Wisconsin’s Most Famous Raw-Milk Advocate Opposes Bill Requiring LicensingFood Safety News
By Dan Flynn, September 12, 2013
Since a Wisconsin jury decided Vernon Hershberger did not need a license to sell raw farm products directly to consumers, he is not in a mood to support a bill to allow on-the-farm sales of raw milk but only with a license requirement.
The Sauk County farmer was an early star witness Wednesday at a public hearing at the State Capitol in Madison on newly introduced House and Senate bills to allow licensed dairies to sell raw milk directly to the public. In May, Hershberger was acquitted on charges of operating a farm store without a retail food establishment permit, operating a dairy farm without a milk producer license, and operating a dairy plant without a license.
In his appearance before the Senate Financial Institutions and Rural Issues Committee, Hershberger said he understands the need for some licenses, such as the one he has for driving on public roads. But, he said, just as his 14-year old son does not need a license to drive a farm truck around his or his neighbor’s farm, the jury in Baraboo agreed he does not need a license to sell his raw products directly to the public.
“I am allowed to do what I do without a license,” he told the packed hearing room. Hershberger was found guilty on one misdemeanor count for breaking the seal on food put under a hold by state inspectors. He is appealing that conviction.
For the first time since former Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill to permit on-the-farm sales of raw milk in 2010, the Wisconsin Legislature is taking up the issue again in its session now under way in Madison. The committee assigned to review Senate Bill 236 (and its companion bill in the House) was scheduled to take five hours of public testimony on Wednesday. It has another public hearing scheduled for Sept. 16 on the campus of the University of Wisconsin in Lacrosse.
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