Heroism: A Uniquely Human Trait; the Story of Vernon Hershberger

The simplest way I’ve ever been able to reconcile a distinction between wanton self-sacrifice and heroism exists in the realm of values. To sacrifice yourself means, by definition, that you’re giving up a higher value (to you) for a lower value. Heroism involves values that you hold so dear that they may even outweigh your immediate safety, security, or your very life.

So for example, if you deny yourself or your loved ones basic security, shelter, or nutrition in order to help those far less worthy or valuable (to you), you’re engaging in sacrifice. On the other hand, you may find it utterly loathsome to even live in a world where certain things can persist unchecked, such as a woman, child, elderly person — or anyone clearly outmatched — being assaulted by some thug in front of your very eyes, but where to intervene might risk your life. I would consider such intervention to be heroic, not sacrificial.

So there’s the philosophical/social underpinnings and now to the story. I’ve seen a few of these, lately, but for one reason of another, didn’t engage them. This is different. And I think it’s because of Vernon Hershberger’s actions in the immediate and his demeanor over them. He’s an Amish subsistence farmer in Wisconsin. That is, he derives all of his subsistence values for himself, his wife, and nine children from his family farm, trading that which he produces by means of his hands & body, intellect, and leadership with other family members, friends, and close acquaintances which appear to number about 100 in total.

Via WAPF’s Twitter feed I originally got wind of this story from the Journal of Natural Food and Healing. There’s a good timeline there, quotes, updates and such. Check it out, but I will provide an additional link, to this local news story, with video. From the former link:

Another family dairy farm and their private store for their food ministry has been raided in Wisconsin by state/county health and agriculture agencies.

Be sure to click on the video link on the later and watch it. What you’re going to see is the heroic & courageous Vernon Hershberger proudly showcasing what appears to be quality product of the highest order. These are products I can identify immediately as among those I would be proud to acquire in trade with Mr. Hershberger. You too, I’d venture. And you’re also going to see those same refrigerators tagged by your "higher authorities and solemn protectors" as "evidence." Yea, they’re evidence alright — evidence of the profound bankruptcy in quality, wholesomeness, artisan pride, tradesmanship and self-sufficiency that’s wholly lacking from The Factory Farm…or from its billionaire DC law firm lobbyists, its former executives now sitting in politically appointed regulatory positions…from the entire tawdry, incestuous affair — from top to bottom and wall to wall.

Now at this point — and frankly, in deciding to do this post I had intended a typical vitriolic rant — I’d be naming all the names and assigning new, unflattering well-deserverd monikers to all those involved in this shameful, unnecessary, grandstanding undertaking. But I can’t do that. I have too much respect for Mr. Vernon Hershberger to subject him to the potential consequences of my behavior. Everyone’s Googling their own name, now. I harbor no illusions of what he’s up against and I certainly would not want to do anything that would in any way bring the crushing boot of state down upon him and his dear family any worse than it’s already likely to be…uh, cause he’s selling raw milk from his own family farm.

In short, and counting his likely religious views, I’m going to respect his right to not have my typical outrageous vulgarity associated with him or his just cause.

Here’s a few select quotes from the previously linked post at Natural Food.

The DATCP brought in the armed deputies for 6 hours to lock it up and take evidence. That does not stop Vernon.

“This is how I make a living,” Vernon Hershberger, a Loganville dairy farmer, said Thursday morning. “We are going to go right ahead and do business.”

Hershberger said roughly 100 families, including some Madison customers, purchase raw milk, yogurt, cheese, butter and ice cream from a store on his farm that is open for business Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Now pay attention here. He’s not just going to continue on in defiance. There’s more, but first:

The raid team took product samples for chemical and biological laboratory analysis. The raid team also went to the large dairy tank of fresh, farm certified organic wholesome milk and intentionally contaminated it. They dropped a blue dye in it such that it turns all the milk blue. It is not saleable or drinkable.

So they take more "evidence" and wantonly destroy his property; actually, the very self-produced whole food he and his nine children consume. And next…

After they left, Vernon and about two dozen friends, families and customers who arrived in ten cars during the six hour raid—BROKE THE SEALS (another criminal offense)—so that they could get to their milk, cream, butter, ice cream, yogurt and other products—that they produced and owned and needed so that their families can live and is required to maintain robust health and energy.

