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First Amendment issue now raised in Sauk Co. raw milk case


SAUK COUNTY, WI (WTAQ) - It’s been almost 13 months since a Sauk County farmer was charged with illegally selling raw milk.

And it appears that Vernon Hershberger’s case will drag on into 2013.

A trial was set for January 7th, but the Loganville dairy farmer has raised a First Amendment issue involving religious freedom. His lawyer notes that Hershberger’s religious beliefs do not allow taking someone to court – so he had to disregard a holding order that the state agriculture department placed on him.

Prosecutors say they need time to respond, and a new trial date could be set when the parties meet again on January 4th.

Hershberger is charged in Sauk County with 3 misdemeanor counts of operating food and dairy facilities without a license, and violating a hold-order placed on his products following a 2010 raid on his property. The raid occurred around the time that state lawmakers had voted to allow raw milk sales with certain conditions, and former Governor Jim Doyle had vetoed it.

Hershberger says he’s not selling anything illegally, claiming his customers are “food club members” – and therefore they own the business.