I obtained a text of Wisconsin dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger’s full statement to the judge in criminal court on Friday. It explains more clearly how he realized he erred by signing a bail agreement to discontinue supplying his food club, and where he is headed on his voyage, than the one quote I had in my comment following the previous post. Here it is:
I cannot in good conscience tell the 100+ families who own the food and depend on it to feed their families, that they can no longer get food to feed their families. The Almighty God has spoken and I cannot do otherwise. God’s word in the Bible states in 1 John 3:16-18, quote, “Hereby perceive we the Love of God, because he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the Brethren. But whoso has this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the Love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in Word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
Your honor, I have spent many sleepless hours since signing the bond due to my conscience being plagued by the thought of shutting up my bowels of compassion to my Brethren who are dependent on the food that is provided by and for them on our farm. To most of them it is not merely a matter of preference but much more a matter of life or death! If the owners of the food cannot eat their own food, aren’t we living in a communist state? If our farm stopped feeding its owners’ families, there will be literally hundreds of children who will suffer malnutrition and even starvation. Your honor, I would much rather spend the rest of my life behind bars or even die than to be found guilty of such a gross sin before the Almighty God. Col 3:6, quote, “For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience.”
It seems to me Hershberger came to a realization that his decision to cut the tape placed on his cooler by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection in April 2010 was merely the first step of a long journey, and a step that allows for little hesitation, and no compromise. It’s a realization not unlike Max Kane came to when he decided not to turn over the names of his food club’s farmer suppliers to Wisconsin authorities in 2009, and Michael Schmidt came to when he decided to go on a hunger strike last fall. Once you cross the line to civil disobedience, you must follow the journey through to its logical conclusion.
I think we also understand why the two women were moved to protest in the courtroom. Hershberger has cut to the heart of what this struggle is about. Once you understand how fundamental it is, it is difficult not to be seriously moved.