And now here, in particular, we come to Mr. Hershberger’s uncommon courage & heroism. Is is because he defied the law? In part, yes, but there’s way, way more to it than that — something I might refer to as a "golden helmet of moral righteousness."

I asked Vernon if it would be OK to report his crime in the Journal for all to see: that he defied the orders of the State by BREAKING THE SEALS of state evidence—so that they could get to their food needed to live. “No problem, go right ahead and tell”, he told me. “We have no other choice but to break the seals and take our food”.

This is the heart of a concept I’ll address in a minute, but note: he has no intention of not fully facing up to the legal consequences of his actions. In fact, he’s giving the green light to be reported.

The raid team also demanded computers and customer lists and business records. Between the time the health department showed up and when the deputies came with the warrant to search and seize, Vernon and his family took the computer drive and records and hid them in an undisclosed off-site location. I made doubly sure it would be OK to report this here and to the DATCP and county officials who will be reading this—and Vernon said it would be OK to report this. (It is as if it is an invitation to the State to come and play hide and seek. The customer and supplier lists are then used to interrogate and request surveys of them as to further widen the witch hunt—as in Minnesota).

Well so far, I’d say that an ambitious prosecutor might be able to get another notch towards a career promotion by putting Mr. Hershberger in a locked-away status from his nine children for an awfully long time. These are "serious crimes" — not to mention: selling raw milk from his own family farm.

And now, turning to the local news story previously linked…

…Now that the law is not on his side, he doesn’t know what to do.

"Entering into a form of civil disobedience or going out of business," he said. "This is all we do. This is to support our family. This is to support our farm. We have a debt to pay off and everything that goes with it."

If you ever get a chance to study Civil Disobedience, you of course begin with Henry David Thoreau, who held that there are three choices with respect to laws: obey them, amend them, or transgress them.

“Under a government that imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison.”

A continuing study in civil disobedience might include Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Paramount are three principles:

  1. Maintaining a respect for rule of law even while disobeying a particular law you find unjust. In other words, resistance should be non-violent at all times. This could extend so far as to protect your oppressors from physical harm from those who might be sympathetic to your cause, but violently so.
  2. Plead guilty for your offense and accept the consequences. You remain non-violent and mount no legal defense.
  3. Instead, mount a moral defense which is predominantly be means of your non-violent resolve and secondarily, by means of rational appeal to natural law & common justice. The aim of this defense is not to save your own skin, but to convert your oppressors and opponents.

And while civil disobedience has been demonstrated a number of times to be very effective, you can probably see why it’s such a rare thing. I hope that Mr. Hershberger maintains the courage to see it through, though I could never fault him if he ultimately chose not too. He must hold no illusions: the state very well could chew him to pieces and leave his nine children with an imprisoned father.

But whatever the case, I raise a toast to him.

Raw Milk Toast to Vernon Hershberger from Richard Nikoley on Vimeo.

Oh, one more little tidbit, before I go, from the reportage.

Both houses of the Wisconsin legislature voted to legalize raw milk sales, until Governor Doyle vetoed it two weeks ago.

There’s just nothing like representative democracy, I guess. Perhaps Vernon Hershberger will get to demonstrate in living color and by loss of his physical freedom how "valuable" a lesson in civics can be.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. ToddBS on June 4, 2010 at 16:07

    This is the kind of thing that gets my blood boiling. It’s the war on drugs run amok (or more amok).

  2. Chuck O on June 4, 2010 at 16:34

    WTF…This is sad…. We have bigger problems in Wisconsin then family farmers selling “raw milk”! I’m going to go break the law tomorrow and purchase some on my way home from work!

  3. Organic Gabe on June 4, 2010 at 17:12

    Sad and revolting.
    What the hell is wrong with an adult buying raw milk to consume?
    Nothing, except it doesn’t fit well with the lobbyists and their sponsored politicians.
    When I was a kid I drank a lot of raw milk and never had a problem. I don’t drink milk any more, I just indulge in good fat organic cheese.
    More power to you, Mr Hershberger!
    Thanks, Richard, for posting about this shameful raid. People need to know.

