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FTCLDF Appeals in Wisconsin Raw Milk Case

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Healthy Raw Milk page.

The state of Wisconsin is one of a handful of states that is aggressively targeting raw-milk farmers, seeking to criminalize their methods of food production.

Wisconsin dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger was among the latest targets, charged with four criminal misdemeanors for supplying a private buying club with raw milk and other fresh produce.

He was acquitted of three of the four charges, and now the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) is appealing the jury verdict of the fourth charge

Was This Wisconsin Raw Milk Farmer Unfairly Charged?

After Hershberger was acquitted of three of the four charges, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a motion to revoke Hershberger's bail and instead send him to jail for a fourth charge of violating a holding order.

This required that he not sell any food or milk from his store as a condition of his bail. Hershberger openly admitted that he had violated the order and broke seals to get into his coolers, in part to retrieve food to feed his own family.

As a result, jurors had no choice but to find him guilty of this charge, and he was sentenced to pay a $1,000 fine plus $513 in court costs. Hershberger avoided jail time and the maximum possible fine of $10,000, but several of the jurors noted that state prosecutors and the county judge withheld key information that would have exonerated him of even the hold-order charge.

According to FTCLDF, the jury received a heavily redacted hold order, which stated Hershberger's food was "misbranded or adulterated" when in fact the food was neither.

Attorneys for the case believe this missing piece of information would have been enough for the jury to clear Hershberger on all charges. According to attorney Elizabeth Rich:

"Had the jury been given enough information to understand the totality of the circumstances, we believe they wouldn't have convicted Vernon of violating the holding order. His conviction was not consistent with the jury's acquittal on the other three count."

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