Raw Milk Raids in Wisconsin and California

Vernon Hershberger, busted for distributing raw milk
Vernon Hershberger, Busted for Distributing Raw Milk

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

Does this man look like a criminal to you? Like someone running a meth lab in his basement? Does he look like a menace to society?

To me, he looks like a farmer. Vernon Hershberger is a family man with a small plot of land in America's dairy state, Wisconsin. He's a man of faith, who tends to his cows and cares for his kids.

I've met Vernon Hershberger in person. He struck me as kind, unassuming, and a good citizen. Not only that, but he makes some of the best raw milk cheese I've ever tasted. And that's high praise coming from me.

Why Is the Government Raiding Small Raw Milk Dairy Farmers?

Why is the Wisconsin state government treating Vernon Hershberger like a criminal? Why are sheriffs wielding guns repeatedly raiding his farm? Why are they confiscating his computers and destroying thousands of dollars worth of his milk and cheese?

Why are they trying to put Vernon out of business? He's providing a service to his community and support his family — milking cows, making cheese, churning butter. What's he doing that's so wrong?

Two words: RAW MILK.

Watch this video produced by raw milk activist, Max Kane (I laughed and I cried):

I spoke to Max on the phone about the video. He told me that they have an “emergency phone tree” set up so farmers can call for help when they're being raided.

Vernon Hershberger busted for selling raw milk

When I asked him what Vernon had done wrong, Max said, “They have done nothing wrong.” He said the Hershbergers run a private buying club. If someone wants to buy dairy products from Mr. Hershberger, they he or she must become a members of the buying club and sign a contract.

These people are aware of the risks of consuming unpasteurized dairy products. They know what they are getting into. And yet they insist on buying them anyway.

So why are these government officials so hell-bent on protecting people who don't want to be protected?

Is This Really About Our Safety?

You can buy cigarettes or alcohol in retail outlets across the United States. The annual deaths caused by these products is documented. People know the risks, and they choose to buy them anyway.

If it really is about safety, how come the cops aren't raiding the distilleries and tobacco plants?

If it's about safety, how come no SWAT teams showed up to bust the factory farms that recently produced all those salmonella-tainted eggs, or all the meat with listeria? Where were the cops then?

Raids in California

This isn't just happening in Wisconsin. Another farm raid took place on June 30th here where I live, at my local private buying club, a place called Rawesome in Venice, California.

Here's a video about the Rawesome raid:

What's Going On?

Whether the folks at Rawesome have all the right permits or not, and whether Vernon Hershberger has the right to sell his dairy products to private citizens is not really the issue here.

I'm questioning why our government officials feel the need to raid these buying clubs with guns. Is that really necessary? And why do they need to confiscate all the food?

What is really going on here?

Statement from Michael Schmidt

It is interesting to note that both Hershberger and Rawesome are still in business. Hershberger is openly defying the authorities. His customers, some of them healing from illnesses, rely on their raw milk and he is committed to providing it to them.

Raw Milk Farmer, Michael Schmidt

I was very moved by this quote from Canadian raw dairy farmer, another hero in the raw milk wars, Michael Schmidt, which I read on The Bovine:

Farmer Vernon Hershberger has changed with his act of defiance the entire dynamic in the raw milk battle in the US.

What Max Kane has done for the consumers, Vernon Hershberger is doing right now for the farmers.

Finally we have a farmer who openly challenges Government bureaucrats with courage and determination. It will be of utmost importance that those who truly believe in individual rights and fundamental freedom to rise up and join Vernon Hershberger.

His act of open resistance will become a milestone in this battle for food rights and fundamental freedom.

Everyone is called upon to stand behind the Hershberg Family in any way possible.

The next weeks will be extremely crucial: this will of defiance will spread like wildfire.

It is not about you and me this is about our children and our future.

Thanks Max Kane and Vernon Hershberger

Regards, Michael Schmidt

How You Can Help

Share this post or share the videos on your blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter. Tweet this post. Remember what happened with Rodney King? When people see injustice, they don't stand for it. Let's make these videos go viral.

Contact your state, local and federal representatives and tell them, in the words of Howard Beale (from the movie Network,)

“I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”

You can also help the Hershbergers by donating to a fund that has been set up for them. I am donating and I encourage you to do the same. Even $10 or $20 would mean a lot.

Click this link to donate on Facebook. If you are not on Facebook and you want to donate, please mail a check to the address below:

Send your checks to:

The Hershbergers
Grazin' Acres Farm
6145 S Hwy 23
Loganville, WI 53943

(Many thanks to Augie at The Journal of Living Food & Healing for posting that info.)

I also suggest you send a donation to the send a donation to the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund. These are the folks who are helping to protect our farmers from these ridiculous and unjust raids and attacks on their livelihoods.