  4. Matt on June 4, 2010 at 18:13

    I wish there was a way I could stockpile milk … I am privileged here in Pennsylvania in that I can go to my local health food store and pick up 1/2 gallon for less than 1/2 gallon of organic factory farmed milk. Something tells me they’ll be going after it here if we get a democrat in the governor’s office in 6 months.

  5. Glenn on June 4, 2010 at 18:36

    I was relating a similar story to a vegan colleague at my office, and even he agreed that using taxpayer money for setting up stings and pursuing prosecutions against raw dairy sellers is… insane.

  6. Jim McBride on June 4, 2010 at 19:08

    Wholefoods also cut out my organic, grassfed, raw milk farmer. Me and my brothers got in touch with the farmer and now he makes weekly drops to our area. he also sells grass-fed meats. the ground meat is $2.00 a lb cheaper then WF too! he is raising pasture raised chickens and duck that will be ready soon. nothing like going right to the source. when i pop open the top of my raw milk i know that yesterday it was still in the cow. not on a gassoline style milk truck. if any one on here is in the philadelphia area the farm is called The family Cow.

  7. Murray on June 4, 2010 at 22:00

    Well, I agree with Todd, this gets my blood boiling. When did America go from being the “land of the free” to the land of the government- regulated? It sounds like Wisconsin forgot about the part of the constitution that says government is to be “for the people.” This is not what our ancestors had in mind when they risked everything to get to the new world to be free. So much for the “American dream” huh?

  8. Lynn on June 4, 2010 at 22:12

    The blog “Joanne Unleashed” has an interview with Rob Taylor, a U.S. Senate candidate from Wisconsin, in which he states that the bill Governor Doyle vetoed technically allowed raw milk sales but contained provisions which would make them practically impossible. Mr. Taylor’s contention is that the bill was a back door attempt, possible led by the USDA, to prohibit raw milk sales. He supports raw milk sales but opposes the bill.
    I cannot find a quote in the article giving the governor’s stated reasons for the veto but I would like to give Governor Doyle the benefit of the doubt.

  9. Zach on June 4, 2010 at 22:59

    This story makes me sick to my stomach. It’s legal for McDonald’s to sell burgers from cows that have been raped and abused their whole lives and that make consumers fat and sick, but it’s illegal for this man to sell one of the safest, most nutritious foods on earth? I wish I was exaggerating when I say that the actions of the FDA fill me with homicidal rage

  10. Derek on June 5, 2010 at 05:27

    Great Post Richard. We should make this news go viral across the Paleo/Primal scene, and setup a defense fund via donations for the family. It truly seems they will be in the fight of their lives…

  11. Michael Schmidt on June 5, 2010 at 20:31

    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 anyway 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

  12. Dave, RN on June 5, 2010 at 06:34

    I emailed Jacqueline Owens, R.S. Field Services Director Bureau of Food Safety & Inspection, the one responsible for this outrage. Something along the lines of “so I can’t buy milk, but I can buy cigarettes all day long”. Of course, there’s lots of $$ from taxes from the cigarettes…

    Posts here are good, but won’t accomplish anything except making us feel better when we vent. So after you vent, email her. Her address is

    This story is all over the blogsphere. This bureaucrat needs to be inundated with emails.

  13. Matt on June 5, 2010 at 07:06

    All this talk lately of the big scary government lately is so funny. Wake up people you are the government! If you dont like it get involved and fix it. The facts are in some states it is illegal to sell raw milk for humans. McDonald’s cant sell raw milk either. Is it a dumb law sure Do you wear a seatbelt? I don’t like that one either but I wouldn’t risk my family for it. I hope it works out for this farmer he seems like a stand up guy.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 5, 2010 at 07:50

      So Matt, simple direcy question for you:

      Is wearing a seatbelt “all you do?” Does it represent the totality of how you make your living and provide for those you’re responsible for, like nine children, for instance?

