Criminalizing raw milk makes Canada look ignorant — even to Americans

Is this man a criminal? Farmer Michael Schmidt talks to media outside the Newmarket court house October 20th.

Is this man a criminal? Farmer Michael Schmidt talks to media outside the Newmarket court house October 20th.

Here’s an editorial by Kimberley Hartke, writing from the United States. Believe it or not, even the Americans take a more enlightened attitude to raw milk that do we in Canada. Thanks to Pam Killeen for passing this along to The Bovine:

Dear Canada: Michael Schmidt is Not a Criminal

There are three compelling reasons why Michael Schmidt’s cow-boarding program is not wrong and why all 20 charges against him, including the recent contempt finding, should be dismissed.

Number one: The raw milk he produces has made no one sick—in twenty years. Claims by his health officials and competitors that his product is ‘dangerous’ are just that– baseless claims designed to scare the public, with the end goal of preventing the increasing popularity of raw milk. The Milk Marketing Boards are right, modern, industrial dairy products from factory cows need to be pasteurized. In contrast, Schmidt’s raw dairy is inherently safe because the cows are not confined, and they are raised in their natural habitat, on green grass pastures in plenty of sunshine.

Of course, a product produced on a mass scale, for mass consumption needs strict safety measures and controls. But a small-scale producer has quality controls of a different sort, high standards for animal husbandry, plus, face-to-face contact with the end consumer—all of which mean effective accountability and transparency.

Number two: Across the border into America, hundreds of cow boarding programs, and cow leasing programs are operating legally. Many of them are in states where it is illegal to sell it. (In no state is it illegal to purchase, possess or consume raw milk.) Twenty-eight U.S. states currently allow the sale of raw milk, and eight states allow retail sales. In all but a few US states, buying a share in a herd, farm or cow is recognized as a legal private contract.

When Judge Boswell acknowledged that the Schmidt ruling, “had nothing to do with whether or not people have the right to consume raw milk,” he actually touched on the heart of the issue. Consumers will naturally seek legal and ethical means of exercising their rights in a free society. When sellers are forbidden to sell, and owners are the only ones able to consume, more people will strive to become owners.

Which brings us to Number three: Michael Schmidt is not selling milk. He is providing boarding services, grazing lands, and delivery services to the shareholders who own the cows. He is a service provider, not a seller. It is a stretch of the Ontario Milk Act to say he is selling raw milk.

This man is not a criminal.

Convicted Oct. 20, 2008, sentenced Dec. 2, 2008 -- is this man a criminal?

The fact is many raw dairy consumers have serious health reasons for choosing this unconventional food. I have a painful knee condition, chondro malacia patella (runners knee). The only medical option is knee replacement, and yet, I am too young to have the surgery. My family now owns a share of a cow named Aster, and my knee pain has been greatly alleviated by adding raw dairy to my diet. I am very grateful that the Virginia Department of Agriculture helped a local dairy farm draw up plans for a legal cow-boarding program.

The Washington Post ran a story of how this same farmer’s raw milk saved the life of a baby who was failing to thrive, who was literally dying. In their desperate search for answers, the parents found a recipe for a therapeutic formula, made with raw milk. They bought a cow share and the formula saved their child’s life.

I would hate to see Canadian courts cut your citizens off from a potentially life-saving option.

Kimberly Hartke of Reston, Virginia is the publicist for the Weston A. Price Foundation , a nutrition education non-profit, based in Washington, DC. Their Campaign for Real Milk inspired her purchase of a cow share. Visit her blog, Hartke is Online at”


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7 responses to “Criminalizing raw milk makes Canada look ignorant — even to Americans

  1. Pingback: Real Food Media Blog Network » Dear Canada: Michael Schmidt is Not a Criminal

  2. George

    Yes, he is a criminal.

    If he wants to change the law, he should pursue the right channels and not put the public at risk.

    Yes, raw milk is safe about 90 to 95 % of the time, including on Schmidt’s farm. That’s not good enough.

    This is not a matter of personal choice since several of the pathogens that can be present in ANY raw milk cause transmissible diseases.

    He is putting my children at risk by breaking the law. He is doing this to make money.

    He feigns altruism but he is selling (conservatively)more than $400,000 in milk at $3 per litre to his devout followers. Does he declare this cash sales income and pay taxes? He admits NO HE DOES NOT.

    An 11 day old Peterborough child died when it contracted listeria from an infant whose mother was an asymptomatic carrier. This 11 day old infant did not choose to die, but it did die!

