Michael Schmidt shuts down Alberta cowshare farm over not meeting Cow Share Canada operating standards

This just in from Michael Schmidt (revised 4:40 pm):

In a surprise move, Raw Milk Advocate Michael Schmidt announces today that he has put a stop to the Alberta cow share operation which has been in the news lately because it did not meet the basic standards required under the Cow Share Canada guidelines.

Michael went to visit the operation Monday November 8, following a media conference he held at the Alberta Legislature.

“This is the very reason we founded Cow Share Canada,” says Biodynamic Farmer Schmidt, “to ensure that those who are part of the program meet certain minimum standards, which are in fact higher than the ones set by the dairy industry, in order to have safe and healthy raw milk for cow share members.

Since Cow Share Canada took over the responsibility of the local cow share operation, Schmidt has been relentless in his attempts to contact Alberta Health Services to discuss the issues, but received no response whatsoever.

“The horrendous assault brought on to Judith Johnson by the health authorities is still in my mind, completely despicable and abusive. This is not the way a government body should be operating.” said Michael Schmidt.

For [media] inquiries please contact Michael @ 519 369 8137


Filed under News

26 responses to “Michael Schmidt shuts down Alberta cowshare farm over not meeting Cow Share Canada operating standards

  1. Just as WalMart is now dictating local ag standards here in the US, I am happy to see CSC is stepping into what Health Canada has failed to do with clean raw milk production.

    It must have been a hard decision to shut the operation down– but CSC must adhere to high quality standards to set the example in North America by exceeding health/dairy standards.

    Good moove, Michael.

    • Kathleen

      Rest assured, if Michael shuts down a project he has a VERY good reason- the health and safety standards just don’t cut it. There has to be a standard! He runs an immaculate operation. Anything else is substandard!

  2. Yola

    Is Michael planning on visiting many of the cow shares in Alberta?

    • If he does, perhaps more dairies will be shut down.

      • Bernie

        I could be wrong here, but Cow Share Canada took over control of that cow share and so it was their decision as to shut it or not.

        I can’t see Cow Share Canada walking on to a cow/herd share and being able to simply shut it down, unless that cow/herd share was a member of Cow Share Canada.

        Can anyone elaborate on that, I’d be interested to know how that would work.

  3. latte_girl

    Congrats Michael! I’m sure that this was not an easy decision, but creating an industry standard is an important step in creating industry respect.

    I once heard a radio program on the history of VQA (Vinter’s Quality Assurance) which is used by the Canadian wine industry to ensure a quality standard. VQA was a grass roots movement started by concerned winemakers. Let’s hope that Cow Share Canada has the same success.

  4. I would be interested to know why the farm couldn’t conform to the standards set by CSC. Could it be a ploy-to show the health officials how serious CSC is about their standards? One for the team???

  5. 1. Please send me a copy of the proposed Cow Share Canada guidelines or send me a link to where it is posted.
    2. Did the agisters and members of the cow-share program in Alberta agree that they did not want to continue?

    I guess what I am asking is did Michael Schmidt have a mandate from the Alberta cow-share mention above to close down the operation if there was not way to make the project safe? Did the agisters close to avoid continual legal difficulties with the government?

    I was hoping that herd-share and cow-share programs would be “member regulated”. I feel in Canada we are over-regulated regarding food processing, distribution and retail. Yes, I want raw milk to be safe but safely costs money. And there are many levels of “safety” that can be purchased at an increasing cost to the end consumer. I would like the members to be able to “choose” the level of safety affordable to the member.

  6. I guess what really bothers me about this situation is that I want to be able to sell a small amount of raw milk to my friends and neighbors. I do not want to create another level of government regulations, rules and bylaws so that I can enjoy my glass of milk with my family and friends.

    It seems every time “we” take on the government to ensure our collective freedoms, somehow “we” become a force of the government. “We” design the government’s new policies and create the new laws. Maybe “we” don’t know everything and “we” well end up taking away the freedom’s of the end user.

    All I want is to be able to access and enjoy nourishing traditional foods. I want to be able to buy from a farmer or rancher I know and trust. I want the government to get out of my business transactions especially if their “rules and regulations” will mean my food supply with become extinct along with the ranchers and farmers.

