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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Farmer Hershberger Attorneys Seek Full Vindication with Appeal

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Heather Callaghan

All’s well that ends well, right? Perhaps it’s just not over yet. Were you in any way a part of the riveting saga of raw dairy farmer and private food club coordinator Vernon Hershberger? If you read anything about it you may have been amazed at the long battle the state of Wisconsin waged against him, threatening to put him in jail for three years, destroying his property, maligning his intentions, and obfuscating the facts to blind the jury responsible for vindicating him on three counts of licensing accusations, but guilty on the last count of breaking the holding order issued after a raid in June 2010. 

The jury was upset to find out more afterward; for instance, that the holding order was based on the licensing issues for which they acquitted Vernon. Any prosecutor documents they were allowed to see were heavily redacted. They befriended Vernon and some joined his food club which now has 100 new members, and petitioned Judge Guy Reynolds for lenient punishment. Towards the end, Hershberger still faced a maximum penalty of $10,000 dollars in fines and possible probation. The final punishment was around $1500 paid by a couple of supporters. All seemed well; closure, relief.

Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund who sent experienced attorneys to help the Hershbergers are not entirely satisfied with the victory. They are largely responsible for helping persecuted farmers and raising awareness of farm and food freedom rights. They want full vindication for Hershberger and for food rights….

FTCLDF reports:

The jury was also charged with determining whether or not a hold order was issued, and whether or not Hershberger had violated the order. The hold order was placed on Hershberger’s coolers in the farm store by the Wisconsin Department of Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) on June 2, 2010.

During his trial, a heavily redacted hold order was submitted to the jury for review. Attorneys handling the case believe the jury would have cleared Hershberger of all charges had they seen the full hold order. The redacted portion of the order said the food was “misbranded or adulterated.” Attorneys believe Hershberger would have presented a convincing argument that the food was neither adulterated nor misbranded.

Attorneys retained by FTCLDF include Elizabeth Rich, Glenn Reynolds, and Amy Salberg. They filed an appeal July 2nd. They are appealing the jury verdict in State of Wisconsin [Plaintiff] v. Vernon Hershberger [Defendant]. They filed in District IV of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and it is likely the case will be reviewed by a three-judge panel.

Rich says:

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 counts.

Hershberger was happy to get back to working his dairy farm, Grazin’ Acres. His food club feeds over 200 families. An appeal like this might send a clear message to Wisconsin and beyond to stop wasting our money to harass and use undue force against peaceful farmers who feed their communities.

FTCLDF is a non-profit organization that provides defense for farmers like Vernon Hershberger. If you’d like to continue helping the Hershbergers, not only with this case, but to offset the costs from the previous arduous battle, you might consider donating. Another form of support, as Vernon has mentioned is to support yourself and your local farmers by joining a nearby food club.

You might find yours here: 20 Places to Find Local Food and Family Farms Near You

Anyone wanting to make a contribution towards legal expenses can make a donation online or send a check to:


8116 Arlington Blvd, # 263

Falls Church, VA 22042

Prefer to make a tax-deductible donation? For details,

go to

FTCLDF thanks you for your support!

Background stories from most recent to earliest - check these out to better understand peaceful activism, jury rights, food law, and the attacks on food and farm freedom:

Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work and Like at Facebook.

Read Other Articles by Heather Callaghan

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