By Pete Kennedy
Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund
Wisconsin: DATCP Raids Hershberger Farm
The morning of June 2, 2010 started out like most other busy days on the farm of Vernon & Erma Hershberger and their family of eight boys and one girl, ranging in age from 18 down to 2 years. Shortly before 10:00 a.m., Vernon went to pick up some equipment from a neighboring farm. Immediately after he left, Cathleen Anderson, Regulatory Specialist from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) along with Sauk County Health Department Sanitarians, Nick Oasen and Mitch Lohr, arrived and entered the farm store building, paying no heed to “Private Property” signs posted on the building. Erma immediately called Vernon on his cell phone; and she asked the officials to wait for him outside the building, which they did, stepping out into the parking lot.
Upon arriving at the scene, Vernon was asked by Anderson for his consent to let them do an inspection of his private facility. Vernon refused consent even after they threatened to get a warrant, explaining to the officials that they had no jurisdiction to inspect his farm because he had not applied for a license and he was not selling to the public but merely distributing products to members of his private buying club.
At 11:45a.m. Jacqueline Owens, Field Service Director from DATCP, showed up with a warrant along with four or five deputies from the local Sherriff’s Department. Anderson handed Vernon the warrant; Vernon requested a few minutes to look it over which they granted, but when he asked them to wait until he had called his attorney they refused saying that the warrant was valid and they would wait no longer. They then entered the farm store building.
They began the inspection in the storage freezers in what is call the “processing room” and took inventory of all the items that were in the freezers, also making notes about labels and temperatures. They did a total inspection of the building including the restroom facilities, the lighting, and anything else that they would typically inspect in a licensed facility. After they were done in the processing room they went into the grocery storage room and then into the culturing room, taking a basic inventory of everything that was on the shelves. They then moved on into the walk-in cooler.
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