“EDMONTON — Edmonton-area farmers are scrambling to restructure an unpasteurized dairy business after a prominent raw milk advocate withdrew support this week.
On Monday, Ontarian farmer and raw milk advocate Michael Schmidt was in front of Alberta legislature, championing unpasteurized milk — which is currently illegal in Canada — as safe and healthier than pasteurized milk products sold in grocery stores.
While initially championing the cause of Beulah Novelty Food Co-op, Schmidt announced Wednesday he had withdrawn support of Judith Johnson and Eric Pudlo’s Wildwood business, about 120 kilometres west of Edmonton. The decision came after he visited the business, where Schmidt found two “drastic” violations standards set by Cow Share Canada, the organization he heads. Schmidt says the business hasn’t tested incoming cows for communicable diseases, and doesn’t regularly test the sanitation levels of its production facility.
“These are two very crucial elements,” Schmidt said. “We had to tell them to stop providing their cow share members with milk.”
The issue and initial legislature protest was sparked in part by a recent seizure of raw milk from Beulah Novelty Food Co-op….”
“…Reached at their farm, Johnson and Pudlo say they plan to restructure their business to comply with Cow Share Canada standards. However, they admit it’s been a frustrating experience to have Schmidt pull his support.
“We’re kind of upset because we didn’t realize the standards,” Johnson said. “He’s pretty much cut off our livelihood and all of our cow share people are angry because I’m not allowed to ship milk anymore.”
Without Schmidt’s backing, the group can’t afford to risk further confrontations with Alberta Health Services.
The small business has relied almost entirely on word of mouth and friends and family. Johnson and Pudlo currently have eight cows, with only four producing milk at any time. Johnson says the daily volumes of milk vary, from 10 litres produced on Thursday to a maximum of just under 50 litres. Milk is distributed in glass jars washed solely with soap and water. Johnson makes butter with two mixers in a standard country kitchen.
Pudlo says the company accepts Schmidt’s assessment and is planning on restructuring the business to surpass dairy industry standards. It will take an estimated $30,000 investment — an industrial processing room and a new barn — to bring the business up to standard. They have already been in contact with a veterinarian….”