      • Matt on June 5, 2010 at 10:47

        No not at all. My comment was directed more toward the other commentors. If I thought I could provide my family everything they needed by farming I would. I have looked into just that but it would take a major sacrifice. If the question would start I company selling an illegal product that could open me up to lots of legal issues and make people sick. Not a chance. Do you know if Mr. Hershberger tried to do this the legal way? By making his customers part owners? Also did he ever advertise he sold raw milk? One part of the story I think is missed there is some risk to consuming raw milk. Would you recommend Someone with nine kids start selling weed to change those dumb laws? My point is both are illegal and have been for several years. Making your family suffer to get a law changed is something I would not put my family through.

      • Matt on June 5, 2010 at 12:40

        So looking into this more…. Mr. Hershberger was all legal earlier this year. It also soulds like his buyers were part owners. So earlier this year he was legally selling raw milk. This year he didn’t pay his 60 dollar inspection fee and let his Class B Dairy license expire. (new one is $120). Then the “Big Bad Gov” sends him a questionaire to determine if he is still operating a Dairy. No response. Then a judge issued a warrant to determine if Mr. Hershberger was operating a Dairy. Guess what he is operating a Dairy. I would arrest this guy for being a moron. Richard you can probably find a better example to use than this guy.

      • damaged justice on June 5, 2010 at 13:05

        “Guess what he is operating a Dairy”

        When you use a car to go from point A to point B, are you driving or traveling?

        This is not a rhetorical question. It *is* a trick one, but I’m not the one trying to trick you.

      • Richard Nikoley on June 5, 2010 at 13:09

        I don’t think you understand, Matt.

        It is explicitly Mr. Hershberg’s open defiance of the law that makes him so heroic. You’re argument is non-sequiter.

      • Matt on June 5, 2010 at 13:13

        I think I do understand. If he would have paid his $60 reinspection fee he would still be sell legal raw milk to his share holders. So because the $60 fee to run a Licensed Dairy is a huge burden he has to openly defy the law? Is that it?

      • Richard Nikoley on June 5, 2010 at 13:31

        I don’t know but the question is impertinent. The point is that any restriction is unjust and whether or not Hershberger once decided to be in compliance with the law or not does nothing to change the fact that it was an unjust law and now he has decided to defy that unjust law.

      • Richard Nikoley on June 5, 2010 at 13:34

        Incidently, what I do find amusing is that for many years arguing the libertarian position with apologists for the state over such victimless issues as seatbelt & helmet laws, drug laws and so on, a common retort is that well, we’re not talking about [insert some necessity of life].

        Well, now we’re talking about a man’s sole livelihood and his very “bread of life,” and yet the apologist tune changes not.

      • Matt on June 5, 2010 at 14:53

        Quick question. Does the public have the right to inspect its food supply?

        Can you clarify what the restriction is here?

        What I see here is you want to sell raw milk in WI you have to be a licensed dairy and sell to an owner or employee of the dairy. Some other farmers fought in court for that right. You make your customer a share holder and you can sell him/her raw milk. If you sell less than 1 million gallons of milk you can get the cheaper class B license. $120 dollars the first year $60 bucks every year after. The $60 bucks is for the inspection. I dont see that as a huge burden. IF anything these stupid rules help the farmer by driving up the price of raw milk.

        When I first read about this it pissed me off but looking into the details seems like its pretty easy to sell raw dairy legally in WI. I dont see the burden. I think the public should be inspecting our food supply. I expected some huge fees and found none. This guy is throwing away his farm for less than 100 dollars of regulation.

        Side note: What a great blog. I really respect the fact you can disagree and still be apart of the discussion. This is not true everywhere in the paleoshpere but IT IS HERE.

      • ToddBS on June 5, 2010 at 15:18

        “The public” has not a right to do anything. If you want to make sure that what you are entering into a free and voluntary contract to purchase is up to your standards, then that is your prerogative. And I would highly suggest you do just that.

        But relying on some bureaucrat somewhere to determine what is and isn’t suitable for my purchase is asinine to the nth degree. If he were selling through a government-run food shop, then by all means spend taxpayer dollars on inspecting his wares. If he’s selling his product on his own property, to customers who have entered into free and voluntary contracts, then “the public” has no say in the matter.

