Michael Hartmann, the Gibbon, MN, farmer who admitted breaking state law by selling raw milk and other unpasteurized dairy products to consumers, has avoided jail time and been released from probation. Sibley County District Court Judge Erica MacDonald determined Wednesday after a hearing in Gaylord, MN, that Hartmann should not be assessed further penalties for his actions, and she dismissed a charge against him of probation violation. Defense attorney Zenas Baer called the judge’s decision a “rebuke of the state.” “The court affirmed the bedrock principle that the state cannot insert itself into a private transaction between consenting adults to buy a natural product, or interfere with the type of foods that a parent might choose to nourish their family with,” Baer said. Assistant Sibley County Attorney Donald Lannoye took a very different view. “It’s our position that court orders need to be followed,” he said. “And that when they aren’t followed, consequences need to be imposed. When a court finds that a person violates a court order and does nothing about it, we believe that calls into question the legitimacy of the court order.” Judge MacDonald had ruled earlier this spring that Hartmann was violating terms of his probation by continuing to sell raw milk away from his farm and not cooperating with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, which continues to investigate his activities. Minnesota law only allows on-farm sales of raw milk. In 2012, Hartmann pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of illegally selling raw milk and raw milk products and selling beef and pork without a license. That action was part of a plea agreement which reduced a nine-count complaint to the two misdemeanor counts and headed off a jury trial. At that time, Hartmann was fined $585 and sentenced to unsupervised probation for six months. He also agreed to follow all state licensing and labeling laws. Raw milk and raw milk products from his farm had been linked to an E. coli outbreak in 2010, which sickened at least eight people. Later that year, three people were sickened with Campylobacter and four with Cryptosporiduim parasites, both of which were reportedly found on his farm. After the E. coli outbreak was linked to Hartmann’s dairy operation and inspectors reportedly found objectionable conditions there, Hartmann was ordered to stop selling raw milk until the problems were fixed. He maintained that no E. coli was ever found in his raw milk and that his products have not made anyone ill.