I would like to share this newsletter I received from the Shank family a.k.a. Your Family Farmer regarding the Hershberger case. I am just so sad at what our government is doing to farmers and to consumers.
Fresh Thoughts On Real Food
Quick. Pinch me. This is America right?
Just when we think all history-making events have occurred in, well, history, something comes along that blows all. History happens in front of us! We pinch ourselves. Here’s what is happening even as I write. This is serious.
Vernon Hershberger, an Amish raw milk famer from Wisconsin and father of ten, is in trial right now for selling healthy food to his neighbors. If he loses, he may face over two years in prison and be stuck with crushing fines. Can you believe it? I’m not making this up. A peace-loving Amish man who has never hurt anyone is facing jail time for selling raw milk. And he only sold to his private food co-op cow share members!
This is too close to home! It’s not our family now…but if they can do this to Vernon and his family, what guarantee do we have that our day is not coming! After all, the FDA has openly declared as one of their 2020 objectives to make raw milk illegal in more states and they are funding states initiatives to get it done. (Pssst, hey, five million federal funding for your state budget in 2013 but you must work with us to make raw milk look bad.) Here is what one writer had to say about the atrocity of it all on Monday.
“Vernon Hershberger is Wisconsin’s best-known accused criminal. Like Jesse James, Butch Cassidy, Pancho Villa, Billy the Kid, and plenty of others, Hershberger has developed an “outlaw mystique.” People are flocking to Baraboo, Wisconsin to witness his trial, which begins today.
But Hershberger hasn’t killed anyone. He hasn’t even robbed anyone. His alleged crime: Milking cows and selling the milk – without cooking it first.
Actually, it isn’t Vernon Hershberger who is supposed to cook the milk. It’s the big corporate distributors, who own the commercial pasteurization systems. Hershberger is supposed to sell only to them – not to his neighbors. Guess who wrote THAT law?” read full story
But really, why are we surprised? We were warned. Michael Schmidt (featured in the documentary Milk War) has warned us of the steady steppings of tyranny. (Michael is an Ontario raw milk farmer who is the most intelligent, classy farmer that I have ever met anywhere. He directs classical orchestra in his barn!).
Michael is intensely sensitive to encroaching tyranny. To understand why, you must know that Michael is a recent (1983) immigrant from Germany. His parents lived through Hitler’s reign of terror. Michael was born 9 years after Hitler’s death and as a boy he’d ask his parents how they ever allowed their freedoms to be taken away by the Third Reich. His parents would sadly reply that it happened so subtly. By the time the common people realized what was happening, it was too late. Michael’s resolve and mission is to warn us before it is too late. He has been warning!
The seducing apathy that drugs us who are not yet personally strangled by government over-reach is this: We hear about these things…we know they are real…we believe they are real… yet they seem so unreal that we go into a sort of denial. I know I do. It can’t happen here! We look out our windows…the sun is shining, the grass is green, the birds are chirping and life is normal. (I guess the birds chirped in the green grass and the sun shone around the slave markets of 1850 and at the ovens of Auschwitz in 1943 too!)
We go into denial and into sit-back-do-nothing-because-it-isn’t-me mode because we are not sure exactly what to do. How can we make a difference? Someone will do something. I mean, this is America the land of the free and the brave right?
Right. But remember, the only way the free stay free is if the brave stay brave. If we lose our freedom it is because we lost our bravery first. In the early stages of tyranny, all it takes is enough brave people to stand up and say NO! or maybe sit down and say NO! Think: Rosa Parks…Vernon Hershberger. Think: the Quakers and the Underground Railroad. Brave Americans.
Maurice Ogden’s classic “The Hangman” comes to mind as I soberly contemplate the growing list of farmers and families who feel the cold, heavy hand of “the hangman” on their shoulders. It is always someone else. How many times have I sighed with nervous relief that was not me? It will never be me.
Delusion. Denial. Apathy. Too late.
Folks! We must wake up and know that Vernon is not alone in feeling the hangman’s hand. Even if he escapes this time, this will not be the end nor will Vernon be the last. The Shanks at The Family Cow may be next. The form of attack may be different but the motive and end result will be the same.
Or… you and your family may be next.
There have been numerous instances recently where armed food police/militia have raided civilian homes in search and destroy missions of “illegal foods” (read, local, non-processed, non-industrial food) In some cases swat team style have held families mothers and children at gunpoint for hours while they raided and destroyed their family’s entire supply of stored food.
What are the answers to this urgent Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Food Rights crisis? How can we help? We can’t all go to Vernon’s Trial. We can’t all be Vernon’s customers and support their family through purchases. Most of us can’t even volunteer to milk Vernon’s cows if he does go to jail or while his family is tied up wrangling government red tape and stress. So what can we do? What can brave moms and dads do to make a difference…to help more farmers than just Vernon? What can brave Americans do to help our whole community of connected raw milk farms and families?
