Is raw milk in Canada headed towards disaster? — Michael Schmidt

Michael Schmidt wrote this while he was en route to his Ruttgers University speaking engagement later today:

I just left the Wise Traditions Conference in Philadelphia and arrived at Prof. Heckmans house close to Ruttgers University.

Tomorrow I will have a chance to present a Canadian perspective to the whole Food Rights debate which rages across North America in various forms(GMO debate, corporate agriculture, regulations, and individual rights)

I left the conference with great doubts about the future of raw milk in Canada.

I had discussions with several Canadians attending the conference and have to admit I was shocked how naive and ignorant some proponents of raw milk are.

The Emerging awarness about the nutritional value of raw milk has created a hugh demand and farmers begin to see a great opportunity too make money fast and furious.

In the US the FTCLDF ( farm to consumer legal defence fund) struggles to determine which cases they take on knowing very well that they have to set some guide lines or standards across the US sooner than later.

They need to have some criteria whom to defend.

Here in Canada specifically in Ontario we sitting on a time bomb ready to explode.

According to some personal information from participating Canadians there is a frency out there to fill the current demand of raw milk.

Right after the raw milk ruling I warned people about the dangers of looking at this ruling as if raw milk is now legal in Ontario.

Raw milk is not legal and cannot be made legal by creating a quasi sort of cow share structure without understanding the detailed ruling by Justice of the Peace Kowarsky.

His ruling was based on the record of a 16 year old dairy operation with highest production standards and production procedures;

No cows bought in, testing, intimate knowledge of animal care, feeding and milking.

The bio- dynamic farming principles have all been part of this integrated and sophisticated farming management.

One week after the ruling I organized a meeting in Guelph with farmers who showed interest and wanted more information.

I proposed to create voluntary standards based on the ruling and an organisation which could take on education, training, inspection, and accreditation of farms to preserve the hard won victory.

We organized Cow Share College with many farmers taking part.

Hundreds of urgent calls from people wanting raw milk NOW needed to be answered.

It appears that little attention is paid to proper proceedings and joint efforts.

The raw milk war is now raging in Ontario based on grasping market shares instead of learning and understanding how to produce a safe and healthy product.

The lack of understanding amongst the consumers to see what it takes to become a skilled  raw milk producer is disturbing and creates a situation which potentially could lead to even stricter rules against the consumption of raw milk.

We are encountering an explosive mix of political posturing about individual rights without rules and regulations.

We are encountering ignorance about the basic conditions on farms which are required to meet the standards of accountability towards Government and consumer.

We are encountering a dangerous mix of greed mixed with philosophical rightiousnes which could derail the current hard fought peace granted by the court.

Judging by the outcry of a few about my decision to close down the Alberta cow share operation, we are becoming our worst enemy.

We are our worst enemy.

Freedom is not free. Freedom means the highest form of responsibility.

What happens currently in Ontario is nothing else than demonstrating that there is a lack of responsiblity to work togethetoon order to preserve the little freedom we just gained.

Simply put: it makes me sad how little people understand the need of true and open accountability towards Government and fellow human beings.

If we demand the fundamental right to be free of Government interference than we have a moral obligation to act with the highest standards of utmost respect and responsibility.

My efforts are geared towards fighting for our fundamental rights and trying to understand the small minded opportunists who do not want to see the big picture.

I guess this struggle is not new in the thousands of years of mankinds journey towards justice.


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23 responses to “Is raw milk in Canada headed towards disaster? — Michael Schmidt

  1. I think most people who may want to run a cow share operation understand that standards have to be set.
    A lot of ‘little’ people felt that Schmidt was battling for their right to have a couple cows that they hand milk and might sell a few bottles of milk or maybe some cheese. They feel that the formation of CSC is a slap in their face.
    CSC is for those who want to make a living at a raw milk operation and of course that makes a difference. 40 cows milked into a bulk tank has a lot more inherent safety issues than 1 cow in a bucket!

  2. Bernie

    What are the voluntary standards? Can they be posted some where for everyone to see? That might be a great step to help farmers make the necessary steps to put those standards in place.

    CSC is based out of Ont, are there any plans to have a CSC in every province?

  3. nancy

    Michael – it was good to see you at the conference and loved all you have to say about responsibility and accountability and all. Sad to hear about those in the raw milk movement (the consumers) who don’t get it. Mark McAfee is all about setting up standards.

  4. Paul


    I completely agree with what you wrote. I would encourage you to make the standards open so that everyone can see them and improve them–like open source software.

    This also removes barriers between producers and the standards. Formal certification can still be for fee.


  5. Michael

    Cow Share Canada is a Federal organisation with a Federal charter. We are currently developing the Provincial structures.

