Raw Milk Producer Fined $55,000 — Globe and Mail readers speak up

Sun media reporter interviews a cow share member on the question of raw milk rights, October 20th, following the guilty verdict for farmer Michael Schmidt

Sun media reporter interviews a cow share member on the question of raw milk rights, October 20th, 2008, following the guilty verdict for farmer Michael Schmidt.

The Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper is one of many media outlets carrying the Canadian Press story about Michael Schmidt’s recently announced fine for contempt of court. Here’s an excerpt from the story, followed by a selection of reader comments:

“NEWMARKET, ONT. — Ontario raw milk producer Michael Schmidt has been fined a total of $55,000 by a judge after being found guilty in October of contempt of court charges.

The judge fined Mr. Schmidt $5,000 on the charges and told him he had to pay $50,000 in court costs incurred by York Region in prosecuting him.

It was $3,000 less than the prosecution had been seeking.

Mr. Schmidt told Bayshore Broadcasting news he has no intention of paying the fine or the court costs….”

“…..Early next year, Mr. Schmidt will stand trial on 20 charges laid by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Grey-Bruce Health Unit.

Mr. Schmidt pointed out he had been found guilty of contempt of court, even though his actual case on selling raw milk hadn’t been heard in court.

He said it’s up to the court to decide what to do next, because he won’t pay the fine, a defiant attitude he showed after his conviction in October.

He vowed on the steps of the Newmarket court to continue to sell raw milk.

“Yes, we will continue with what we’re doing,” Mr. Schmidt said as he and several supporters made a show of chugging back glasses of milk.

He also went on to liken himself to Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

“When Gandhi picked up the salt, he kept marching, and when Martin Luther started the Montgomery bus strike, he kept going until the law was changed,” Mr. Schmidt said.

Raw milk advocates have claimed they drink it for its flavour, organic properties and health benefits.

Justice Cary Boswell said at the time that his ruling had nothing to do with whether or not people have the right to consume raw milk, but rather whether Mr. Schmidt knowingly defied the court order to stop selling it.

The judge cited news articles in which Mr. Schmidt admitted he sold the milk and that he knew the consequence of ignoring a court order as the basis for his finding of guilt….”

And here’s a sampling from the reader comments that follow the story on the Globe and Mail website:

“Ann Ig Norant from Canada writes: In every country raw milk is legal. It should simply be certified. Instead of this witch hunt our health departments should set up a certification program. The customers should have a choice.

Hee Hoo Sai from Canada writes: It won’t be long till Ontario will have no industry except those who have the means to produce from what resource they have. This nanny persecution of the small business man is why Ontario is a have not and will remain that way.

Shane Thompson from Pickering, Canada writes: You have to admire the guy, he’s inspiring. stick it to the man Michael Schmidt.

little miss sunshine from BC, Canada writes: if it’s legal for him to produce disease causing milk, then i don’t want my tax dollars to pay for the diseases people get from drinking it. people fail to understand that listeria can kill you, and that’s why it’s illegal to sell it. this guy is no hero in my opinion. he is a jerk who is putting public health at risk.

these same people cry foul when meat is not inspected and people get sick. you have to decide, do you want the government to regulate and provide public health services, or are you American. might want to try those premiums and deductibles first, folks.

REV eighteenseventeen from Canada writes: little miss sunshine from BC- Hey missy, methinks you are a dairy farmer, feeling a bit threatened by someone that stands up against all these corrupt monopolies. Or you could be a brainwashed government worker. Let him sell his milk if that is what people want. Keep your lousy tax dollars, and allow a little liberty in this country.

sun vann from nelson, bc, Canada writes: little Miss, You wrote: if it’s legal for him to produce disease causing milk, then i don’t want my tax dollars to pay for the diseases people get from drinking it. What a silly stupid setence. Prove that raw milk kills. Where’s your proof ? I think you must be the CEO of the Milk Marketing Board or some undercover agent for the Health Dept, under the disguise of your ‘ little miss’ moniker. Michael is a brave man fighting for the rights of the consumer to drink raw untreated unpasteurized milk. My 3 children, my wife and I raised our kids on raw milk, as do thousands of rural folk in this country. It’s basically ‘ big milk business’ (Milk Marketing Board) trying to stop what could eventually ruin their business. Once again we see the Health Dept thinking that they know what’s best for the public. It’s like Big Pharma controlling what people need for their medical needs, when drugs kill more people then they help. How stupid that raw milk can’t be consumed when THOUSANDS in Canada are consuming it daily, with no health consequences, actually it’s healthier drinking raw milk than the bland watered down pasteurized stuff called ‘milk’ that’s sold in supermarkets. Keep up the worthy cause, Michael !! Thousands are supporting you !

