper. After the trial, the gathering will meet in the nearby park (weather permitting) and discuss results and next steps. See you there!!!

Last Updated: May 8, 2013
Event added May 11, 2013