The Bovine has obtained court documents pertaining to the case against farmer Michael Schmidt, which will be heard beginning January 26th, 2009 in Newmarket, and we will be sharing them with our readers:
In June of 2006, a complaint was received by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs from the York Regional Health Unit regarding the possible distribution of unpasteurized milk to a location at 9100 Bathurst Street in Thornhill, Ontario. The matter was eventually turned over to the Ministry of Natural Resources to investigate whether the sale or distribution of unpasteurized milk and or milk products was actually taking place. Through investigation it was learned that the suspected products were being delivered by Mr. Schmidt using a converted school bus, which had been painted blue.
The defendant in this case is Michael Schmidt, born June 13, 1954. He resides at L44 C3, Glenelg Township, 393889 2nd Concession Rd., Durham, Ontario. Mr. Schmidt is a farmer, and operates a farm at this location. Mr. Schmidt is in the business of providing specialty foods including baked goods, meat, fruit and dairy products; the dairy products he provides are unpasteurized milk and cream, and products that are made from unpasteurized milk, including cheese and quark. According to the Milk Act of Ontario under Section 15(1), it is illegal to operate a plant without a licence, and according to section 15(2), it is also illegal to carry on a business as a distributor without a licence.
Investigations reveal that Mr. Schmidt has developed a “cow share membership” scheme whereby he sells shares of cows to the public, so that he can subsequently supply them with milk. According to Mr. Schmidt, members pay a fee to care for the milk cows, cows which the cow share owners have purchased a share in (usually 1/4 of a cow for $300.00). he denies that he is actually selling milk or milk products. He suggests that the cow share owners bought a part of the cow, and are therefore drinking their own milk.
As a result, an investigator was assigned to apply to become a cow share member, in order to have access to and purchase milk and milk products from Schmidt. Anything purchased would be tested to confirm whether or not the milk and/or milk products were pasteurized. During the time it took the officer to be allowed to become a member of the cow-share program, the officer learned (from documents provided by Mr. Schmidt and other people associated with the bus) that cow share members understood they were consuming unpasteurized milk and milk products. Newsletters and membership handbooks praised the use of these products, as well as provided and “instruction manual” outlining the responsibilities of a person once he/she became a member, including a statement stating that members consume raw milk at their own risk.
On August 22, 2006, (and without a membership), at 9100 Bathurst St., Thornhill, Ontario, the officer purchased cheese from Mr. Schmidt on the bus. The officer also observed Mr. Schmidt distributing products that appeared to be milk and milk products to other people. On October 17th, 2006, at 9100 Bathurst St., Thornhill, Ontario, the officer again attended the bus in an effort to become a cow share member and was not permitted to purchase a full membership because there was a waiting list; however the officer was able to purchase some more cheese. As in the previous visit, Mr. Schmidt was also servicing other customers who were there to obtain milk and milk products from him. The officer observed observed milk and milk products being received by customers and money was exchanged with Mr. Schmidt. Eventually the officer was advised that she would be allowed to become a cow share member, she would only be allowed to purchase milk if she were willing to attend Mr. Schmidt’s farm store located on his property in Durham, Ontario.
On October 20, 2006, the officer and another officer did attend the farm in Durham. A cow share membership was purchased for $300.00. On that date, several items including milk, cream, quark and cheese were purchased. The officers observed other people purchasing items believed to be unpasteurized milk and unpasteurized milk products at the store. They also observed the layout of the farm and were shown the area where milk was collected. While touring the farm they also noted that the farm appeared to be operating as milk processing plant, including cheese being processed. October 27, 2006, the officer again attended the farm and purchased milk and cheese. On both occasions the products wee physically sold by one of Schmidt’s employees named Beverley who was helping to run the store.
On November 7, 2006, the officer purchased milk from Mr. Schmidt on the blue bus. This was the first time milk had been purchased by the officer at the bus itself and this confirmed that unpasteurized milk was being distributed by Mr. Schmidt from the blue bus. Once again, other customers were observed purchasing items which appeared to be milk and milk products on this date.
To be continued
Note: Minor errors may have been introduced while copying the printed copy which was made available to the Bovine.