Share Your Comments Below

What say you, fair readers? Are you as outraged as I am?

Photo credit: Wisconsin State Journal and Reedsburg Times Press

Find Me Online

Ann Marie Michaels

I have 25 years of experience in digital and online media & marketing. I started my career in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, working at some of the world’s top ad agencies. In 2007, after my first child was born, I started this little food blog which I grew to over 250K monthly unique website visitors and over 350K social media followers. For nearly 15 years, I've helped my audience of mostly moms and women 25-65 cook for their families and live a healthier lifestyle.

 The year after I started the blog, I founded a blog network in the health & wellness space called Village Green Network. I started the company on my coffee table and bootstrapped the business to over $1.3 million in annual revenue within 5 years. During that time, I helped a number of our bloggers become six figure earners. After being censored on almost every social media platform for telling the After being censored on almost every social media platform from Facebook and Instagram to Pinterest and Twitter, and being deplatformed on Google, I am now deployed as a digital soldier, writing almost exclusively about politics on my blog Cheeseslave.com. Because who can think about food when we are fighting the second revolutionary war and third world war? Don't worry, there will be more recipes one day. After the war is over.

34 thoughts on “Raw Milk Raids in Wisconsin and California

  1. The only risks I find in drinking milk is DRINKING PASTEURIZED MILK!!

    We aren’t doing diary now but when we do we’ll get it from a local farmer who test every. single. batch. of milk for any pathogens not just those that *may* make one sick. If every farmer did the same thing then there would be no reason for prohibiting raw milk. Windsor Dairy in Windsor Colorado is run by a husband and wife who are veterinarians. Like I wrote, they test ALL batches of their milk for pathogens.

    This breaks my heart for the farmers and at the same time makes me so angry I could spit bullets.

    I know I’m preaching to the choir on this blog when I say the only people who benefit from pasteurized milk are those farmers who are selling their crap milk from sickly grain-fed cows. I’d never do drink again if that was my only option.

  2. Another example of corporate greed & manipulation, at the cost of our right to be healthy.
    The illegally orchestrated raids on these good farmer’s are an absolute outrage & I am willing to help change this in any way possible. I’ve been trying to find/buy raw milk for years.
    Often, the fight to initiate change is perceived as monumental and people allow that to stop them, feeling “what can one person do?”
    The following gave me a new & inspirational perspective:
    “If you think one small act is ineffective, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito.”

  3. I hate to go conspiracy theorist, but I just have to wonder if Big Dairy is pressuring their bought politicians to crack down. This type of government opression is bad enough, but to do so in an economy like this, using tax payer dollars to harass farmers is truly unforgivable. Where are the government watchdogs?
    .-= Joanna´s last blog ..Simple Snacking Kung Fu =-.

  4. This reminds me of a conversation that I had with a local small grocer in my area about the relative benefits and costs of the various brands of chicken sold at his store. He told me that one of the reasons for the significant price difference between all of the other chicken suppliers (including some small, but not organic suppliers) and the organic supplier was the fact that the organic chicken supplier had been harassed so intensely by the USDA that he had finally hired a former USDA inspector at a base salary of $150,000/year in an attempt to cut down the harassment. You have to sell a lot of chicken to cover the cost of a $150,000 employee who adds nothing to the bottom line. Raising clean food is not an act of conspiracy….why has our government made it one? Thanks for all you do to spread the truth. Fondly, Ann

  5. Love the Cali vid…2008 I opted out of the US FULL STOP! I left precisely because of this sort of crap!!! Thanks for the post Ann Marie. I won’t crawl up on the soapbox on your blog. It’s too lovely…
    .-= Val´s last blog .. =-.

  6. I think it is Big Aggi paying the goons to do dirty work for them. Big Aggi is drivin by greed an lies and they are so out of control a little ant would be a threat to them. Our government is all about control not about the freedoms this country was built on and part of that freedom is OUR RIGHT to chose what we want our families to eat. And that is healthy nutrient dense food the way The Lord intended our food to be eaten.

  7. Yeah, I couldn’t believe they targeted my man, “Churnin'” Vernon. Vernon was my butter supplier for almost 2 years, and makes about the best raw butter I’ve ever had. I even wrote about Churnin’ Vernon in my cooking eBook. Maybe it’s my fault, lol.

    What’s sad is that the town I live in has 6,000 residents and 14 medical marijuana dispensaries, which is totally legal because it has some magical medicinal properties, rrrrrrright. But no medical MOOrijuana can be sold without a cow share. Son of a….
    .-= Matt Stone´s last blog ..Endurance Exercise and Metabolism =-.

