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Raw Milk Deliveries to Twin Cities Trips Up Michael Hartmann

Michael Hartmann, the 59-year-old Minnesota dairy farmer, is in more trouble over charges involving the sale of unpasteurized milk.

It was just last October that Hartmann was putting legal problems behind with a plea bargain that saw him plead guilty to just two misdemeanor counts, one for illegally selling raw milk and raw milk products and the other for selling other foods, such as beef and pork, without food licenses.

In the plea deal, other counts against Hartmann, his wife Diane and brother Roger and business associate Linda Schultz were all dropped by state prosecutors.  Hartmann agreed to a $585 fine and unsupervised probation for six months and further promised he’d comply with state licensing and labeling laws.

He did not make it. In January, the Gibbon dairyman was charged with delivering raw milk to customers in the Twin Cities. After that, state investigators discovered 300 gallons of bottled raw milk during a search of the Hartmann farm.

Hartmann was charged with three more violations: selling raw milk, mislabeling food products and selling food without a license.

The raw milk dairy has been under scrutiny since 2010 when its products were associated with a dozen illnesses, including E. coli infections.

Hartmann’s farm lost its Grade A diary license in 2001. While Minnesota only allows pasteurized milk to be sold within its borders, the one exception is milk that is “occasionally secured or bought for personal use by any consumer at the farm where the milk is produced.”

On-farm sales are not allowed to extend to front door deliveries to people who live in the city.

© Food Safety News
  • Russell La Claire

    Geez, looks like that $585 fine didn’t have much of an effect. Who could have known?

  • *the one exception is milk that is “occasionally secured or bought for personal use by any consumer at the farm where the milk is produced.”*
    Okay so what is the difference between secured and bought? Both words are used with the word “OR” so they must mean different things. Definition of secured; guaranteed or protected; safe, assured
    So then by this definition, if I call the farm directly and order 6 gallons of milk, haven’t I  “secured” it. It is now guaranteed and protected for me. Why now can’t the farmer deliver it to me if this is what we privately agree upon? Where does it say that delivery is not allowed?
    And what about the word “occasionally”? Defined as: on occasion; at times, as convenience requires or opportunity offers; now and then, intermittently.
    So who determines what is occasionally? If I live 1 mile from a farm and I secure milk about every 2-3 days, is this occasionally? After all I’m not going every day on a “regular” basis. If I live 50 miles from the farm and I secure my milk about every 7-10 days, isn’t this occasionally as I’m not there every day either. Wording like occasionally is vague and arbitrary. 14th Amendment, Section1 Due Process: Statutes which lack the requisite definiteness or specificity are commonly held “void for vagueness.” Such a statute may be pronounced wholly unconstitutional (unconstitutional “on its face”).
    The Dept of Ag does not have the authority to determine in each separate case what they define as being occasionally or what they determine secured to mean. They are overreaching their powers and it’s about time someone stands up to them!
    But above and beyond all of this is the Minnesota Constitution that guarantees a farmer the right to sell and PEDDLE the products of his farm or garden without a license. Definition of peddle; to sell goods, especially while traveling from place to place. Do we no longer acknowledge the Constitution? What other rights are the citizens of the USA ready to give up?

    • The prosecutor that prosecuted him, and his legal counsel who represented him, had no problems understanding the law. We have to assume he has sufficient command of English to understand what “following the law” means. 

      He played the numbers and he lost. 

      • Huh? Isn’t he following the law if the law says a farmer does not need a license to sell the products of his farm? Isn’t it actually the other side who is not following the law by trying to prosecute him for not having a license?

        • He is required to have a license. Where did you get the idea he didn’t need to have a license? 

  • Too bad the USDA isn’t this stringent with Big Ag that regularly poisons us with salmonella outbreaks and e-coli deaths.  Picking on the small farmers, the real backbone of our nation, is a slimy thing to do. 

    • People can get sick from milk from a small farmer as much as they can from a large concern. If the farmer isn’t following the law, regardless of size of operation, people are more likely to get sick. 

      As the story noted, this farmer has already been associated with a foodborne illness outbreak. 

  • federalmicrobiologist

    Let’s face it, Michael Hartmann is going to continue selling raw milk for as long as he can get away with it.

    He’ll certainly cloak his actions with much rhetoric about a heroic stand against excessive federal interference, a lone activist Speaking Truth to Power, a single man fighting a noble battle against the oppressive US government, etc., etc.

    The only thing that will stop Hartmann is when  someone gets seriously, or perhaps fatally, ill with an infection contracted from drinking his raw milk.

    They sue Hartmann, and the resultant litigation forces Hartmann to sell off his herd and his land. No more raw milk from the Hartmann operation.

    No doubt the Raw Milk Crowd will sob and wail about the how the fascists have engineered the demise of yet another purveyor of a wholesome, wonderful, life-affirming food, etc., etc.

    Hopefully, someone won’t have to die, or wind up with an ostomy, or on dialysis for the remainder of their life,  before Hartmann can be put out of business.

    • Nobody is being forced to by his products. And you can’t pick up raw milk in MN at a store or farmers market. You have to go way out of your way to even find a source for this “white stuff” and pay at least twice as much as in the store.  Nobody can buy raw milk accidentally. And undoubtedly, they are very aware of the risk involved.  Why then is it solely the farmers fault when someone gets sick from raw milk? Shouldn’t some of the responsibility be on the buyer?  Buyer beware. Interesting isn’t it that sales of raw milk continue to increase while the only publicity it receives from the mainstream media is bad publicity. Can you name another product that can do that?

      • “Why then is it solely the farmers fault when someone gets sick from raw milk?”

        You are joking, right? 

  • Miranda Ganski

    Michael you rock!! Keep up the fight!!!

  • Miranda Ganski

    Federalmicrobiologist you’re are the type of person that should suffer from disease caused by bullshit government regulations. Just continue to keep people unhealthy by controlling what their knowledge about nutrition and what they are allowed to eat. Regulations that keep this nation on track for solidifying our title as the unhealthiest country in the world. But hey its profitable. You need to get a clue.Your mind set is on the out’s……thank god!!!

  • Karen

    I applaud this Farmer and compare him with Rosa Parks. Some laws are just plain wrong.

  • Wendy K

    What is wrong with you Michael, dont you understand yhe government wants to control everything, including what we eat, and of course want to feed us garbage…