Raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt back in the news; main trial on 20 charges coming up January 26th, 2009

 

Farmer Michael Schmidt drinks a toast of raw milk with supporters outside the Newmarket courthouse following a court appearance in Nov. 2008. National Post photo, Tyler Anderson

Farmer Michael Schmidt drinks a toast of raw milk with supporters outside the Newmarket courthouse following a court appearance in Nov. 2008. National Post photo, Tyler Anderson

Future events are already casting their shadows into our present day. News reports such as this one from the Calgary Herald, titled “Raw Milk: What’s the risk?” from January 11th are symptoms of a wide public interest in Michael Schmidt’s case which will be heard later this month, and which many feel is not just about milk, but about people’s right to choose their own road to health and their freedom to not be dictated to by supposed Government “experts”. Here’s an excerpt from that Canwire News Service story by Jordana Huber — this is from the Calgary Herald website, but versions of the same story have appeared on other news outlets across Canada:

“…”Looking for a dairy farmer who is willing to sell me fresh raw milk,” read the online ad posted by someone from Brantford, Ont. “Need about eight-10 litres a week. Realize how sensitive this subject is and am willing to keep quiet about it.”

That ad from December provides a window into the small, but thriving underground raw milk market that exists in Canada.

It’s not illegal to drink raw milk from a cow if you own it; but selling milk that hasn’t be pasteurized is prohibited by federal and provincial regulations.

Scientists have likened drinking raw milk to playing Russian roulette with your health. They warn bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria and Brucella can be found in raw milk and can lead to mild illnesses, long-lasting serious diseases, or even death.

Still, a small but vocal group of raw-milk proponents remains passionate in its opposition to both the science, and the notion governments should tell informed consumers what they can drink. Both sides of the argument will be played out in an Ontario court on Jan. 26, when government lawyers begin their prosecution of dairy farmer Michael Schmidt, 54, for his production and distribution of raw milk and his defiance of public health orders to stop providing it from Glencolton Farms — about 200 kilometres northwest of Toronto.

Raw milk advocates in British Columbia are closely watching the case in preparation for their own constitutional challenge to the province’s milk distribution regulations, scheduled for March.

“It’s the main showdown,” said Schmidt who is planning to defend himself against more than 20 charges laid by the Ministry of Natural Resources under the Health Protection and Promotion Act and the Milk Act.

“I’m totally ready for them,” he says.

Health Canada insists pasteurization, the process of heating milk for a short period to destroy disease-causing organisms, is the only way to ensure milk is safe for consumption. It is required for all milk sold in Canada.

The federal agency has issued several warnings in the past few years against drinking raw milk, noting children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are particularly at risk….”

Read the whole story here.

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