  8. i really felt capable of punching that woman with the blue dye. what a big jerk…i remember walking to a neighbor’s farm with a big jug when i was a kid and filling it up for a dollar….it seems things were so much simpler then…our food has red dye in it that makes our kids hyper…disposable diapers have chemicals that cause cancer and infertility…baby shampoo has cancer causing chemicals but a man raising animals and natural food is the big threat. what a joke. i’m going to repost this and urge my friends to do the same. and to the hershburgers, please know that you have support in upstate ny.

  9. I am not even from the USA and even I can see VERY clearly that this is an act of “Domestic Terrorism”, being brought to the front door of the Hershbergers.
    SHAME to all those who are involved in this disgusting action.
    Please feel free to email this woman. DIRECTLY responisble for ordering the raid.
    jacqueline.owens@datcp.state.wi.us.

    When was the last time you saw that many cops and government officials raid a home of an abused child or a beaten wife???
    What a gross waste of time, money, man hours for the police alone. They could be out doing REAL policing. Catching REAL criminals.

    Australia supports the Hershberger family!

  10. Thanks Ann Marie for the mention. I have 80 articles now about family farm and food regulatory enforcement actions in the past two years. Here is the link to the series:

    https://wholefoodusa.wordpress.com/category/2-family-farm-report-enforcement-and-regulatory-actions/

  11. So what happens when Officials decide that raw milk is so “yesterday” and decide to find something else to target like home grown vegies. Ohhh we MUSNT let people share those!! They might not be safe!!

    *obvious sarcasm*

    If that ever happens will your President be the first to shut down his wifes garden?

  12. This is so ridiculous……you would think eating raw and natural was on the same level as drug cartels! I guess I am one of the ‘civil disobedient ones’ and proud of it!! It is all about big money within the AG industry and FDA control and who is padding their pockets! Everyone needs to stand up for the right to choose for themselves and not just follow like the pawns they are making us to be.

  13. Yes, it is about safety.

    Yes, it is about whether or not it is legal.

    Yes, police carry guns because farmers do.

    Yes, the FDA did respond to the recent egg outbreak with a recall (destroying eggs) and tougher regulations including the “harassment” of routine inspections.

    Of course, I don’t have to worry about eggs because I cook mine. You know, if you heat food up passed a particular point for long enough it kills harmful bacteria.

    You act like tobacco and alcohol aren’t regulated. My husband home brews and we manage to follow the rules.

    I grew up on a family dairy farm. We managed to follow the rules as well. We were never harassed.

    Why in the world would you give ill people raw milk?! If you just said because it’s better for you or that it cures disease – you fail science.

  14. This is just fruit of our election system. We need government paid campaigns, all on public access television (not cable) limited to 3-6 months. Voila. No more bought out politicians.

  15. We need to clarify on the point of pasteurization & raw milk.
    Raw milk is only beneficial if the livestock is pastured.

  16. Wow, Vernon Hershberger is a real hero. We had the raids on the Traditional Foods warehouse and the Hartmann dairy farm here in MN. Kind of makes you sick.

  17. Tyranny in action. I thought I was seeing a video from the old Soviet Union, except nobody was speaking Russian. Where is the ACLU? The constitutional rights of these raw milk sellers are being violated. Why is the Federal government not protecting them? To see government ignore the law is frightening. Do corporations control EVERY THING?
    .-= Stanley Fishman´s last blog ..Beware the Changeling Business! =-.

  18. “Why is the Federal government not protecting them? To see government ignore the law is frightening.”

    Ironic that it is the Federal gov’t that is going after them, instead of protecting, isn’t it? You’re right, to have gov’t ignore the law is frightening.

    We need to get the movies such as Food, Inc, Fresh, Farmageddon, in front of as many as possible, so they can understand the bigger picture and not be as easily swayed by General Electric-owned mainstream media.

    So thankful we have access to raw milk and for all the healing it’s brought our family and friends. And we want people everywhere to have the right to choose whether or not they want to drink it!

  19. My question is, if there is all this time/energy to devote to small farm raw milk raids, why does the government complain it doesn’t have enough manpower to properly regulate the large food factories/meat processing plants? Even if raw milk were as dangerous as they want people to think, just based on numbers of consumers who drink it, the risk is a LOT smaller than the risk of consuming eggs from those factory farms, which provide food for millions. If we looked at this with pure logic, those would be the place to concentrate resources. But, of course, this is not about logic or real risk but about bullying small farmers. I plan to send the Hershbergers a donation to help them resist. Thanks for publicizing.

  20. This is even more insane when you consider the fact that the recent salmonella recall is centered on one factory farm. A farm that was well known to its neighbors and the government, yet allowed to operate despite numerous complaints.