Here is the best thing I know you can do. Link up with the Farm To Consumer Legal Defense Fund. (FTCLDF) I know of nothing better to advise you. There is power in numbers. There is hope when we all work together! There is liberty in linking arms for a higher truth and justice. The fine people at FTCLDF make this very thing their life’s work. They are in Wisconsin right now at Vernon’s side. Mark McAfee, David Gumpert, Joel Salatin, and Liz Reitzig are all there too supporting the FTCLDF team advising and defending Vernon. Do your research… there is no better or more effective organization out there protecting farms and moms.
Maybe you think you can’t afford to join the FTCLDF for Vernon. But please do it for us. Our family may be next. I’m dead serious. We have a foreboding sense of urgency. If you cannot do it for us either, we do understand. But please, join at least for yourself and for your children.
The hangman takes one at a time!
Soberly ~ Your Farmers,
Edwin and Dawn Shank & Family
By Maurice Ogden
Into our town the hangman came,
smelling of gold and blood and flame.
He paced our bricks with a different air,
and built his frame on the courthouse square.
The scaffold stood by the courthouse side,
only as wide as the door was wide
with a frame as tall, or a little more,
than the capping sill of the courthouse door.
And we wondered whenever we had the time,
Who the criminal? What the crime?
The hangman judged with the yellow twist
of knotted hemp in his busy fist.
And innocent though we were with dread,
we passed those eyes of buckshot lead.
Till one cried, “Hangman, who is he,
for whom you raised the gallows-tree?”
Then a twinkle grew in his buckshot eye
and he gave a riddle instead of reply.
“He who serves me best,” said he
“Shall earn the rope on the gallows-tree.”
And he stepped down and laid his hand
on a man who came from another land.
And we breathed again, for another’s grief
at the hangman’s hand, was our relief.
And the gallows frame on the courthouse lawn
by tomorrow’s sun would be struck and gone.
So we gave him way and no one spoke
out of respect for his hangman’s cloak.
The next day’s sun looked mildly down
on roof and street in our quiet town;
and stark and black in the morning air
the gallows-tree on the courthouse square.
And the hangman stood at his usual stand
with the yellow hemp in his busy hand.
With his buckshot eye and his jaw like a pike,
and his air so knowing and business-like.
And we cried, “Hangman, have you not done,
yesterday with the alien one?”
Then we fell silent and stood amazed.
“Oh, not for him was the gallows raised.”
He laughed a laugh as he looked at us,
“Do you think I’ve gone to all this fuss,
To hang one man? That’s the thing I do
To stretch the rope when the rope is new.”
Above our silence a voice cried “Shame!”
And into our midst the hangman came;
to that mans place, “Do you hold,” said he,
“With him that was meat for the gallows-tree?”
He laid his hand on that one’s arm
and we shrank back in quick alarm.
We gave him way, and no one spoke,
out of fear of the hangman’s cloak.
That night we saw with dread surprise
the hangman’s scaffold had grown in size.
Fed by the blood beneath the chute,
the gallows-tree had taken root.
Now as wide, or a little more
than the steps that led to the courthouse door.
As tall as the writing, or nearly as tall,
half way up on the courthouse wall.
The third he took, we had all heard tell,
was a usurer…, an infidel.
And “What” said the hangman, “Have you to do
with the gallows-bound…, and he a Jew?”
And we cried out, “Is this one he
who has served you well and faithfully?”
The hangman smiled, “It’s a clever scheme
to try the strength of the gallows beam.”
The fourth man’s dark accusing song
had scratched our comfort hard and long.
“And what concern,” he gave us back,
“Have you … for the doomed and black?”
The fifth, the sixth, and we cried again,
“Hangman, hangman, is this the man?”
“It’s a trick”, said he, “that we hangman know
for easing the trap when the trap springs slow.”
And so we ceased and asked no more
as the hangman tallied his bloody score.
And sun by sun, and night by night
the gallows grew to monstrous height.
The wings of the scaffold opened wide
until they covered the square from side to side.
And the monster cross beam looking down,
cast its shadow across the town.
Then through the town the hangman came
and called through the empty streets…my name.
I looked at the gallows soaring tall
and thought … there’s no one left at all
for hanging … and so he called to me
to help take down the gallows-tree.
And I went out with right good hope
to the hangman’s tree and the hangman’s rope.
He smiled at me as I came down
to the courthouse square…through the silent town.
Supple and stretched in his busy hand,
was the yellow twist of hempen strand.
He whistled his tune as he tried the trap
and it sprang down with a ready snap.
Then with a smile of awful command,
He laid his hand upon my hand.
“You tricked me Hangman.” I shouted then,
“That your scaffold was built for other men,
and I’m no henchman of yours.” I cried.
“You lied to me Hangman, foully lied.”
Then a twinkle grew in his buckshot eye,
“Lied to you…tricked you?” He said “Not I…
for I answered straight and told you true.
The scaffold was raised for none but you.”
“For who has served more faithfully?
With your coward’s hope.” said He,
“And where are the others that might have stood
side by your side, in the common good?”
“Dead!” I answered, and amiably
“Murdered,” the Hangman corrected me.
“First the alien … then the Jew.
I did no more than you let me do.”
Beneath the beam that blocked the sky
none before stood so alone as I.
The Hangman then strapped me…with no voice there
to cry “Stay!” …for me in the empty square.
“…I did no more than you let me do.”