        IF anything these stupid rules help the farmer by driving up the price of raw milk.

        I’d direct you to read the collected works of Henry Hazlitt, most notably “Economics in One Lesson”. He can dispel such fallacies better than I.

      • Richard Nikoley on June 5, 2010 at 15:47

        Yes Matt, I do generally wish to foster an enviro of discussion even in the face of strong disagreement.

        A quicker question for you: whose “public?”

        A second one: do you understand the concept of an unjust law and if so, can you give me an exapmle?

        And I also reiterate. That Mr. Hershberger is in willful violation of the law has not been in dispute and was in fact explicitly applauded in my post.

      • Richard Nikoley on June 5, 2010 at 15:50

        To frame that question differently, can you point me to Mr. Public, because I’d certainly like to meet such an _individual_.

      • Matt on June 5, 2010 at 16:25

        public = people consuming the product = those that would get sick

        segregation, women’s suffrage

        This may very well be an unjust law. This is our basic Disagreement. Is the issue not the guy doesn’t want pay the fee to be Licensed? I’m saying looks like its $60 dollars a year. I think if it was 500 dollars I would completely agree its an unreasonable burden for a small farmer.

        Here in Texas raw milk is over 6 bucks a gallon and very tasty. We have to drive to the farm. Which is nice they are really awesome people and work with other farms to provide things like beef and pork. Good news is they are starting to do well.

        If you support the guy for sticking it to the government .. right on. Maybe I’m missing how the government is sticking it to him. I did learn that 10 other states it is illegal to sell raw milk at all. I do agree all farmers in those states are burdened and I support them without question.

        As far as the public I was simply trying to understand how the concern for public health fits in to things. Seems like we need to be able control contaminants to our food supply. I read somewhere this farmer supplies 100 families. Is that to small to worry about? On this subject I don’t know where to draw the line. Sure supplying a few families will have no impact on the public. Seems like 100 families could impact the public.

      • Michael on June 5, 2010 at 16:55

        All this talk lately of the big scary government lately is so funny. Wake up people you are the government!

        Quick question. Does the public have the right to inspect its food supply?

        There is no such thing as a “public” food supply, so the answer is no.

        What I see here is you want to sell raw milk in WI you have to be a licensed dairy and sell to an owner or employee of the dairy.

        What I see here is having to pay protection to the government in order to get permission to enter into voluntary economic arrangements with other people. That is no different than the mafia.

        When I first read about this it pissed me off but looking into the details seems like its pretty easy to sell raw dairy legally in WI.

        Being a slave is being a slave, no matter how “benevolent” your master.

        I expected some huge fees and found none. This guy is throwing away his farm for less than 100 dollars of regulation.

        Yeah, no big deal. We are only buying our chains for $120 a pop. What’s the beef?

        I think the issue here is that you are bringing this assumption to the table:

        All this talk lately of the big scary government lately is so funny. Wake up people you are the government!

        “We” are emphatically not the government.

        The Anatomy of the State

      • Marie on June 5, 2010 at 22:26

        I’m one of Vernon’s customers. He is intelligent, wise and slow to speak. He is not “throwing his farm away for less than 100 dollars…”.

        Selling raw milk in Wisconsin has been allowed in the recent past, through “incidental sales” and cow share agreements. Still it was very hard to find a source as there weren’t too many doing it. DATCP (the inspecting/licensing agency involved here) has reinterpreted their rules in the last year or so and now is making it very clear that raw milk sales will no longer be allowed or tolerated. Farmers who have built their businesses on the cow share court decision are now in a very difficult position. Vernon did not let his Grade B license expire thoughtlessly or accidentally. It was purposeful in order to remove DATCP’s jurisdiction over his farm.

      • Richard Nikoley on June 6, 2010 at 08:33

        Thanks Marie.

        I suspected something was going on along those very lines. So, essentially, they were looking the other way before and now they’re not.

      • Rebekah Sell on June 6, 2010 at 08:48

        Richard, Matt & Micheal – I wanted to reiterate Marie’s point because it is fundamental to the argument.

