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“There was a price list. And there was a cash register. There was a credit card machine. There was a sticker on the door that said we take Visa, Mastercard, Discover,” he said. “This is a place that you go and purchase things at. That’s why it comes as no surprise that even Mr. Hershberger has referred to it as a farm store, because you buy things at a store.”
DeFort argued the token $35 annual fee charged to milk club members and the lease agreements they signed were just a ruse and didn’t constitute ownership in the farm, which would otherwise exempt Hershberger from needing a retail food license. He said for just $265 a year, Hershberger could have purchased a retail food establishment license from DATCP.
He didn’t mention that in doing so, Hershberger could not provide raw milk to members. Nobody really mentioned raw milk. No one was allowed to talk about raw milk or the health benefits sworn by its consumers.
“I didn’t know what to say that it wouldn’t get shut down,” said Hershberger. He said his time on the stand was frustrating as the state repeatedly objected to the defense’s questions or the answers he gave.
Both Vernon and Erma Hershberger took the stand on Friday. Hershberger’s wife, 10 kids and dozens of his food club members crowded the small courtroom’s benches.
Vernon was emotional recalling the years-old conflict with the ag department.
DATCP sent a cease and desist order in 2007 after Hershberger let his dairy license lapse.
The agency made its first visit to the farm in August 2009 and another one in June 2010. DATCP sealed off his freezers and the food on the shelves, ordering the Hershbergers not to remove it. A week later, DATCP officials came back to check on the seals and Hershberger denied an inspection.
Hershberger testified that after seeing what DATCP did to his milk, he violated the hold order “to protect the food and feed the families and children.”
This article originally appeared at Watchdog.org.