Deputies, inspectors make early morning visit to raw milk supplier

By Jessica VanEgeren | Posted: Thursday, June 10, 2010 10:56 am | (12) Comments 

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Jessica is the State Capitol reporter for The Capital Times. She previously covered business in the Madison area and state government and politics in South Carolina. 

Early this morning as the Hershberger family was eating breakfast, officers with the Sauk County Sheriff’s Department and state inspectors paid a visit to the known raw-milk supplier’s property.Erma Hershberger said several of her nine children were in the farm’s store, with the door locked, when officials attempted to serve her and her husband, Vernon, with a warrant to search the property. The children did not open the door, Erma said by phone Thursday morning. 

“This is pretty traumatic for our family,” Erma said. “We hope this will end soon … but I don’t think it will.”Erma said her husband called the sheriff’s department and asked that the officers leave their property. Officers complied, with an inspector with the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection then calling Vernon to request a visit for 10 a.m.

 Officials showed up at 10 a.m., only to again be denied access to the farm’s “member’s only” store. Items in the store include meats and dairy products, including raw milk.

 “They left the property and are now consulting with law enforcement officials on the next steps,” said Lee Sensenbrenner, a DATCP spokesperson. 

Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill that would have allowed limited raw milk sales in May. Since then, numerous visits have been made to farms known to be selling raw milk.In addition to selling raw milk, Hershberger is also operating a store without a retail food license and does not have a dairy license, two additional legal strikes against him in the state’s eyes.

 Erma said supporters were at the farm, filming the state’s visit and remained on their property as a show of support.

For those who have not been following the raw milk debate, Hershberger was paid a visit June 2 by DATCP inspectors, who were coming to the farm because Hershberger failed to complete a routine questionnaire after choosing not to renew his Grade B dairy license in February. 

A day after Hershberger was told to close up shop, he defied the state and opened his store for business. That same day, he created a herd-lease program for his cows.Such programs allow people to lease farms animals, in this case cows, from the farmer. Hershberger says this gives the roughly 100 families who consider themselves part of the lease program “ownership” in the farm. 

By law, only farm owners, their families and their employees can drink raw milk. The validity of that argument will be tested soon in Dane County Circuit Court under a separate, but similar, case set to begin Tuesday. Posted in Blog on Thursday, June 10, 2010 10:56 am Updated: 12:52 pm. Vernon Hershberger, Lee Sensenbrenner, Gov. Jim Doyle, Raw Milk

Published in: on June 11, 2010 at 8:06 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I want a cow, that would be awesome. Except for all the cow shit.

  2. Me too and some goats!

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