        Even with a Grade A or Grade B license it is ILLEGAL to sell raw milk. According to DATCP, both Cow Shares & Herd Shares (“I own a cow, you board it, I’m just taking my milk”) are ILLEGAL and now Private Memberships by consenting informed adults are ILLEGAL.

        The only “legal” way to sell raw milk according to Rod Nilsestuen is through “legitimately incidental sales” which they have purposely convoluted to mean that anyone can come to a farm randomly and get milk once but if they ever come back then they and the farmer are breaking the law.

        DATCP has made it known that they will tolerate NO FORM of raw milk sales and they will crush any ‘creative’ attempts to provide people with raw milk.

        Vernon was not making his stand on $60, he knew full well the dire implications of trying to cooperate with them. Standing up to them was the only way to send a message that he wasn’t going to be bullied.

      • Richard Nikoley on June 6, 2010 at 09:05


        And having watched that video, I can’t imagine a more sympathetically righteous figure to lead this challenge.

      • Michael on June 6, 2010 at 15:27

        Vernon was not making his stand on $60, he knew full well the dire implications of trying to cooperate with them. Standing up to them was the only way to send a message that he wasn’t going to be bullied.

        Right, which was exactly my tongue in cheek point. Go Vernon go!

      • anand srivastava on June 6, 2010 at 23:02

        I think you are missing one point here.
        Can you think of free trade here?
        First License is wrong.
        There should be only a mark Government Approved.
        Then people can decide to buy something or not based on whether it is government approved it or not.
        Licensing is unjust whichever you may go.
        The government might force an owner to put up a label that it is not governement approved if it is professionally packaged.

      • Joseph on June 7, 2010 at 10:00

        I agree with everyone who calls into question the ridiculous idea that “the public” exists and is capable of doing anything. “The public” is a convenient rhetorical tag that people in charge have invented so that they can make us take whatever crap they want to shove down our throats. Somehow it always ends up that “the public” has decided that you should not have the right to buy milk, or move, or do anything without answering to some unelected body of expert bureaucrats who don’t understand anything accept how to steal other people’s money and put it to bad use. If I ever meet the public, I will be seriously tempted to punch it in the face.

      • Richard Nikoley on June 7, 2010 at 11:09

        In the immortal words of George Carlin:

        “The public sucks. Fuck Hope.”

      • Gayle on June 7, 2010 at 15:05

        I do NOT want the government approving anything I buy, eat or sell. It’s obvious they are bought & paid for by the corporations. Oh, by the way, the United States IS a corporation. Go Vernon!

    • ToddBS on June 5, 2010 at 08:57

      Do you wear a seatbelt? I don’t like that one either but I wouldn’t risk my family for it.

      Is it a good idea to wear a seatbelt for safety’s sake? Do statistics show that it reduces deaths in accidents? I’m guessing the answer to both is “yes”. Is it the place of others to mandate that you wear a seatbelt? Is it moral or ethical for others to force your hand in the matter? I’m quite certain the answer to both is “no”.

      • Michael on June 5, 2010 at 14:42

        Actually Todd I have seen statistics showing otherwise. 🙂

      • ToddBS on June 5, 2010 at 15:21

        Probably. I was making generalizations. I myself buckle up when I get in the car every time. What started as some idea of prudence has become more reflex, but I don’t feel bothered by it.

        Ironically, had seatbelt laws been in place in the very early ’70s, I’d not even be here today as my parents were involved in a vehicle accident where they were both thrown from the vehicle (a convertible with the top down). Had they been strapped in, they would have been crushed when the car came down on top of them.

      • Michael on June 5, 2010 at 16:57

        Yup, IIRC that is some of what the stats show.

    • Chaohinon on June 5, 2010 at 09:14

      If I am the government, then wouldn’t it be ok for me to stop paying for the war?

      Oh wait no, if I tried to do that, I would get beaten, shot, and/or thrown in a cage.

      Stop trying to pretend that you can co-exist with killers and thieves. It’s pitiful.

