I’ve been monitoring some of the reactions coming out of Minnesota from the raid Tuesday on the Hartmann milk, and this one is typical:

“I am just shocked. I can’t believe this happened. If this would have happened at my milk pick-up, it would have taken everything in me to remain calm and not go to jail… for real??? My husband doesn’t even consume raw milk (he doesn’t get it) 😉 But he was still irate. I can’t believe it. He said he would have yelled ‘Sir, the only crime being committed here is your beret.’ LOL. UGH, though, seriously. This is SOOOOO scary!!!!”

Smy Opin says it well following my previous post: “I think the folks in MN need chance to absorb what has occurred. They have been preparing, but up until now, the enemy has been theoretical. So in a sense, they were blindsided by the first strike of the battle.”

To help further in absorbing what happened, I’ve posted another video below from the Hartmann customers showing the raid on Tuesday. This one clearly shows the clear police presence. It also shows Roger Hartmann explaining to a news reporter, “It’s not my product. It’s their product.” And perhaps most interesting, at the end, the Minnesota ag inspector with the beret is heard saying that it would be “too dangerous” to allow Roger Hartmann to unload his milk, apparently justifying the decision to tow his truck away.

One of the things that is curious in the Minnesota situation is how loyal customers have been to the Hartmann family and its milk. I discussed this with one customer who watched Tuesday’s events, and she told me she has been buying milk from Michael Hartmann for ten years, and raised her eleven-year-old son on it (who is very healthy as a result, she believes).

What about the people who the state of Minnesota says were sickened by the Hartmann milk, I asked her. She told me that even though she knows many of the other people who buy from him, since most are long-standing customers, she still has no idea who any of the sickened people are.

Now, you’d think that word would get around among these many people who know each other, even though the state must respect privacy laws in not releasing such information. Yet Hartmann had eager buyers on Tuesday for 400 gallons of milk, so obviously few have been scared off by the state’s announcements about illnesses–quite the contrary.

What happens next? Possibly some serious legal action. Minnesota Public Radio said in a report: “State officials say anyone selling adulterated food could face felony charges, punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $20,000 fine. They declined to say whether they intend to file criminal charges.” The report also quoted Bill Marler, the food safety lawyer, as saying filing criminal charges was “a reasonable approach.”

Gary Wood, who is executive director of the Foundation for Consumer Free Choice in Minnesota, and has been a legal advisor to the Hartmanns, says he’ll make a “formal request for a contempt citation and sanctions against the State of Minnesota.” He said the “Minnesota Constitution establishes certain basic rights including Article 13, section 7 which provides that ‘Any person may sell or peddle the products of the farm or garden occupied and cultivated by him without obtaining a license therefor.'”

It seems obvious, based on the ag agent’s assessment that the Tuesday scene was “dangerous,”  Minnesota authorities won’t want a repeat of the Tuesday scenario, since they know that next time, consumers will be more outraged. So I would assume they are planning a strategy to avoid that–perhaps some kind of court injunction against any sales by Hartmann, or maybe even an arrest.

What can customers do to resist? I think Milk Farmer, Mark McAfee and Nancy Jacques have the right idea. The lawyers among us won’t say this because they can’t advise people to break the law, but I will say it. The time has come to stand up in groups, and make them arrest us with our milk, or whatever food they are trying to take from us.

The purpose would be to create the basis of a legal case. One or more consumers would need to step forward in such a situation as on Tuesday and take their milk, challenging the authorities to make an arrest. The charge in such a situation would presumably be disturbing the peace or something similar, but the consumer could argue that the state was stealing his or her food. I’ll leave the rest to the lawyers, but presumably taking possession of your food–food you’ve been receiving regularly for perhaps ten years and you’ve already paid for in a private transaction–to prevent theft would make for a pretty good argument, and something that might make sense to a jury of your peers.

I can’t think of any other options, aside from letting them continue to trample our rights and our access to our food. I have to believe it’s what our forefathers would have told us to do. ?


As kind of an exclamation point to the previous, S510 has now passed the U.S. House and is on its way to the Senate, where another cloture vote will determine whether it comes up. The Minnesota events may well be giving us a preview of life under the “Food Safety Modernization Act”.