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Judge won't allow testimony about the health benefits of raw milk at dairy farmer's trial

Cow (Reuters)
Cow (Reuters)

BARABOO, Wis (WSAU-Wheeler News)  The raw milk trial of Sauk County dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger enters its second day in Baraboo.

The state says the only issue is his refusal to get the required licenses that would have barred him from selling raw milk. Supporters of raw milk want the health benefits of their product to be debated, but Circuit Judge Guy Reynolds said he would not move the case in that direction. State prosecutor Phillip Ferris objected repeatedly during yesterday’s opening statement by defense lawyer Glenn Reynolds.

Ferris tried to stop Reynolds from telling the jury about the relationship between Hershberger and the people who obtained his milk. The Loganville farmer calls them members of a “community, without the blood relationship” – and therefore, Hershberger didn’t need a license to serve them.

Reynolds said state regulators never understood how his client’s operation runs and quote, “They still don’t know the facts.”

After yesterday’s testimony, Hershberger’s attorneys challenged the state’s introduction of a food license fee scale as evidence. The defense said the state was trying to imply that Hershberger could have avoided his criminal charges if he had just bought a milk license. Prosecutor Eric DeFort said it’s clear that Hershberger could have bought the license but quote, “He would have had to stop selling some product, which is the raw milk.” That drew laughter from some of the defendant’s supporters in the gallery.

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