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Herschberger, an Amish farmer, started a buying club, a modified form of community sponsored agriculture, whereby members could purchase his farm products, including unpasteurized milk. The club provided food for many local people in the area. Many of us from Wisconsin, the Dairy State, have had unpasteurized milk, and many are fans of it for a variety of reasons. There are farmers who will provide it for individuals under the table, but it is not legal to sell it. The US government sets food safety standards for milk products that requires its pasteurization. There are variations in rules state by state, but there are usually some restrictions on raw milk sales for safety reasons. The government has not been heavily aggressive in targeting small producers like Herschberger, so this unusual case has gotten attention and is considered a bellwether.
It is interesting to note that many are calling into question the milk safety standards and prefer to have raw unpasteurized milk. Herschberger provided the product and that's why the government went after him. He was charged with four crimes, but acquitted on three of them. This is considered a victory, since the only charge that stuck was the one that accused Herschberger of selling products on hold after a raid on his farm. He didn't want the food to spoil while the government wheels turned.
I have mixed feelings about this case. There is no doubt that pasteurization has saved the lives of many people. Yet, I also think that people can take whatever risks they want to take with food. Everyone I know who got raw milk from farms in Wisconsin knew the risks they were taking.
But here's the point. Those who got the raw milk from farms knew the farmers. They trusted the cleanliness of the barns and the health of the animals. I don't know if anyone would or should trust raw milk outside of these local conditions. The outcome of the trial is likely to change the government's response to raw milk sales in food clubs. They will probably be left alone.