Tim Damos at the Baraboo News Republic reported today that a raw dairy farmer whose farm was raided nearly a year ago for selling raw milk products hasn’t heard a thing from state authorities ever since. Moreover, the farmer, Vernon Hershberger, continues to sell raw milk.
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. State officials denied the raid had anything to do with the controversy over raw milk. They said Hershberger was operating without proper licenses.
But more than 11 months later, Hershberger is still distributing raw milk and dairy products through his shop, Grazin’ Acres in Loganville, about 50 miles northwest of Madison. He said he hasn’t heard from state officials since last summer.
“They haven’t been in contact since July 8, the last time they were here,” Hershberger said Monday. “The way it looks to me, they can’t find anybody to file charges.”
Hershberger continues to sell dairy products under a new arrangement in which members lease farm animals. He said he no longer needs a dairy license, because his customers had become part owners of the animals that produced their dairy products. State officials disagree with his interpretation of the law.
States are free to choose whether to allow sales of raw dairy products within their borders, just as the FDA can regulate interstate sales of the products. But one thing raw dairy farmers are entitled to is consistency in application of the laws. If farmers choose to sell raw milk in violation of state law, they should be stopped from doing so. The legislature has already balanced the competing interests and decided that public health requires it. And once and for all, states need to come to terms with the false notion that a cow share agreement is a proper vehicle for the distribution of raw milk where state law bans its sale. Consistency in application of law should not be merely an ideal.