  14. bart on June 5, 2010 at 08:24

    Richard, thanks for turning me onto Stefan Molyneux. He covers heroism in a video on his youtube channel.

  15. Chaohinon on June 5, 2010 at 08:24

    Anything that impedes on one’s ability to provide for him/herself and his/her family is an act of economic murder.

    I just can’t believe, especially given how shaky the economy is right now, that anyone could want to shut down headshops, coops, farms, and whatever else.

    I normally advocate for peace, but at this point, it seems like the only refuge for people just trying to get by is to go underground, go illegal, and defend their livelihoods with violence if need be.

    • Murray on June 5, 2010 at 11:49

      “the only refuge for people just trying to get by is to go underground, go illegal, and defend their livelihoods with violence if need be.”

      That’s exactly how this nation was founded. The founding fathers would have been considered outlaws and rebels by the English authorities, but really all they wanted was to be free to live their lives independently.

  16. Michael on June 5, 2010 at 14:46

    Great post Richard. You never know what will tip a person over to the point where he is no longer willing to pay protection money to the state just to sustain his life. Heroic indeed.

  17. Rebekah Sell on June 6, 2010 at 06:50

    My family and I traveled two hours to be with Vernon the day after he was raided. We spent an entire afternoon getting to know this humble and lovely family better. We are a part of that small group of farmers who defy the law and continue to sell fresh unprocessed milk. Our presence, along with many of his loyal customers, kept Jackie and the DATCP at bay.

    If they knew what they were doing was completely in the right, why would they not show up when a crowd of consumers were standing by? It’s much easier to put the squeeze on a single farmer sitting like a duck, all by himself. Take them out, one by one. Scott Trautman will tell you all about it. But when the public notices and takes a stand, suddenly the DATCP gestapo isn’t so timely on their promise to be back the next day.

    I would like to clarify two points in the thread of comments:
    1. Lynn: The bill was created by a small group of farmers who paid out of pocket for a single lobbyist last October. When it finally got into committee, the committee members added two pages of regulations that the farmers never intended. The bill in it’s original form was a simple, half page declaration of rights. USDA was involved, however. Once the legislature passed it, every national food and dairy organization began beating down the Governor’s door. Don’t believe me? Ask for all emails and letter through the open records law. We already have. Doyle caved. Plain and simple.

    2. Matt: The licensing that Vernon didn’t renew is for a reason. Do you know that in WI you can’t have a dairy license if you aren’t selling to a milk plant? If you want to have a licensed dairy, but don’t want to ship the milk to a processor, your license is revoked. It’s state law. We were shipping to a processor until our demand for raw overcame what we were selling commercially. So we suspended our license. It lapses this very month. We can look forward to the same questionnaire that Vernon got.

    And just so you know, the questionnaire? We’ve seen it. It’s not a simple two page “check yes or no” document that asks if you are still milking. There were FIFTEEN pages of questions that asked, among other things, List every person who ever bought product from your store in the last five years including name, address, phone number and email. List every supplier you ever bought any dairy equipment from, including address, fax, phone and website. List all animals you have sold in the last five years…etc.

    Do these questions sound like a government agency who gives a CRAP about whether or not he’s still running a dairy? They already knew and they were ready to hunt down anyone ever involved in his farm.

    This is the government we pay taxes to. When will we wake up?!

    • Richard Nikoley on June 6, 2010 at 08:42


      Thank you very much for adding fact and context to the situation.

      I very much welcome additional comments and perspectives from other raw dairy farmers and their customers.

      I wish you all well in this struggle and will endeavor to keep tabs on it.

  18. zach on June 6, 2010 at 08:06

    The state is not above the moral law. People who dress up in government issued costumes and assault people for “crimes” that don’t involve the violation of person or property- are the scum of the earth. My blood pressure goes through the roof at just the site of some guy pulled over, having his money stolen by a taxfeeder for exceeding an arbitrary “speed limit”. This country is done. Stick a fork in it.

  19. scott miller on June 6, 2010 at 15:06

    This story KILLS me. I want to cry. Note at the end that both houses voted to legalize the selling of raw milk, but Wisconsin’s dumbass governor veto’ed it. Nicely played, you fucking asshole, Jim Doyle.

