Leading Canadian Raw Milk Advocate stands his ground with “Agri-Culture”

Convicted farmer Michael Schmidt announces 2018 festival and plans for new arts centre hub

(Durham, ON): Farmer, advocate and conductor Michael Schmidt has been at the forefront of the national battle for the legal sale of raw milk in Canada for over twenty-four years.

In Schmidt’s recent November 2017 court case he was sentenced to fifteen weekends in maximum security at the Penetanguishene Prison for obstructing a peace officer during a raid on his farm. Currently out on appeal, his sentencing was swiftly followed by a permanent injunction issued by Justice P.W. Sutherland in a January 2018 court hearing in Newmarket, Ontario, which restrains any further raw milk production without licenses.

While the battle is headed to the Supreme Court of Canada, Schmidt continues to find new means to stand his ground, this time with his new Centre for Performance and AgriCulture. Continue reading

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Ten Years After the Melamine Milk Scandal in China, Parents Still Don’t Trust Local Baby Formula

From qz.com:

“The fear is so deep-rooted that it goes beyond milk powder—food rumors about things such as plastic seaweed and seedless grapes cultivated with birth control medicines frequently send consumers into a tailspin.

There are at least three reasons for the failure to restore people’s confidence in domestic food, notes Huang Yanzhong, a senior fellow for global health at the Council for Foreign Relations in New York.

 “It’s very hard to have a strong sense of optimism.” 

One is the excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers in the 1980s (pdf, p.3), which has contaminated farmland, and could be transferred to cows that eat that grass. The government has only just started to tackle the problem, Huang said in an interview with Quartz. China also has a top-down regulatory method, which makes it hard for the public to engage with the process, particularly given the lack of press freedom, he says. There is also a general perception of a “moral decline” in China, where people try to make money by whatever means it takes, Huang adds, noting that sometimes even farmers themselves don’t eat what they grow (link in Chinese) for the market….”

Get the full story on Quartz (qz.com).

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Organic Milk is Front-Page News in the Star | Symphony in the Barn 2018 at Glencolton Farms August 3rd to 5th

On Saturday July 7th, 2018, the Toronto Star published a front page story slamming organic milk, claiming that scientific test show it to be no different from regular milk and implying that those who buy it are fools for paying more money for a nutritionally equivalent product. From that story, by investigative reporter Michele Henry:

“While Canada’s organic dairy farmers do some things differently than their conventional colleagues – like sending their cows to pasture and using only chemicals that are considered natural – it’s not reflected in the end product.

“The milks are the same – they are identical with respect to the testing and quality standards. There’s no added hormones. No antibiotics,” says Graham Lloyd, of the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, the quasi-governmental organization that controls the organic and regular milk supply….”

Yesterday, on July 14th, the Star published a collection of letters to the editor responding to last week’s story on organic milk vs regular milk. Here are excerpts from a couple of them:

Nancy Moysiuk, from Etobicoke writes: “Your comments that organic milk is no different than conventional milk is the same argument the agricultural industry states to deride organic produce. Maybe the tests being used are not the right ones to detect subtle differences…”

Mathilde Andres of Harmony Organic Dairy writes: “Our heifers are older when they calve, our cows do not have a calf every year… and most importantly we do not feed for high milk production. Our objective is healthy, long-living cows. The higher price for organic milk is due to a well-deserved premium to the farmer to help with higher production costs, for example organic feed (which means GMO-free and grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides and is three times more expensive to buy….”

Symphony in the Barn 2018

Meanwhile Glencolton Farms is planning another Symphony in the Barn musical event on August 3 to 5, 2018.

Glencolton Farms is now selling organic meat, bread and baking on Saturday mornings along the rainbow wall, at the (year-round) Village Market, located in the Toronto Waldorf School at 9100 Bathurst St. While bridge construction is underway over the summer, you can access the Market from Bathurst Glen Drive, just a little west of Bathurst.

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Stay of Injunction against raw milk was NOT granted | Financial Post story

It was announced today to OFOF farmshare members and Glencolton Farms supporters, via email, by the group’s lawyers, that: 

“…the stay of the injunctive orders of Sutherland J. was not granted. We did, however, get the requested stay, or adjournment of the appeal. In short, Nordheimer J. agreed that there was a serious issue to be determined with the Charter Application, and we take that as encouraging. However, he disagreed that the harm amounted to being irreparable, as he characterized it being the appellants decision not to re-purpose the cows for producing milk in a legal way. Further, he stated that the harm could be quantified as damages. On the balance of convenience, he favoured obeying the law until such a law is declared unconstitutional, or in our case, until exemptions are granted….”

In other raw milk news, Michael Schmidt’s former lawyer, Karen Selick, has written a story on the now-criminal status of raw milk in Ontario titled “You can now go to prison in Canada for providing raw milk. Seriously!”. Here’s a brief excerpt from that story: 

“As Canada ambles along towards the day when its prisons will empty of people who did nothing more heinous than possess marijuana, the province of Ontario appears eager to fill its empty jail cells with individuals whose so-called crime was distributing raw milk.

