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Appeals court upholds Wisconsin raw milk farmer's conviction

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A state appeals court refused Thursday to throw out a conviction against a Sauk County dairy farmer for selling unpasteurized raw milk.

In a case that drew national headlines, Vernon Hershberger of Loganville tried convincing a jury that he didn't have to follow state rules regarding his milk -- because his hundreds of buyers were in a private club that did not sell raw milk to the general public.

State agriculture inspectors placed a holding order on his product, ordering him not to sell it.

Hershberger was charged after doing so, and he was convicted of violating a holding order. He was fined $1,000, and the Fourth District Appeals Court uphold the conviction Thursday.

The state Justice Department praised the ruling, saying the appeal was not a referendum on the safety of raw milk -- but rather, it involved the way Hershberger got around the state's holding order.

The defendant's lawyer has not commented.

Supporters of raw milk say it's healthier and tastier than pasteurized milk. Opponents said the product could lead to foodborne illnesses, and ruin Wisconsin's world wide reputation as a dairy leader.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)