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Jurors Doing Justice & Jury Nullification | 22 Sep 2012

Jury Clears Minnesota Farmer in Raw Milk Case


A Minnesota jury has refused to convict farmer Alvin Schlangen of three victimless “crimes” related to raw milk distribution.

Minnesota Farmer Cleared in Milk Case

A soft-spoken Minnesota farmer was cleared of violating state laws for distributing raw milk Thursday, a verdict advocates for such foods called their first major legal victory.

After a three-day trial and more than four hours of deliberation, a Hennepin County jury found Alvin Schlangen not guilty of three misdemeanor counts of selling unpasteurized milk, operating without a food license and handling adulterated or misbranded food.

Schlangen, an organic egg farmer from Freeport, Minn., doesn’t produce milk himself but operates Freedom Farms Co-op, a private club with roughly 130 members who buy various farm products, including raw milk. Schlangen picks up the milk products from an Amish farm and delivers them to members.

He was charged in 2010 after Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) inspectors discovered his products at Traditional Foods, a south Minneapolis natural foods outlet. Under Minnesota law, milk that hasn’t been pasteurized (heat-treated to kill harmful bacteria) can be sold only in limited amounts on the farm where it’s produced. Schlangen, who testified on his own behalf, maintained that he was operating a private cooperative and not a business. He also noted that no one got sick from the milk he distributed.

Farmer Acquitted in Minn. Raw Milk Trial

A Minnesota man charged with violating the state’s restrictions on raw milk sales was acquitted Thursday in what he and his supporters called a victory for consumer freedom.

Alvin Schlangen, an organic egg producer from central Minnesota, was charged with three misdemeanor counts of distributing unpasteurized milk, operating without a food handler’s license and handling adulterated food. Minnesota law prohibits raw milk sales except directly to consumers on the farm when it’s produced.

The three-man, three-woman jury deliberated for about 4 ½ hours before returning not guilty verdicts on all three counts in Hennepin County District Court.

Schlangen, 54, said he was prepared for the decision to go either way “just because the system doesn’t let the jury realize they have the power to disregard a stupid law.”

We applaud the jury in this case for their conscientious deliberation and for delivering a just verdict for a peaceful individual.

Schlangen faces similar charges in another county in October. Vernon Hershberger will also go before a jury in the coming months in Wisconsin for charges related to raw milk distribution.