As Americans increasingly seek access to healthful, fresh-from-the-farm foods like raw milk, private buying agreements like herdshares are becoming more popular.
A herdshare is a private agreement between a farmer and an individual in which the farmer is paid to take care of an animal, a cow for example that belongs to one or more people.
You essentially pay a onetime purchase fee to “buy a share” of a farmer’s herd, which entitles you to the benefits of owning that cow, such as a certain amount of milk each week.
Wisconsin dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger provides food to members of such a private buying club, supplying them with fresh raw milk and produce.
If you believe that you have a right to eat what you want, without having to get the government’s permission first, it’s hard to imagine what could be wrong with such an agreement, but Wisconsin is one of a handful of states that is aggressively targeting raw-milk farmers, seeking to criminalize their peaceful practice of food production.
Vernon Hershberger’s case is particularly glaring, as even though a jury nullified the case, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) still tried to put him in jail.