WI Case: Vernon Hershberger
Image: Farm Food Freedom Coalition
Wisconsin Amish dairy farmer, Vernon Hershberger of Loganville, has been charged with four misdemeanor counts for alleged violations of the Wisconsin food and dairy code. The charges are:
(1) operating a retail food establishment without a license,
(2) operating a dairy farm as a milk producer without a license,
(3) operating a dairy plant without a license and
(4) violating a holding order issued by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).
Vernon’s response to the verdict: “Praise the Lord! Now I can feed my community again.”
YOUR FUND AT WORK
Vernon, as a longtime member of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, is receiving free legal representation valued at tens of thousands of dollars. In addition to the legal fees, the Fund is paying for all court costs and expert witness expenses. The Fund is not an insurance company and cannot guarantee representation on all legal matters; possible representation is just one of the benefits of membership. View other FTCLDF Cases.
You can help the Fund by donating to defray the legal expenses involved in this important case.
Prefer to make a tax-deductible donation? For details,
go to www.farmtoconsumer.org/PIL
Vernon Hershberger and Family
“I want to strongly encourage everyone to think seriously about financially supporting the FTCLDF!
In the last year, besides The Almighty God, they are the only reason that I am still at home with my family instead of being in a jail cell.” — Vernon Hershberger
Update 6/13/2013: Fund attorneys Glen Reynolds and Elizabeth Rich report that Vernon was fined $1,000 and assessed a $513 in court fees by Judge Guy Reynolds at his sentencing hearing today at the Sauk County Courthouse in Barboo. Vernon Hershberger was facing up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $10,000 for violating the holding order. Two supporters attending the hearing wrote checks to cover all of the fine and court fees. Vernon was given NO jail time and NO probation.
Family Farming Attacked
The holding order prohibited anyone from removing food products from refrigerators that had been taped in Hershberger’s farm store. It started with the raid of his farm, Grazin’ Acres, in June 2010 and escalated from there [read "Wisconsin: DATCP Raids Hershberger Farm"].
Hershberger had been representing himself since the criminal complaint was filed against him in January 2012. In August 2012, Vernon requested FTCLDF represent him; his attorneys are FTCLDF Vice President Elizabeth Rich and Glenn Reynolds, both of Wisconsin.
Vernon rejected a plea bargain that could have kept him out of jail. He was told he could plead guilty to two of four misdemeanors. In exchange, he would have had to pay a fine, been placed on probation, and would have had to agree to never sell or distribute raw milk products without a license.
Visit www.VernonHershberger.com, a website paid for and maintained by concerned Wisconsin citizens.
Family photo from 2011, since then there’s been a new addition [Photo: HartkeIsOnline.com]
Vernon’s case has drawn national attention and various events have been held in conjunction with court proceedings and pre-trial hearings, mostly organized by the Farm Food Freedom Coalition, including the signing of the Food Declaration of Independence in May 2012.
For more about Vernon, read “Brave Farmer Takes a Stand for Personal Liberty and Private Contracts” by Kimberly Hartke.
Watch video of the Court Summons being issued in December 2011.
Photo of Vernon from 2011 at the Grazin’ Acres farm pantry [Photo: Baraboo News Republic]
The June 2010 raid on Vernon Hershberger’s organic dairy farm came weeks after then-Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill that would have allowed limited sales of raw milk.
Despite the timing of the raid, state officials denied that it had anything to do with the statewide controversy over raw milk. They said Hershberger was operating without the proper licenses.
[excerpt from Baraboo News Republic, "Business as usual at Grazin' Acres" by Tim Damos, 17 May 2011]
4th Count: Holding Order Violation
Vernon was acquitted on three of four charges against him. A sentencing hearing on the fourth charge has been scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Thursday, June 13th at the Sauk County Courthouse in Baraboo.
The maximum sentence that this count can have is: 1 year in jail and a $10,000 fine, plus pay the total value of the food that was under the holding order to the State.
Actions to Take
There are a number of things that people can do to help Vernon Hershberger and his family so that things might go better:
1. Pray that no matter what the sentence ends up being that the Truth can remain standing strong.
2. Write a letter to Judge Guy Reynolds and email your letter to Amy Salberg no later than Tuesday afternoon, June 11th. She plans to overnite the letters so Judge Reynolds receives them by Wednesday.
- Please address your letter to:
- The Honorable Judge Guy Reynolds
Sauk County Circuit Court
515 Oak Street
Baraboo, WI 53913
3. Attend the hearing if at all possible on June 13th.
4. Stay in touch with the family as much as possible to see if there is anything that is needed for support. To send emails, visit www.VernonHershberger.com/contact.html
|Baraboo, WI: Amy Salberg, Vernon Hershberger, Elizabeth Rich and Glenn Reynolds
[Photo: Cathy Raymond, May 2013]
Thank you very much for everything you all have done to help and support us! May the Lord Bless you all!!
Letters to the Judge
Your letter should be all about Vernon Hershberger and his character as you know it. If you do not know Vernon personally, then please write about why this issue is important to you and why you support Vernon.
Email your letter as an attachment to Attorney Amy Salberg at email@example.com (.pdf, .doc, .jpg, etc. are acceptable formats). She has been asked by Judge Reynolds to collect the letters and then pass them on to him. Please do not attempt to contact the judge directly.
The letter should be about your personal relationship with Vernon and his family. Both parents and children can write separate letters and also anyone else that personally knows the Hershbergers.
Vernon and Erma ask that the following points NOT be mentioned in your letter to the Judge:
- No degrading remarks to or about the Judge; he is probably as sick and tired of this case as any of us.
- No degrading remarks about the State or the prosecutors; they are just doing their job. Let’s be an example to them and show them how to respectfully stand up and say NO!
- Try and steer clear of political issues, raw milk bills, legislation, etc.
The following points can be mentioned and expounded upon however you see fit. Please keep your letters short, like one side of a page or so.
A. How long you have known the Hershberger family and how it came about that you got to know them.
B. What your interaction has been with them since the time you got to know them. Making special note to the fact of interactions with Vernon.
C. How you and your family have been blessed by what they are doing for you.
D. What effect it will have on you and your family if they stop what they are doing.
Remember, this should all be about Vernon Hershberger and his character as you know it.
Email your letter to Judge Guy Reynolds by Tuesday afternoon, June 11th
Email your letter as an attachment to Attorney Amy Salberg at firstname.lastname@example.org
Video posted December 10, 2012 by Healthfreedom2012 on YouTube
Video: The Court Summons Hershberger Raw Dairy Farm
Video posted December 10, 2011 by therawmilkparty on YouTube
“Raw Milk Farmer Accused of Selling Raw Milk Stays Free”, video posted March 2, 2012 by News WISC posted at on Channel3000.com
More about the signing of the Declaration of Food Independence
Last Updated: 6/9/2013
Some content originally posted at