As most of you know, I live in Wisconsin and we have been in the media quite a bit here recently. On March 2 there will be a rally, which I plan on attending, in support of a local Amish farmer, Vernon Hershberger. Vernon Hershberger is a local Amish farmer who was arrested by the Wisconsin Department of Agricultural Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) for selling fresh milk and other fresh produce and this could put him in jail for up to 3 years and with fines reaching over $10,000!
Hershberger provides food for only paid members of a private buying club and is suppose to not be subject to state food regulations. I am a member of a group very similar and I have to tell you, there was a ton of red tape I had to go through in order to get my fresh milk. My husband and I went through the Weston A. Price Foundation to find a local farmer that we could get fresh meats and fresh milk from. We quickly noticed how quickly we were being screened to make sure we had no connections with the government. After talking to about 3 different group of people, we finally stumbled upon a small family owned farm that was willing to sell us raw milk. So we drove the 45 minutes to visit the farm and we were given strict instruction on how we were able to obtain the milk.
We first had to become employees of the farm. We signed a waiver form and they showed us were the jar was to put our money to pay for the milk. We then were taken over to the tanks which held the raw milk and we were given instruction on how to get the milk and clean up after ourselves. We were instructed to park the car in a certain spot and turn our headlights off. We were also given the days (odds or even) that we could pick up milk and these days would switch from month to month. I asked the farmer why they always switched it and they informed me that the government is always sending officials that sit on the side of the street to see if they were selling the milk, which again is allowed, an legal, as long as we became employees. Several times we would get e-mails informing us that the farm was closed due to an expected “inspection”. My husband commented, all this for real food…food that was intended to be consumed this way, the natural and healthy way? I have to admit, I was quite surprised at how involved the government had become, it was never this way when I grew up.
I grew up in Ohio in an area that was full of farmers and a very large Amish community. We bought locally from Amish families and always respected their beliefs in a simpler life. The Amish don’t believe in heavy equipment and machinery to farm their lands. They still use horses to plow their fields and adhere to the traditional beliefs of farming. All of their food is naturally organic and is of course GMO-Free. Twenty years ago, the Amish were protected because this was their “Religious Beliefs”.
Vernon Hershberger was quoted as saying this to the judge in his sentencing. ”If our farm stopped feeding its owners’ families, there will be literally hundreds of children who will suffer malnutrition and even starvation. Your honor, I would much rather spend the rest of my life behind bars or even die than to be found guilty of such a gross sin before the Almighty God.”
“I am proud of what I am doing. There is nothing wrong with peacefully providing food to members of my community who want it,” claims Hershberger. “The state might put me in jail, but they cannot stop people from feeding their neighbors.”