Tim bit from Canada writes: Why so little choice? The reason they started pasteurizing our milk was to make sure that sloppy and dirty farmers could make a living and no one would die. Michael Schmidt has the cleanest cows, cleanest milk processing plant, everything is impeccable and this is how he makes sure no bacteria gets into his milk and this is why he has been selling it to raw milk enthusiasts for decades without any case of illness. But our government wants to give a chance to all those who are sloppy and will get rid of the sh1t by pasteurizing or get rid of listeria by irradiating. So Little Miss Sunshine can drink her sh1t without getting sick. Some of us want it clean, raw and healthy.

BEN DOVER from WESTERN CANADA, Canada writes: If I were this farmer I would start selling drugs instead of milk. Canada’s courts are far more lenient on drug dealers.

Sanjay Singh from Waterloo, Canada writes:
This is so dumb. We have so many other things that are far more dangerous and far more controversial that need addressing in the laws and in the courts, and here we are fining a humble farmer over $50K …

I hope this man prevails and that judge is sacked, and the beaurocrats behind this case as well. All of them should be in the poorhouse for this travesty.

larry hallatt from Canada writes: ontempt yes, the citizens are feeling contempt with the State and politicians in general. Civil disobediance may grow as common sense is pushed to the side. The judical and polkitical system is loosing repect of the public, if one group can occupy as in the case of Caledonia, harm others and not be prosecuted and yet another farmer who harms no one is held in contempt the corts and politicians are practicing racism. The problem with the administration of laws and the creation of laws is justice is blind, equity and fair play do not exist and people who choose to defy become our social heroes. These officials who do not use common sense jeopardize the application of laws. Laws are not enforceable when a population decides they are unfair. 90 % of our laws only work when the population is in agreement to self police their own behavoiur. Any enforcement system breaks down once the threshold changes and large numbers tell the system to go to hell. We are entering a dangerous era when official do not use sound judgement. Officials and enforcemenyt officers are our employees. The people are the employers and utimitely must make the judgements.

Joseph Whistle from Canada writes: Imagine being able to buy pure raw milk, the hole thing, from a farmer. People would be able to make cheese.
People could market cheese at a cost at least five (5) times cheaper than the current total and utter in your face rip off prices of store bought cheese right now.
Most Canadians don’t know good cheese if they fell over it, anyway, because it’s kept away from them – by the government.

Adam Boyle from Seoul, Canada writes: We continue to alcohol and tobacco because the law ruled that people had the right to harm themselves by purchasing dangerous substances. Is raw milk more dangerous than alcohol and tobacco? The courts seem to be making a stronger stand on organic farmers than the tobacco industry. Leave this man alone and then let us worry about real food & health issues.

Ruth Walker from Edmonton, Canada writes: I think that the standard for business transactions ought to be full disclosure. Provided the supplier completely discloses the risks of a product, and provided the regulatory agencies have a chance to insert their warning labels, there is no reason to block the sale of raw milk.

Most places in Canada, raw milk is readily available on the underground market. It would be wiser to bring all such transactions into the light, so product issues can be monitored and corrected.

Yes, I am proposing to place increased responsibility upon consumers. And yes, I do understand that some people can not read. Why not address the latter problem with a skull-and-crossbones icon, indicating products which are not government approved. Surely everyone would notice that!

There has to be a compromise that works for everyone. We don’t need the heavy hand of the law, just reliable information to support consumer buying choices.

Jack Bauer from Canada writes: Have you heard any fined going against Chinese importers of lead based product? No that would hurt business, this judgment seems to be more about the judges utter contempt for the man than justice.

John Doe, from Toronto, Canada wrote: Hey, great comments folks. I especially love how REV eighteenseventeen, sun van and Tim bit are responding to little miss sunshine. Let me take this opportunity to introduce you all to a locally based blog focusing on raw milk issues:


Of course, we think Michael Schmidt is performing an exemplary bit of public service by taking on the raw milk project that he has been taking on for the past fourteen or so years. And you’ve got to admit that the regulators and the judiciary are all helping out as best they can to raise public awareness of the raw milk issue.

Here’s hoping that “we the people” can bring some sanity to bear on the situation before it devolves into an irretrievable mess. Stay tuned for the trial in January.

Read the whole story and all the comments here.



Filed under News

2 responses to “Raw Milk Producer Fined $55,000 — Globe and Mail readers speak up

  1. AS

    The primary issue people should have with raw milk is whether merchants selling it are providing a sanitary environment from which the milk is produced. According to what I’ve read, it sounds like Mr. Schmidt is doing just that. It’s not as though he has poisoned someone who died and now the family is suing him for selling a tainted product. This is a revolutionary occurrence and we should view it as such. If people don’t stand up for our rights in health and clean food, our health care and food systems will continue to deteriorate downward as they have for the last 150 years since the Industrial Revolution.

    Keep up the great work, Mark! I believe in you and what you stand for – which is clean, honest, wholesome food that doesn’t require government regulations because farming practices have become sloppy and profit-driven and those responsible don’t want to take accountability for what they’ve done. Visit Agriculture Society for informative articles on topics such as raw milk, real food, nutrition, sustainable living, and holistic health…

    -Raine Saunders

  2. Pingback: More from Globe and Mail readers — the feedback just keeps on coming « The Bovine

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