Consumers’ Right to Opt Out of Conventional Food Supply is at Risk
by Kimberly Hartke
Wisconsin, the state of cheeseheads and dairy farms, is putting raw milk on trial. Rather, putting private buying clubs for raw milk on trial. Dairyman Vernon Hershberger is a symbol of food rights and freedoms for all U.S. citizens. Vernon, through private contractual arrangement with 200 educated consumers in his community, has built a solid business model that sustainably supports his large family.
In a day and age where we have way too many people living off government largess, we have to ask ourselves, is it not the over-regulation of even private commerce that is hindering families from supporting themselves?
For consumers who obtain raw milk through private contract, this case is very significant. If the state of Wisconsin succeeds in making this father a criminal for his private concern, some raw milk activists believe the precedent could be used to hinder such dealings elsewhere. Cowshares, goat shares, Community Supported Agriculture, even sharing produce from your backyard garden could fall under scrutiny or be prohibited.
Vernon is providing life enhancing food to families who are partners in his farm. In many cases, these families have dire need of a pure, clean, untainted natural product. There are numerous health issues which caused families to sign a private contract to procure fresh milk. Because of the heavily controlled dairy industry, fresh milk is hard to come by in a retail setting. Some of the farm’s members find raw milk to be helpful for weight loss, infant formula, allergies, lactose intolerance, allergies to commercial dairy, dermatitis. A number of members in the group found relief from asthma and arthritis symptoms after adding farm fresh milk to their diet.
A large percentage of members also invest their time and energy in the farm. Members do work on the farm, by sterilizing jars, stocking shelves, sorting and washing eggs, helping milk the cows and with other farm chores, organizing the pantry, etc.
“This is our farm, our animals, our food, we have a right to access this food”, says club member, Jenny Delonay.
Raw milk activists who have supported Vernon Hershberger throught this ordeal say the outcome of his trial could set precedent for all food clubs around the country. If Vernon is found guilty, this hardworking farmer may go to prison for more than a year. It is possible that such a verdict will start a cascade of criminal charges, or the threat of criminal charges against other family farmers around the nation.
Be a Part of Raw Milk History!
Concerned citizens are invited by Farm Food Freedom Coalition (FFFC) to attend the trial, May 20-24, 2013. The courtroom will accommodate 80 visitors, and another room of the courthouse holds 200 for overflow. Across the street, another venue which holds 680 will be available where you will be able to view the trial.
Join FFFC for a Grow Your Food Freedom meeting and networking event happening in conjunction with the trial. Notable speakers/activists from around the country will be sharing their knowledge at this community event. There will be movie screenings in the evenings. It will be at the Ringling Brothers Theater across the street from the courthouse. (schedule forthcoming) Local/real foods lunches and dinners will be available to purchase. Bring Your Own Raw Milk. Please join the Farm Food Freedom Coalition and stand in solidarity for food and farmer rights.
While Vernon Hershberger is on trial in the courtroom, raw milk is on trial in the court of public opinion. Make sure you facebook this post. Educate your friends. Make sure the world knows what is at stake for food freedom and consumer choice. Donate to support the Grow Your Food Freedom special event.
If you are interested in making a contribution to the legal defense of Vernon Hershberger please support the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. Vice President of Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, Elizabeth Rich is co-counsel for Vernon Hershberger.
For more information see FarmersOnTrial.com.
We can’t let the dairy industry and other powers that be cut off access to the consumer’s food of choice!
Kimberly Hartke is a publicist for the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund and the Weston A. Price Foundation.