The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has been on the farm of Vernon and Erma Hershberger (Grazin’ Acres) three times in the past week. The Hershbergers have been distributing products of the farm to members of a private buying club. DATCP is trying to shut down their operation and has referred the matter to the Sauk County District Attorney even though there have been no complaints against Grazin’ Acres nor any record of food produced at the farm ever making anyone ill.
The Hershbergers need your help in order to continue to provide healthy food to the many members of the buying club.
ACTION TO TAKE
1. DATCP has referred the Hershbergers’ case to the Sauk County District Attorney, Patricia Barrett, for potential prosecution. Everyone is urged to contact Barrett’s office and request that she not prosecute the Hershberger case. Sauk County residents are especially encouraged to contact the District Attorney and inform her that you will not vote for her the next election if she pursues the Hershberger case. The District Attorney has already taken so many calls on this case that they are no longer accepting them; but you can still contact the DA’s office by email, fax and/or postal mail. Here is the contact information:
Patricia Barrett, Esq.
Sauk County District Attorney
Sauk County Court House
515 Oak Street
Baraboo, WI 53913
Phone (608) 355-3280
2. Contact the Sauk County Sheriff’s office and urge them not to participate in any investigation of the Hershbergers. Here is the contact information:
Randy Stammen, Sheriff
Sauk County Sheriff
Law Enforcement Center
1300 Lange Court
Baraboo, WI 53913
Admin Phone (608) 355-3207
Fax (608) 355-3598
3. Use the talking points at the end of this alert to persuade the County DA and the Sheriff not to pursue the Hershberger case.
4. Enlist others to join in this campaign to help the Hershbergers and farms like Grazin’ Acres.
On June 2, DATCP officials, Jacqueline Owens and Cathleen Anderson along with Sauk County Health Department officials and deputies of the County Sheriff descended upon Vernon and Erma Hershberger’s dairy farm, Grazin’ Acres in Loganville, to execute a “special inspection” warrant. DATCP inspectors taped freezers in the Hershbergers’ farm store and placed a hold order on thousands of dollars of food in the store, mostly raw milk and raw milk products. Under the hold order, the Hershbergers were prohibited from selling or even moving any of the food in the taped freezers. DATCP sent inspectors out to the farm because the Hershbergers had refused to comply with an intrusive request by the agency for documents and information going back over seven years.
The Hershbergers’ on-farm store sold products only to members of the private buying club. Vernon told reporters that under the Constitution, he was allowed to enter into private contracts and that DATCP had no jurisdiction over his operation. DATCP has referred the matter to the Sauk County District Attorney.
On June 8, Owens and Anderson returned to the farm without a warrant, attempting to conduct another inspection of the farm store. Vernon refused the request for an inspection and the officials left his premises. Before leaving, they served Vernon a ‘Special Order’ which could subject him to fines of up to $5,000 per violation if he is not in compliance with Wisconsin food and dairy laws.
On June 10, Owens and Anderson again returned to the farm, this time with a warrant but the store doors were locked; so, again they left without searching the store.
POINTS TO MAKE
1. The County DA and Sheriff should not be spending taxpayer money, pursuing cases like this in which there is no victim or injury. There has been no complaint filed by anyone against the Hershbergers.
2. The only injury in a case like this occurs when the farmer or food distributor is prosecuted and consumers who were obtaining foods they deem best for their health and the health of their families have now lost their source of those foods.
3. The right of consumers to obtain the foods of their choice from the source of their choice is a political issue; cases like this in which there has been no injury do not belong in the courts nor should the Sheriff be participating in any investigation of them. The County DA and Sheriff should exercise their discretion not to get involved in these cases.
4. With the tough economic times and all the cutbacks in government spending, the County DA and Sheriff should not be using their remaining enforcement dollars pursuing victimless crimes.
5. Let the County DA and Sheriff know how food direct from farms has benefitted your health and the health of your family.
PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL WHEN YOU CONTACT THESE OFFICIALS