  7. Michael

    Charlotte and Caroline
    cow Share Canada had taken over formally the operation to provide legal protection against authorities who go after you as individual.
    You might have followed some stories how farmers get targeted and in fact get financially destroyed through legal actions which can be founded or unfounded. It is always the farm family which faces the reality of financial ruin.
    Being part of the training, inspection, and standards will give protection and support.
    I do know that some people believe that we should have no restrictions and standards in regards to the production of raw milk.
    If you want to go that route than we will for sure have sooner or later problems and as a result Government will have the proof they need to implement a total ban on raw milk.
    I will shortly post a more detailed explanation how the decision was made in Alberta.
    Nobody is forced to join Cow Share Canada.
    Cow Share Canadas purpose is to preserve the standing we got in court and to demonstrate that we are concerned about proper production procedures.
    If we do not unite in some form to create a presence farmers will ne squashed like flies.

  8. Michael I think it would be irresponsible not to have guidelines and standards with the production of raw milk but I am just curious about why they don’t seem to be publically available? If ‘safety’ of raw milk is the goal, shouldn’t we all know what these standards are as well as where to test? Not just members of a CSC club?

  9. latte_girl


    I can’t believe you said “safety costs money” as an argument against regulating raw milk. I’m sure that you didn’t mean it the way it sounded! People can get seriously ill and even die if raw milk is not produced under sanitary guidelines.

    I recently commented under the Pasteur section of this site my experiences trying to obtain raw milk in New Mexico (impossible), a state where raw milk distribution is actually legal.

    Sanitary raw milk is never going to be as cheap as pasteurized milk. It will be a consumer choice to spend the extra money. But I (like others) am willing to pay $5.00 for a loaf of sprouted grain bread over $0.97 for a loaf made with refined flour.

    However, there are lots of people across Canada and the US who can only afford the $0.97 bread. These same people will never be able to afford raw milk. We’ll never here from them on this site as they are too concerned with surviving than imagining some food utopia.

    But truth be told, I would choose pasteurized milk over unregulated* raw milk any day.

    * I would recognize Cow Share Canada as a non-government regulator.

    • Hi Latte Girl,

      Just a little background about me. I have my own Jersey cow that I milk with a pail in the pasture. During the summer months when the grass in growing, my cow produces a vast amount of milk, far more then my family can consume. Presently, I freeze the milk and dry-off my cow when there is no green pasture for her to eat. My family lives off the frozen milk until my cow gives birth in the spring to her new calf.

      My milk costs me over $4.00 per liter in direct costs in hay, grain, natural supplements and pasture lease. I am not putting in any costs for my labor for milking, care of the animals, nor pasture management.

      The question is my milk safe? My family consumes the milk and we don’t get sick. Friends that visit my home drink the milk and don’t get sick. I have wondered if I should go through the extra trouble and expense to do scheduled testing of my milk? I have wondered how often would be “safe” enough and which standards should I follow?

      As you can see, I have thought a lot about costs of production of this sacred food. I have thought a lot about the cost of “safety” and it does have a cost.

      I believe it is best for the herd-share members to discuss and decide on the level of safety the members feel comfortable with. In some groups that might be no testing, in other groups monthly, or even weekly testing. (Organic Pastures in California does daily testing, but they are the largest raw milk dairy in the state milking over 400 cows and can spread these costs over thousands of consumers.)

      I think the closer we are to the source of our food supply the more trust we can place in the people producing the food. I want nourishing traditional foods to be available to everyone that wants the food. More regulation and rules doesn’t always equal safety either. Knowledge about your food supply will get you more “safety” then anything else I know about.

      • nedlud


        You make sense to me, latte_girl doesn’t.

        See my post to you below which is satire.

        People are already sick (and stupid), to believe as they do.

        a farmer whose happy life has been destroyed by regulation and regulators who create and sustain a ‘boogeyman’ for consumers to fear and thus prevent and destroy health instead of protecing health as they claim.

  10. latte_girl


    I certainly understand your dilemma. You invest a lot of money in your cow, and wish to find ways to off-set that investment especially when you have an excess of product. And the expense of testing your milk when you have one cow, not a herd, seems silly.

    But if you can’t afford to test your milk, I wouldn’t be selling the milk even under a cow share model. Even giving it away could be dangerous.

    Ignore the whole government interference factor. Bad luck and someone gets sick. In civil court, someone only has to prove that they “probably” got sick from your milk: they do not have to “positively” prove it. Without a record of testing results you’d have virtually no chance in proving their sickness was “probably” from something else.

    Civil litigation would likely bankrupt you. And in my experience, friends and neighbours sue each other all the time. There are many lawyers excellent in explaining that litigation is merely “business”, separate from friendship and no one should be offended at being sued. Even if you could demonstrate that your friends knew the risks of drinking raw milk, as the girl with the cow you’d probably be held to a higher (fiduciary) standard.

