In Baraboo Case, Defendant Avers That It’s Raw Milk That’s On Trial


A trial is underway in Baraboo, for a Sauk County farmer who’s been selling raw milk through a private buying club.

Vernon Hershberger and his supports contend that it’s raw milk that’s on trial this week in Baraboo, but the state says it’s about license violations.

Hershberger’s attorney Glen Reynolds said in today’s opening statements that since Hershberger sells his products through a private buying club, he does not need a license. He says club members are co-owners of the farm, and some financially invest in the cows that produce milk: “Some basically exchange labor, some work for free. But they all basically contribute to basic fee that allows them to be leaseholders, if you will.”

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The state argues that Vernon Hershberger operated without three particular licenses and violated a holding order when he continued to sell raw milk after the state ordered him not to.

Department of Justice assistant attorney general Phillip Ferris says Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection inspectors found that Hershberger operated a dairy farm and a dairy-processing plant without a license.

He says inspectors also found he operated a retail food establishment without a license: “They found [an] upright glass refrigerator that had such things as milk, cottage cheese, and cheese from another manufacturer available. They found eggs available.”

Hershberger and club members built a facility known as The Pantry that sold a number of items.

The defense argues that the store can operate as part of the private buying club.

Hershberger’s trial is expected to last until Friday.