The following is a roundup of news and views on the raw milk situation in Ontario heading into the May 29th and 30th court dates at which the injunction applications by the Ontario Milk Director and by the Region of York will be considered. If approved those injunctions would result in court orders shutting down the “milk plant” at Glencolton Farms, and distribution to Our Farm Our Food Coop members in York Region and elsewhere. The proposed injunctions would also criminalize the act of advocating the consumption of raw milk:
This video was recently posted by farmer Michael Schmidt:
From Liz Reitzig:
The Canadian Government is gearing up to criminalize raw milk consumption!
Show up to court on May 29-30 at 9:00am. This hearing is the most crucial one in the 23 years of the raw milk battle in Ontario. It goes to the core of food rights.
- Show up in court on May 29-30, 2017 9:00am to send a clear message that Canadians care about food rights. (If you are unable to make it due to geography or logistics, please share this message far and wide) The courthouse is located at 50 Eagle Street Newmarket Ontario
- Donate to help cover ongoing court costs https://www.gofundme.com/foodrights
In October 2015, Glencolton Farm was raided for the third time. During this raid, several farm owners stood in defense of their right to farm and have access to their foods. Continue reading
An Organic Farm Under Threat
Azure Farms is a working, Certified Organic farm located in Moro, Central Oregon, in Sherman County. It has been Certified Organic for about 18 years. The farm produces almost all the organic wheat, field peas, barley, Einkorn, and beef for Azure Standard.
Sherman County is changing the interpretation of its statutory code from controlling noxious weeds to eradicating noxious weeds. These weeds include Morning Glory, Canada Thistle, and Whitetop, all of which have been on the farm for many years, but that only toxic chemicals will eradicate. Continue reading
From the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund:
“This June the trial of Ontario dairy farmer Michael Schmidt and three other farmers for obstructing a police officer will resume. The charge stems from a 2015 raid of Schmidt’s Glencolton Farms where members of a food cooperative obtaining raw milk products and other foods from Schmidt stopped police from confiscating those foods.
The province of Ontario and local government authorities have been prosecuting Schmidt since 1994 for distributing raw milk, spending millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money in the process. The sale and distribution of raw milk have remained illegal throughout this entire time in all Canadian provinces. It’s interesting to contrast the provinces’ refusal to change laws on raw milk sales with legal developments in the U.S. over the past 23 years.
While provincial and local governments have been wasting millions of dollars since 1994 in prosecuting Schmidt, 16 states in the U.S. have either legalized the sale and/or distribution of raw milk or increased access to it through changes in statute, regulation, or policy. The states are Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Continue reading
Michael Schmidt raw milk story is getting some “ink” on Modern Farmer:
“The latest court battle isn’t actually even about distributing raw milk, per se. Schmidt and four others, John Schnurr, a business consultant; and George Bothwell, Robert Pinnell, and Enos Martin, all farmers, were charged with obstructing a peace officer after a standoff at Schmidt’s farm during a October 2015 raid by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Ministry of Natural Resources, along with local police. This was the third raid on the farm. The first was in 1994 and the second in 2006,
In this latest raid, around 50 people—mostly co-op members—blocked the farm’s entrance with a tractor and prevented the officers from removing some of the farm’s equipment. Pinnel and Martin later had their charges dismissed, but the other men, who are representing themselves, are still fighting it out in provincial court. After a 1o-day trial in March, the case was adjourned until June due to scheduling conflicts. The prosecution has finished its case and the defense is set to begin when the trial resumes, says Schmidt….”
Get the full story on “Modern Farmer”.
Recently there’s been a lot of ink spilled over the imminent legalization of marijuana in Canada. Rick Salutin’s recent column in the Toronto Star, titled “Pot laws looked like they’d never change — Then WHAM”, seems particularly applicable to the not-too-dissimilar challenges around raw milk legalization:
“Deep social change happens so slowly it looks like nothing is happening. Not just over years but decades, maybe longer. Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing. Then WHAM. The imminent legalization of (nonmedical) marijuana is a perfect example. Its perfectness even has a generational, father to son, symmetry.
Back in 1969 the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau appointed a royal commission to recommend policy on marijuana. Its head was a future Supreme Court justice. They heard hundreds of witnesses, including John Lennon, and in 1973 reported. Two of the three members recommended decriminalization for possession and cultivation; the third supported legalization. No one suggested keeping it criminal. It must have been what Trudeau wanted. You always select people knowing what they’ll give you. Then nothing nothing nothing — till the son. Continue reading
by Beverley Viljakainen
Three of the five men charged with obstructing a peace officer during the October 2, 2015 raid on Glencolton Farms comprised the defence at the trial that began in Walkerton on March 6, 2017: Robert Pinnell, Michael Schmidt and John Schnurr, each representing himself. Robert Pinnell was acquitted during the second week of proceedings and the trial was adjourned on March 23 until additional dates and court space can be arranged, to be finalized on April 12. It is anticipated that another three days will be needed, the judge’s ruling to be handed down thereafter.
As one of Michael’s witnesses, I was unable to be in the courtroom until after I testified, but I did spend some time in the waiting room in support of those inside. The rather large police presence, both inside and outside the courtroom, was not missed on anyone. Each day there were usually four OPP uniformed officers, heavily armed at the waist, sitting or standing across the back of the courtroom, while three others sat in a small meeting room adjacent to the waiting room until it was their turn to relieve those inside. It felt like a very them-us situation and I began to wonder if they felt safer in there? Was it a status thing? Were we who were waiting in the larger area the proverbial ‘other’ to them? Suffice it to say that, for me, it was a very strange way for a police officer to spend his or her working day and there were a lot of them having to do just that. Continue reading