May 12, 2013

Farmer Faces Over 2 Years Jail, $10K Fines for Feeding Community in Wisconsin

Things are heating up in Baraboo, Wisconsin as a long awaited food rights trial approaches.

Raw milk drinkers are outraged that Wisconsin DATCP is bringing criminal charges against a farmer who serves a private buying club. Do citizens have a right to contract with a producer and grow food to their own standards? That is what is at stake in this case. - Kimberly Hartke, Publicist Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund


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 Agricultural 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.

Hershberger says:

There is more at stake here than just a farmer and his few customers -- this is about the fundamental right of farmers and consumers to engage in peaceful, private, mutually consenting agreements for food, without additional oversight.

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.

Vernon has faced a lot of pre-hearings and postponements already.Legal concerns are mounting. Printable flyers and an account from his May 7th hearing appear here.

This is a landmark precedent-setting case that could forever change food access rights. In addition, did you know that a Wisconsin judge who declared that we have no inherent right to the healthy foods of our choice retired and went to work for Monsanto?

Watch for more info and a recap on the battle:



  1. This is probably one of the major reasons billionaire Jim Rogers pulled up stakes and moved his entire family to Singapore. He knows what's going on, and most of us don't

  2. The ongoing conversion of every Bureau into military authoritarian enforcement arms for corporations like Monsanto rather than agencies providing any useful services to independent citizens

  3. I guess if Jesus tried to feed the multitude with loaves and fishes in Wisconsin he would have been jailed.

  4. Is Wisconsin a developing country?
    The assault on Americans and their right can be attributed to a unfamiliar policy referred to as Cooperative Federalism . In essence, the system is designed to facilitate defacto government encroachment in the several states, by creating a state within a state.
    Case in point, Congress created the Food for Peace program, (7 U.S.C. 1691 et seq),an international agreement, administered through the Department of Interior,(Agriculture) (Commodity Credit Corporation), hats are changed, according to the background.
    One of the pertinent provisions of the Act, is that it's not be exercised in the several states. With that as a background, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer authority, amended per Public Law 111-8, sec. 732, reproduced below, is limited to the Food for Peace Act, for developing countries.

    “jurisdiction once challenged cannot be presumed” numerous court decisions.

    § 1701. Economic assistance and food security
    (a) In general
    The President shall establish a program under this subchapter to provide for the sale of agricultural commodities to developing countries and private entities for dollars on credit terms, or for local currencies (including for local currencies on credit terms) for use under this subchapter. Such program shall be implemented by the Secretary.
    (b) General authority
    To carry out the policies and accomplish the objectives described in section 1691 of this title, the
    Secretary may negotiate and execute agreements with developing countries and private entities to
    finance the sale and exportation of agricultural commodities to such countries and entities.

    2009 Amendments


    [[Page 123 STAT. 524]]

    Public Law 111-8
    111th Congress
    Sec. 718. None of the funds made available in fiscal year 2009 or
    preceding fiscal years for programs authorized under the Food for Peace
    Act (7 U.S.C. 1691 et seq.) in excess of $20,000,000 shall be used to reimburse the Commodity Credit Corporation for the release of eligible commodities under section 302(f)(2)(A) of the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust Act (7 U.S.C. 1736f-1): Provided, That any such funds made available to reimburse the Commodity Credit Corporation shall only be used pursuant to section 302(b)(2)(B)(i) of the Bill Emerson
    Humanitarian Trust Act.

    Sec. 732. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, there is
    hereby appropriated:
    (1) $1,877,000 of which $1,408,000 shall be for a grant to the *Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, and $469,000 shall be for a grant to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Foods, and Markets, as authorized by section 6402 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (7 U.S.C. 1621 note);