On Jan. 5, 2018, Justice P. W. Sutherland of Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice imposed an injunction in a case called Downing v. ARC. Downing is the provincial Milk Act Director, while ARC is an incorporated farm co-op that allegedly was distributing raw milk, but has now closed down its milk operation. In essence, the decision transformed an action that was previously a provincial regulatory offence punishable only by fines — distributing raw milk — into a federal crime punishable by up to two years in prison.”

Read more on the Financial Post.

Meanwhile farmshare members and friends of legal raw milk in Ontario are raising funds for the appeal and constitutional challenge through a crowdfunding campaign at:  https://www.gofundme.com/legal-raw-milk-canada

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After Court Today, a Decision Will Be Rendered Sometime Next Week

This morning, both sides made their arguments at the Ontario court of appeal as to whether or not the raw milk injunction should be stayed while our constitutional application is moving along.The judge reserved his decision; our lawyers say we might not receive the decision Monday, but they do expect it sometime next week.
I want to express gratitude to each and every person who came out to the hearing this morning; I think we somehow got to the exact right number (we must have been about 40, maybe more, including several people I spoke to from other cow-share communities). The room was full even after the clerks brought in extra chairs, and while unfortunately a few people could not get into the room, it meant that every time someone left, another took their place. Maybe our presence officially made no difference, but NOT having the room completely full of supporters to witness the process would surely have sent the wrong message that maybe it wasn’t so important to us.
If you haven’t been following the crowdfunding campaign, take a look:  https://www.gofundme.com/legal-raw-milk-canada
And please, please share it widely across social media. The online campaign is just one part of the fundraising picture – individual community members have been generous with legal donations through FarmMatch, cheques and e-transfers – but it’s our primary way of mobilizing support beyond our direct cow-share communities.
Amy.

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Hearing Friday Feb. 23rd at 10 am of Motion for Stay of Injunction

Tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 23rd, the lawyers that we are raising funds to pay for (see post below) will be appearing before a judge at Osgoode Hall to put forward a motion for a stay of the injunction, pending an appeal of the January 2018 decision to grant injunctions to criminalize the operation of the milk bottling and cheese-making operation (aka a “milk plant”) at Glencolton Farms, as well as distribution of milk to Coop members in the Regions of York, Simcoe and Peel.
Estimates are that the courtroom may have space for 30-40 audience members. Some of those seats may be filled with supporters of the injunction. Raw milk and food freedom enthusiasts are encouraged to come out and show their support. The outcome of this motion is very important to the farm and to those wishing to drink the milk
Please be sure to remember to bring your best court room decorum. I’m sure you are all already aware, but the judge will be very irritated by any talking, cheering, cell phones, etc. If anyone has to leave the court room during the motion for some reason, please re-enter quietly and bow to the judge upon entry. Our lawyers will be quite focused going into the hearing, so will not be able to talk much to anyone outside the core group until after.
The motion will be heard at Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West, Court Room No. 7 at 10:00 a.m. If you’re coming, aim to arrive early.
 
The short title of proceedings is: Gavin Downing et al. v. Agri-Cultural Renewal Co-operative Inc. et al.

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Raw Milk Drinkers in Ontario Seek to Raise $100,000 to Challenge Injunction that Criminalizes Raw Milk Distribution

Help us defend constitutional rights of raw milk consumers in Canada!

Raw milk consumers across Canada have spent decades peacefully trying to obtain raw milk from local farmers despite the threat of harassment from the authorities. Finally, some of us have stepped forward to tell the courts that our constitutional rights are being violated by laws restricting access to raw milk – a food that is perfectly legal to consume in Canada.

A January 2018 injunction against anyone “selling, delivering or distributing” raw milk in Ontario was the last straw, criminalizing peaceful citizens who want access to this safe, unprocessed food. So, with the encouragement of leaders from several cow-share communities in southwestern Ontario – we’ve mobilized!

We found a highly experienced lawyer to represent us on a partly pro bono basis, and his legal team has been building our case at lightning speed. In early February they served a Notice of Application against the Attorneys General of Ontario and Canada, on our behalf – 19 raw milk consumers and two raw milk producers, whose freedom of conscience or religion, and security of person, are being violated (under sections 2 and 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms).

All 21 of us applicants made this commitment despite financial risk, the ordeal of being cross-examined, and fear of the unknown consequences of taking on the Government. We did this not only based on our personal conviction, but on behalf of our raw milk communities and other consumers across Canada, who all stand to benefit from this constitutional challenge.

Please help us pay the legal bills: $100,000 during the next ten months. (Regardless of which side wins at the Ontario Superior Court, the decision could be appealed and ultimately the case may be decided by the Supreme Court of Canada. So next year, unless the case is settled, we will have to raise money for the next round.) Continue reading

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