    Schmidt is NOT Gandhi or Martin Luther King as he has suggested, he is just an arrogant man who believes he is right and that society and science are wrong.

    Let’s stop kidding each other. Schmidt used to be a licenced, inspected and quota holding famer. He sold the quota, put that money in his pocket. Now he is not licenced or inspected but he takes $45,00 from his flock each year plus more than $400,000 in undeclared income.

    How much did Gandhi make for his salt?

    • cheryl housto

      Mr Scmidt had to sell 500 acres of his land in order to pursue this case, so I really dont see how he is in it for the money.
      The huge Dairy Cartels which you support by buying their product are certainly in it for the money.
      If you wish to feed your children antibiotics, growth hormones, and pesticides which are amply supplied in pasteurized milk from factory farmed sickly cows that is your choice, WE simply want the opportunity to choose between raw and pasteurized milk.
      I was raised on raw milk . I also fed it to my children whenever it was available.
      My 30 year old daughter has never had a cavity in her life.
      I support the Campaign for Real Milk and cannot believe in this modern age with the knowledge of science we now have that the most healthy, wholesome and wonderful tasting food is forbidden to the public!!

  3. Cheryl Hadden

    Gandhi made history with his salt and Mr. Schmidt will make history too.
    Michael Schmidt is a hero, it takes heroes to make change in this world. Brave souls who dare to stand up for truth and justice despite personal hardship, just like Gandhi did.
    Gandhi freed a nation from tyranny.
    And so will Michael Schmidt.
    As for you, you, won’t do anything but whine, simple as that.
    You have no proof for your claims, no basis in truth behind you.
    I’m sorry about the baby that died, but what did that have to do with the story at all?
    Nothing, just a red herring thrown in to help pump up your scare story.
    Life is precious and we should be doing everything we can to help keep going, not throwing up unneeded roadblocks to healthy food for our families.
    You sound bitter and evil hearted, bordering on the vengeful.
    Got a personal bone to pick with Mr. Schmidt because he dropped out of your dairy group?
    Only someone with access to his financial records would dare to make a statement about what he does or does not pay.
    So much for your objectivity, poof, gone.
    You also obviously have not watched your baby gagging and throwing up on the garbage formulas on the market. Haven’t listened to his pitiful cries as the stuff makes his poor little tummy ache and roll because of the additives and artificial gunk the formula contains.
    Funny, there are no hard set rules on what a baby formula contains or should contain, as long as it’s not raw milk.
    You have never been the frantic parent searching, red eyed and bone weary, for something to feed your baby that is not soy based or filled with a plethora of various sugars that cause intestinal distress or allergy.
    You’ve never searched for a consistent source of breastmilk, either.
    I’d rather continue to take the so-called risk of disease from raw milk than ever allow my son to consume any more processed formula of any kind.
    But he is not ill anymore, neither is failing to thrive anymore. He’s going on 3 and loves to eat raw milk cheese.
    And in the end, that is all that matters to me.
    Bootleg, black market or cow share, I’ll take my raw milk anyway I can get it.
    It’s past due time for people to stand up for the right and authority to eat and drink and grow what they believe to be best for them and their families.
    And like I said before, Michael Schmidt and farmers like him are the real heroes of this world, not buttheads like you.
    God bless you Michael Schmidt!

  4. RadiantLux

    “Yes, raw milk is safe about 90 to 95 % of the time, including on Schmidt’s farm. That’s not good enough.”

    Not good enough? There are no guarantees in life. Remember the tomato and spinach scares? Nothing is 100% safe. It is coming to light that pasteurization isn’t the end-all and be-all of “safe” food. Eating dead dairy products causes chronic health problems for many people which subside or are eliminated when they consume raw dairy.

  5. What’s all this nonsense about this being a free country??? If I want to drink raw milk, it’s nobody else’s business. My husband is American and my children were raised on it. My youngest son was NEVER sick and invariably when we came home to Canada for a visit and the raw milk was unavailable he would get congested and other symptoms within a few days! People who claim that it’s dangerous are just plain ignorant. And by the way, pasteurized milk may be contaminated as well, it is not 100% safe as big dairy would like you to believe. I feel much safer drinking the milk from a couple of cows who I’ve met, had the farmer show me his farm and how he runs it, knowing that his babies drink the same milk as my babies. And I don’t think he’s getting rich either…I suppose most people these days know very little of the time and money it would take to run a farm right!

  6. yeahright

    George aka Bill Marler right?

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