I think it’s fair to say that this letter to Michael Schmidt from cow share member Shirley Ann Wood expresses feelings shared by a great many:
We were both pleased and impressed by the judge’s development to his conclusions and the conclusions themselves. Congratulations. I hope you take the time to celebrate, because it is important to fully acknowledge this joy and share it with others.
I spoke with George briefly and congratulated him. I heard so much of what he had developed in his legal advise to you during the time he was working with you, being presented in the judge’s presentation. The concept of the private contract versus public commerce was absolutely vital in the determination of the verdict. Like Max Kane from Wisconsin said, “What a learning experience!”
The judge’s presentation was fascinating (underneath all those case numbers etc!), including acknowledging the integrity of your farming practices and character….especially when Susan Atherton claimed she had bought cheese and you had said that she had been given cheese. Step by step he comprehensively and legally mapped out his conclusions. In George’s words (or close enough approximation) and with a big smile, he said to me after the ruling, “We just saw the law do what the law is suppose to do!”
When the judge stood and walked out, one of my positive feelings were of a gentle pride that our justice system had just taken a leadership role in this fight for rights to choose good foods for our body; and in this case, upholding our contractual program between farmer and individual to obtain raw milk. Whether or not this case is appealed, the judge has provided a strong and comprehensive foundation. That work is much to be thankful for.
I do believe there is still a constitutional issue, not just from the farmer’s perspective, but from our perspective. I think it is completely discriminatory that every individual who is not a dairy farmer, does not have the same rights as a dairy farmer and the dairy farmer’s family, to drink raw milk. By virtue of the fact that I live in the city and cannot keep my own cow in my backyard (or apartment if that was where I lived!), I am not accorded the same privileges as a dairy farmer regarding consumption of raw milk, unless I have found a farmer that I can enter into a private contract with.
Throughout this process, you have drawn inspiration from leaders in history, such as Mandela. I too had been thinking of Mandela, but I also had been drawing parallels to a Canadian hero, Louis Riel. But, I never mentioned this, because Louis Riel’s fight was lost and he was executed. As we were driving to court, I was thinking about Riel, and how he fought for a cause he knew intrinsically was right,… and I thought….history does not need to repeat itself, as a people, we can learn from history’s mistakes and move forward.
To my pleasant surprise, we, the people of Ontario did! The judge found you not guilty, and approved of our cow/farm share program. We can become true leaders, which is not about domination and control, but about doing what is good for each other, the people, the earth…..and our beloved cows.
Thank you so much Michael, for standing up through all of these proceedings, and continually going forward. And a huge thank you all those who have surrounded you in this cause, past and present. It is truly heroic.
Cow share and farm share member.