Farmer in raw milk case receives a break

Michael Hartmann
Dairy farmer Michael Hartmann stands outside of the Sibley County Courthouse in Gaylord, Minn. on August 19, 2010.
Mark Steil / MPR News, File

A state judge has declined to punish a southern Minnesota farmer for selling raw milk and violating the terms of his probation.

State district court judge Erica MacDonald made the decision at a hearing Wednesday in Sibley County District Court in Gaylord, Minnesota.

Michael Hartmann pleaded guilty to selling raw milk illegally in 2012 and was given probation. But he admitted in court that he continued to sell the unpasteurized product off the farm, which is against state law.

Assistant Sibley County attorney Don Lannoye prosecuted the case and says farmer Michael Hartmann should have been penalized.

"Our feeling is that declining to impose a consequence for violating the court's order, eviscerates the meaning and legitimacy of the court's order," Lannoye said. "So we felt that to not do so, really takes away all meaning from our original plea agreement and the original sentencing order."

With the criminal case settled, Hartmann said he will continue to sell raw milk at sites in the Twin Cities.

"Because right now at this point nobody has really said that it's violating any rules or regulations on that," Hartmann said.

State agriculture officials say other enforcement actions are pending against Hartmann, but declined to give specifics.

The Minnesota Department of Health in 2010 found that Hartmann's raw milk products sickened more than a dozen people.

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