    How to send Jim Doyle a letter with strong disapproval of his un-American action:

    The letter I wrote (feel free to copy and use it):

    Subject: unAmerican action against Farmers will not be tolerated

    I’m shocked and saddened that you veto’ed your congressional approval to allow fresh, safe, in-demand raw dairy in your state. I can only assume you did this for two reasons:

    [1] You are a profound misunderstanding of the safety of raw dairy, and it’s vastly superior health benefits, or…

    [2] You’ve been effectively lobbied and are therefore not making a decision based on the best interest of the people.

    Well, your unAmerican actions are getting tremendous coverage on social networks, and they are NOT appreciated.

    I, among numerous other, are blogging this story, using Facebook, using Twitter, and other networks.

    I’m guessing you’ve never had fresh milk, and therefore you’re fully unaware of how much better it tastes over that processed grocery store crap. Seriously, do what’s right. You’re still able to do that, I hope.

    This will not drop from public attention until You do the Right Thing.

    Good luck…

    Scott Miller

    • Richard Nikoley on June 6, 2010 at 15:18

      Good for you, Scott. While I restrict my “political activism” to my blogging, letter and emails can certainly have an impact

      Increasingly, politicians have nowhere to hide from their crassly politically motivated actions.

  20. Felix on June 7, 2010 at 02:50

    I think that everyone has a right to put anything he wants into his body. So banning raw milk is just as stupid as all the other bans. People will eat what they want, just watch 2 Girls one cup. However, this is a bit odd. I mean, seriously, raw milk? Why not just buy the stuff at the store, when it’s even safer? I understand the principle and it should be defended. But the raw milk thing still has me chuckling.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 7, 2010 at 09:26

      Felix, raw simply refers to the milk being non-pasteurized. In addition, most producers don’t homogenize either, but so called “cream top” milk has always been available (pasteurized, but not homogenized, so the cream separates). What I’ve found is the cream is too thick and does not mix well, whereas for the non-pasteurized mixing is very easy. Just a bit of a shake. If you like milk in any case, I don’t see why the concept of raw would be a big deal. You can find out more here:

      That particular brand is available at a number of regular supermarkets in our area. They are also at some farmers markets. Yesterday I was at one of them and saw people tasting raw whole milk for the first time. I must have seen a dozen tasters and there was 100% approval.

      Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it, I guess.

  21. Splint Chesthair on June 7, 2010 at 09:52

    Just a quick note, when I was a kid we took a trip to a farm and at the end of the tour, each kid was invited to take a taste of raw milk after they showed how they milked the cow. I’m only 34 so it wasn’t THAT long ago but I can’t imagine that happening now.

  22. Janie Upchurch on June 7, 2010 at 15:03

    This kind of government control is insanity. It has no basis in fact and is clearly about control, not responsible liberty. We must fight the fight according to our constitution and we must win.

  23. x on June 9, 2010 at 20:07

    How is heroism a uniquely human trait when its seen in many other animals and what is the need to define uniquely human traits? Humans can never separate themselves from nature or other animals as we come from them, and this title seems to contradict this websites name, Free The Animal….

    Nature expresses all of our characteristics and beliefs, as we can only do what life does itself, because we come from it. Simple Logic.

    We are not the sole owners of anyone of our traits.

  24. Kathy Pirtle on June 12, 2010 at 03:25

    As we stand together for what we know represents our God-given rights, we will change the consciousness of this country. This is the only path and choice we have–for what we face right now is not the country we chose.

  25. Nutrition and Physical Regeneration » Happy Secession Day! on July 4, 2010 at 21:46

    […] maybe you just need to see something more recent like the attack on raw dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger, or the raiding and shutting down of Rawsome Foods, a […]

  26. Nutrition and Physical Regeneration » Food And Freedom – A Farmer's Dilemma on July 10, 2010 at 17:36

    […] Some pay the price – overzealous regulators issue crippling fines, and some are jailed. Some have even been attacked by armed state thugs with their families held at gunpoint while search warrants are executed. They take everything, all […]

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