    There are two things which are of concern. Most just want the standards without understanding the overall concept.

    That’s why we developed the Cow Share College. Because of the complexity of the subject matter and the lack of basic knowledge in respect to holistic farming it is not a matter of publishing guidelines on the Internet.

    Are people prepared to learn and take part in the process? If so Cow Share Canada will step up to the plate to give the needed guidance.

    If you just want to run with the wolves be prepared to be taken down one by one.

    I have seen too many operations creating the underground mentality of fear and hiding instead of standing up for what is right.

    Cow Share Canada provides the opportunity to speak with a united voice. I have to disappoint you if you think this is a money issue.

    If you think milking cows is just like a job then you missed the point completely.

    We will have more once the website is up you then will have a better idea what it is am talking about

    • nedlud

      Achtung baby.

      With the raw milk standards and procedures and expert testimonies (ad nauseum) you’re now going right down the same path as what was done with ‘organic certified’. What happened here in the U.S. with money players like Organic Valley and Horizon and MOSA and OCIA making the rules for farmers and eaters as aided and abetted by the even heavier handed bureaucrats in the government offices one, two and three notches above them. And ripping everyone below them off. Fear and manipulation. Intimidation. So it’s deja vu all over again.

      Can anybody s-p-e-l-l CODEX? (Duh, whaa dat?)

      Achtung baby.

      You’re ALL scared and you’re ALL stupid.

      And you have every right to be.

      Fascist dictatorship likes it that way.

      Have a nice day.


  6. a starting point is the standards set by Colorado /Oregon /California for dairies which produce raw milk for retail.
    In British Columbia, the provincial govt. could resolve the issue with the stroke of a pen, by adopting the model in Washington State
    one of the big lies put out by opponents of REAL MILK is that raw dairies will be unregulated. In fact, from Day One, I proposed to the Ministers of Health and Ag. that we were happy to meet whatever standards were set by the govt. If the acceptable level is 10,000 cfu for pasteurized milk on the retail store shelf, and our milk already comes in at less than that, then what’s the problem?
    Cow Share Canada is doing what the winemakers did when they voluntarily formed the Vintners Quality Assurance brand. The guy who started it is now BC’s minister of Agriculture = Ben Stewart. In the recent issue of Western Producer, he says that one of the factors in the success of BC’s wine industry was the elimination of a marketing board for grapes!

  7. Michael

    Nedlud that was mighty constructive.
    Thanks. In case you have not seen the Codex rule on raw milk check it

    • nedlud

      You got it Michael. 🙂

      Extortion is the number one ‘money generator’ in the world today. This is because we have so much force available to us through technology, a lot of groovy weapons and devices to go along with advanced and complicated theories of behavior and disease and so on. So people have lots to fear and lots to get excited about and there is plenty to promote and encourage violent tendencies; and the weaker among us, which are many, need lots of experts telling them what to do, to protect themselves from all of everything that is so confusing and scary.

      So the people practicing the great money generator (extortion) also use a vast vocabulary of scientific and legal terms. They invent new terms and new guidelines constantly. This is very impressive and kind of neat, if you like to steal and cheat and threaten and make yourself rich, while appearing, to as many fools as possible, to be good. But in reality, of course, it is bad, because it is criminal. Criminal in a way, that surpasses our laws because our laws actually condone this you see. It is a part of the rich fabric of our government rulership and control.

      You (meaning people like you) think you can protect yourself (and others) from it by going to college, and learning all that lingo. But you can’t. Instead, you become one with them, you become an extortionist yourself.

      Happens all the time.

  8. latte_girl


    I just wanted to take a minute to respond to your original comment. There were 2 separate issues that you brought up.

    The person who owns a cow and consumes the product themselves is very different than the person who owns a cow and sells, barters, or gives the product to a third party.

    Even if it is only a few bottles of milk, the latter person has entered into the social contract and is subject to the parameters set by law.

    The size of an operation has no bearing on its responsibilities in conducting business. If I own 1 restaurant, should the minimum food safety standards be different than if I owned 4 restaurants? Or 40 restaurants?

    If I sell cigarettes to a minor, doesn’t matter if I’m the corner grocer or Loblaws. The consequences are identical. Only if I’m the corner grocer (or the guy with one cow) the penalties will hurt me much more.

    I understand that a lot of people who own one cow want to “share the nutritional wealth”. Hell, it’s not like you’re going to get rich selling milk from one cow to your friends and neighbours. But the risks are huge.

    There are lots of studies that demonstrate people who live with a cow develop tolerance and immunity to certain milk borne illnesses that others will be sensitive to. So even if the cow owner never gets sick, anyone they give the milk to might get sick.

