The case against Vernon Hershberger, who faces criminal charges related to raw milk sales, will go before a jury next month.
The Wisconsin dairy farmer's religious beliefs do not clear him of legal responsibilities, Sauk County Circuit Court Judge Guy Reynolds has ruled.
Hershberger’s attorneys had argued that his Christianity prevented him from exercising his legal rights to appeal the state’s order to discontinue raw milk sales, according to the Portage Daily Register.
“None of (the religious tenants cited by Hershberger) prohibit, on their face, the exercise of any secular rights,” Reynolds said during his ruling on Monday.
The ruling is the latest in the legal saga surrounding Hershberger. After the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection raided Hershberger’s dairy farm in June 2010, officials ordered Hershberger to stop selling his products. Hershberger was defiant, however, and kept his raw milk business open despite attempts by the authorities to shut it down. Though Hershberger faced jail time for ignoring the order to cease sales, Reynolds declined to revoke his bond.
Hershberger’s trial is now set to begin on May 20.