    Instead, they go after Vernon Hershberger for the “crime” of selling real milk.
    .-= Stanley Fishman´s last blog ..Beware the Changeling Business! =-.

  21. @ sinmantyx

    Of course, I don’t have to worry about eggs because I cook mine. You know, if you heat food up passed a particular point for long enough it kills harmful bacteria.

    You’re overlooking the lack of nutrition in eggs from factory farms. You can cook out the pathogens (usually, but not all the time) but you can’t replace the depleted nutrition.

    You act like tobacco and alcohol aren’t regulated. My husband home brews and we manage to follow the rules.

    I grew up on a family dairy farm. We managed to follow the rules as well. We were never harassed.

    Do you follow the rules no matter what? Even if you don’t agree with the rules and they are bad?

    If the government required you to get a lobotomy and have daily electric shock treatments, would you do it?

    If you lived in Nazi Germany, would you do what Hitler said because “those are the rules”? A lot of people followed the rules and did not question, and as a result millions of people, including children, were starved and abused and killed.

    I know these are extreme examples but the Holocaust only happened a little over 50 years ago.

    Why in the world would you give ill people raw milk?! If you just said because it’s better for you or that it cures disease – you fail science.

    You’ll have to cite some sources as to why you believe raw milk is bad for you. Just saying you believe it’s bad for you isn’t good enough — not logical.

    Maybe you are on the wrong blog!

  22. Well I have done my bit. I contacted the White House via online form. Yeah yeah , I know, not going to make a whole lot of difference but not much else I can do from here in Oz. Secondly I am awaiting a call back regarding an appointment to speak to the American Ambassador here.

    All I want is 10 mins, and get them to watch the vid.

    Here’s hoping

  23. I do not currently eat raw dairy (would have no issue doing so, I just have no clue where to get it where I live 🙁 ), but this story is horrifying! My mother raises her own chickens, collects their eggs, and gives them out to friends (because we can’t use THAT many, lol). What if someone decides she needs to be controlled? There was a lady in my home town who used to make butter and buttermilk (raw) and sell the small batches to a select few. She was shut down, cutting off a source of income.

    No, it isn’t about safety. If it were, the government would be taking a more proactive approach to the “factory farms” out there. I remember hearing one of the owners (I believe) of the salmonella chicken farms stating how horrid, overcrowded and disgusting the conditions were at his plant. The way he said it, however, was very “oh well, just how it is.” Yuck.

    At any rate, I agree with everyone else who has applauded these farmers.

  24. I’m a huge advocate of eating everything RAW. I think cooked food should only be done for taste and when you’re super healthy.. Otherwise all food is super beneficial raw….

    Milk..–Yes
    Greens– Yes
    Beef – YES!!!!!!!!

    The government has no business in infringing on personal freedom of choice.. Choice is what makes everything great..! Keep focusing on what you want though.. cause Raw Milk will be available to those who want it…
    .-= Steve B´s last blog ..Raw or Cooked Food =-.

  25. Honestly, anyone that really looks at this situation knows this isn’t all about safety. The majority of farmers I know drink milk right from the tank, and those that do have NEVER gotten sick from it. I believe this is really about the almighty dollar. After all, how DARE farmers be allowed to sell their own milk? Just like so many other self employed individuals, the ones doing all the work, are the ones making the least amount of money. If the farmer is allowed to sell his own milk, he is cutting out all the “middle men”. The government regulates the milk rate, the milk company hauls it, the store sells it. Where does this leave the farmer?

  26. I am very disheartened by what the government is doing to local farmers. SMall farmers are the heart of the food family. Small farms produce the best products because they care about the fruit of their labor. Small farmers live on their own produce and raise their families on their own food. Small farmers aren’t in it for the money. Small farms still exist today because their are still a few folks out there who love the lifestyle, the hard work and the health benefits that come with the title farm family.
    I grew up on a back road where everyone owned and operated family farms. Our family was one of the few who didn’t farm there. As a child I spent most of my days working to help those farmers milk cows, pluck feathers, stack hay, and pull weeds. I saw new life all around me from the gardens, to the livestock, to kittens, and grandchildren. We all drank raw milk and we were all healthy. I think every child in America needs to experience farm life, and know where food is supposed to come from! I learned my hard work ethic by helping my neighbors farm.

  27. I am so glad my wife and I chose the Ozarks to settle in when we decided enough was enough. Missouri tends to leave the farmers be and allow us to raise animals wholesomely. Their only regulation regarding (properly) farm raised products, whether beef, pork, other meats or vegetables, is that the purchaser MUST go to the farm to purchase. Vegetables may be sold in markets outside the farm and so may state inspected meat. Unlike USDA inspection, a farmer doesn’t GIVE his animal to the USDA until it passes inspection.

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