    So what to do with your excess milk….. In the days before fridges and freezers, a family would get their daily raw milk supply. What they didn’t drink would be divided. A certain amount set aside to make yogurt, cheese and butter. The rest of the milk would be scalded (cooked, but at a higher temperature than pasteurization). The scalded milk would be used in baking the most rich and decadent breads and pastries.

    Scalding lost favour to pasteurization because it changes the flavour of milk more than pasteurization. But I happen to love the taste (why else would I identify myself as a latte_girl).

    Baking with scalded raw milk is a lost art. I’ve read your website and I know that you’re interested in cooking and creating new recipes. Why not revitalize the tradition of farmhouse baking? There are lots of good recipes that you could use as starting points on the internet (try searching for traditional Croatian, Serbian, Polish, and Russian desserts).

    Alternatively, you are in the unique position to make a local, small-batch (high end) cheese. I believe that the only restriction on raw milk cheese is that it must be aged for a minimum of 60 days. Cheese may ultimately yield a better return on your investment than plain milk anyways.

    • Hi Latte Girl,

      You said: “But truth be told, I would choose pasteurized milk over unregulated* raw milk any day.” You will likely get you wish.

      Blessing on your food.

      • nedlud

        To Caroline Cooper~

        Obviously, in this day and age of up-t0-date scientific and laboratory inspired knowledge, the more natural and traditional a practice is, the more DANGEROUS it is.

        Raw milk MUST be stringently and constantly tested by people (technicians and certified experts) who are best suited to protect the public at large.

        Just as ‘organic’ milk MUST meet a higher laboratory standard, ‘raw’ milk MUST be forced to meet a higher laboratory standard still. Inspections should be a round-the-clock routine. We are talking about avoiding DANGER, remember.

        You should pleased and privileged to PAY any amount in order to obtain such protection.

        How we ever got to this point through the ages without such protection I’ll never know.

        Michael Schmidt should be appointed ‘raw milk czar’ of Canada with utter and absolute authority to establish and enforce ALL protections, codes, standards and procedures. His salary should become commensurate with his tremendous authority. He should be given a large and well-paid staff of dedicated and obedient professionals ready to enforce that authority. This is the only way to avoid possible problems between the farmer and the farmer’s next victim, even if that victim is the farmer him- or her- self. Everyone is a potential victim and is in great danger when it comes to eating, this we know for certain.

        Greater testing, greater security. Life is just too dangerous to leave to any chance.

        And that is that.


  11. latte_girl


    For a satirical argument, some of it sure sounds logical to me. Especially the comparison between raw milk and organic milk. I’m willing to pay more for organic items because the label is an assurance of a quality standard. As much as I’m in favour of raw milk, it is an extremely volatile substance. If I can’t raise and milk the cow myself, I want some assurance of a quality standard.

    And I find arguments like “how we ever got to this point through the ages without such protection”….. to be absolutely ludicrous. Many people never made it. There are still third world countries where they have an over-abundance of children to compensate for those who will die in infancy. Children are especially sensitive to food borne illness, their immune systems have not matured. I’d find little solace in someone saying “your daughter died, but look at what you stood for in the natural food movement.”

    I am a very educated and informed woman. I want to support small scale farmers who practice traditional methods. I am truly sorry that your happy life has been destroyed and I am willing to help you fight the mythical “boogeyman”. But not by risking my daughter.

    • nedlud

      ‘Bernard is right; the pathogen is nothing; the terrain is everything’–Louis Pasteur’s death bed words.

      You didn’t give me any support when I needed it.

      Good luck with your daughter.


      • thebovine

        Now Ned, Do you think that’s fair?

        I don’t think latte_girl even knew you aside from through your comments on the Bovine.

        How can you say she didn’t give you any support when you needed it?

  12. Pingback: Real Raw Milk Facts - Information on Raw Milk

  13. Pingback: At Weston A. Price Gathering, Grumbling Over Raw Milk, and Fears Over Government Raids; Michael Schmidt’s Crackdown; Rational Thinking from Academia? - David E. Gumpert at Chelsea Green

  14. Kurtis

    Standards are one thing, but it is the community as a whole who should have decided on those standards. The only person who can shut down THEIR cow share is the cow share members/owners. Anything other than that is a dictatorship and the tactics of the government agencies we have all fought against.

    If they where that dirty then the responsible thing for CSC to do would have been to help educate, and facilitate a solution.

    This is what CSC was supposed to be from the beginning of the concept. It was never meant to be the new corporate milk marketing board.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s