Vernon-plow-trailerAs Amos Miller is about to watch USDA inspectors invade his farm, under a federal court order, it seems like a good time to re-visit how another farmer went through a similar crisis.

Beginning nearly a decade ago, the state of Wisconsin began an inspection campaign against dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger, which culminated in a criminal trial in May 2013. Following the trial, at which Hershberger was acquitted by a jury of the most serious charges, a group of his supporters decided to put together a documentary about the trial and the events leading up to it.

The group formed a nonprofit organization, known as AP76, of which I am a part, raised a small amount of funding, and completed a trailer designed to encourage further support to complete the film. The fund-raising for the film, tentatively entitled “An American Farmer on Trial”, has been slower to happen than Hershberger’s supporters would have liked.

We’ve not shown the trailer before, but now, as Amos Miller seems about to begin a journey similar to that of Hershberger, it seemed an appropriate time to make the trailer public.

This trailer is really more than your typical trailer. While a typical trailer is a couple minutes long, this one is six minutes in length. It includes gripping footage from a number of official inspections, along with several legal episodes, including one of the judge in the case admonishing lawyers to keep raw milk out of the the trial, and then reactions of several jurors to the judge’s order.

You’ll recognize a number of the individuals interviewed in the trailer, including Elizabeth Rich of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, Max Kane of FarmMatch, and of course, Vernon Hershberger. Among those you may not recognize are Wisconsin dairy lobbyist Shawn Pfaff and chief defense lawyer Glenn Reynolds. Some of you may recognize old friend and Wisconsin cheesemaker Bill Anderson.

You will also get a feel for the support behind Hershberger among the members of his food club. One of the things not as visible as it should be is the behind-the-scenes work of organizers like Liz Reitzig and Gayle Loiselle in making the public so aware of this case that when a roomful of jury candidates was asked how many had heard about Hershberger, nearly everyone’s hand went up.

One of the things that strikes me now about the trailer is how long and arduous the legal journey was. Hershberger’s trial lasted only five days, but the inspections and demonstrations and legal hearings stretched over several years.

If history repeats itself even roughly, then Amos Miller could be in just the initial phase of his legal journey when the government inspectors arrive at his Pennsylvania farm tomorrow (Monday).