A brief history of raw milk in Ontario

This chronology is admittedly not all inclusive as it focuses solely on Glencolton Farms and Michael Schmidt. Other raw milk producers have certainly been operating in the province during these years. However, we unfortunately don’t have sufficient information on their stories to be able to include them properly in this survey:

Out behind the barns at Glencolton Farms. Photo: Andrea Lemieux

1990 Michael Schmidt starts first cow share model in Ontario at Glencolton Farms

1994 Grey Bruce Health unit raids Glencolton Farms

1994 Charges are laid under the Milk Act and the Health Protection and Promotion Act. Under duress Michael Schmidt pleads guilty to protect his family from further threats. He receives a $3,500 fine and a 2 year probation. Schmidt lost 2/3 of his farm and most of his cows.

1995 Michael Schmidt delivers a research proposal to the Provincial Ministry of Health, Provincial Ministry of Agriculture and the Dairy Farmers of Ontario to jointly study on his farm the safety and quality of raw milk and its effect on the consumer. Both Ministries and the Dairy Farmers of Ontario turn proposal down, Schmidt immediately publicly announces at a press conference in Toronto only 6 months after court ruling that raw milk production under his cow share program will resume. However, he would go on a hunger strike IF there would be another raid on his farm.

2006 After almost 12 years of milk production, the MNR ( Ministry of Natural Resources) joint by the Provincial Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Health, the local Health unit, the Ministry of Finance and the Canadian Food inspection Agency raid the farm with 25 armed officers to confiscate dairy products and dairy equipment. Michael Schmidt goes on hunger strike. Michael Schmidt receives a total of 20 charges under the Health Protection and Promotion Act and the Milk Act.

December 2006, Queens Park: Conservative MPP Bill Murdoch introduces Private members bill to study the safety of raw milk in Ontario. Bill is turned down after brief discussion. Michael Schmidt stops hunger strike after 4 weeks as a gesture to encourage a constructive dialogue with the various Ministries. Michael Schmidt starts Constitutional Proceedings regarding his charges.

November 2007 Press Conference, Queens Park on first Anniversary of Raid: Michael Schmidt and cow share owners present information packages for every MPP in Parliament about raw milk regulations around the world, and a proposal regarding how Ontario could implement its own regulations. Not one response.

May 2008 York Regional Health Unit files Contempt of Court Charges.

September 2008 Trial regarding Contempt of Court Charges in Newmarket despite that there has been no ruling on the other charges, as to whether in fact Michael Schmidt broke the law or not.

October 2008 Michael Schmidt is fined $5,000 plus $50,000 costs. He refuses to pay. Still pending.

November 2008 Press Conference Queens Park on Second Anniversary of Raid: Michael Schmidt presents the Premier and the two Ministers responsible for Health and Agriculture another package containing extensive research on Raw Milk with yet another appeal to enter into a constructive dialogue.

January 2009 Six-day trial in Newmarket. Ruling to be announced January 21. 2010 — one year after trial and three years after farm raid. Since then Farm has doubled its herd size to almost 50 cows due to increased demand.

Glencolton Farms provided in the last 3 years over 1 million servings of unpasteurized dairy products to its cow share members without one single reported case of illness.

During the same time period over 20 people died after eating cold cuts contaminated with listeriosis, which came from Government inspected Maple Leaf Foods plants. No charges have been laid and the company continues to produce and sell cold cuts despite repeated recalls and reported illnesses and further deaths.

Elise and Michael Schmidt in the Glencolton Farms orchard. Andrea Lemieux photo.

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One response to “A brief history of raw milk in Ontario

  1. Pingback: Raw-milk-supporting MPPs Randy Hillier and Bill Murdoch holding sit-in at Queen’s Park to protest new sales tax « The Bovine

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