    I envy anyone who has the space (property), time, and commitment to own their own cow and have access to a product they can trust. But be practical too. Don’t be so generous you lose the farm.

    • Smy

      Latte girl wrote: “The person who owns a cow and consumes the product themselves is very different than the person who owns a cow and sells, barters, or gives the product to a third party. Even if it is only a few bottles of milk, the latter person has entered into the social contract and is subject to the parameters set by law.”

      That same thing can be said about any family kitchen where a cook serves food to anyone other than him/herself.

      Should you be required to pay for routine tests for pathogens in your kitchen? Should the government come in and check the temp on your water heater, refrigerator and oven?
      If the day they come there happens to be a fly on the wall, or tall grass outside the door, should they shut down your filthy operation in order to save your family from certain death?
      Would you wonder, after they scraped your drains and found pathogens, if the source of the germs was not these strangers traipsing from kitchen to kitchen in the first place?

      The point of Cow Shares was that these are private contracts – and like private kitchens, government should not have jurisdiction.

      I think Michael is creating confusion by using the term “cow share”.

  9. Bernie Bailey


    I see a repeat in Agriculture history here and hope you take my advice with a grain of salt as you know my story well.

    Your affords have grown beyond your self and you see the need for action in so many places but can not be all do all so it is time to build apon your achievements. I would suggest putting in place dedicated partners to head into the fires that burn and bring them under control as the cow share units need to create and follow these guides and they need to talk to some one with cow share knowledge of the terms and conditions .

    All parties involved in this cause should understand that you can not be every were and I know from personal experience it will be hard to let go and allow others to help you in these endeavors as you have carried the ball for so long who can you depend to stay the coarse.

    good luck

    Bernie Bailey.

  10. Thanks for the CODEx. I had seen it before. These can be modified if need be as part of the guidelines and voluntary standard. Understand that not all will like a voluntary training concept or want to participate. Also, these standards should be a silver, gold, platinum type of good, better and best– so everyone who wants to play can and have an opportunity to improve to the highest practice. Folks can take the training Michael or anyone does and decide if they want to go further and qualify for the certification that may benefit their business. You do not need government permission to hold a class or need the state to approve the plan–or any or whole of any organization to proceed. If another group thinks they can do it better, all the better, and it drives competition and the industry quality much quicker. (That will happen as with USDA certifiers) The free marketplace will determine which way they want to go if any and who has the best program. This has not much to do with the state regulatory enforcement or whether fresh milk is “illegal” or not in a province. There are several layers of legal protection and security afforded by a group with the proper mix of expertise to defend false or unreasonable claims.

    Voluntary, private industry standards setting bodies (formal and informal) are as old as industry itself and Gordon is right–there are good models to work from. The development process is the same for all industries and products. There are existing standards already, each dairy has their own standards they are probably proud of–but they probably know they can improve a lot. I think all Michael is saying he is dissappointed that all won’t unite– but that is to be expected– because there are at least three major viewpoints on this and other issues about raw milk and a consensus agreement will never come about because some people are just not interested or they do not understand how this can work or they think a group is trying to control the whole thing. Much of this is self-monitoring and self-checking–all voluntary. So as a non-dairy creamer on the outside of the pail looking in, I don’t see what the problem is–maybe I am missing something. Like I said, standards already exist– no standards, CA type standard, WA or CO or the standard of the individual dairyman. All standardization does is make it a better education and better end product with almost zero risk of illnesses.

  11. Tim Wightman

    Greetings from down south…
    To think that milking one or two cows in a bucket in the back yard is safer that a forty or fifty cow herd is simply re-inforcing what Micheal is saying.
    All cows and milk are susceptable to contamination on grass or a balanced diet, and the fact that given there are very few herds that are like Michaels(read closed) and have the history of understanding how to care for milk cows.
    Understanding the principals of dairy cows and soil, not soley focusing on process is the only way to insure safe healthy milk.
    We in the states who are concerned about these issues are currently looking at national standards for raw milk production and possible programs to inforce them, inforcement of course will be married with education.
    But everyone has had access to the Raw Milk Production Handbook, but it is becoming clear that most have not read it given the issues we have had in the last 11 months across the U.S..
    As Michael says freedom is not free, and rights has significant responsibilities.
    From my perspective anyone who is rushing in on the success of Micheals 16 year struggle and complaining about his wish to see it carried forward in it proper manner has some serious apologies to relay to his family and those who stood by him.
    His struggle was not won lightly and I can see the pain in his eyes which I have lived with from the very same issues.
    To disrespect this gift Michael and his family has given you is reason for very serious interspection of where your heart really is and how dedicated you are to change our society.
    Real change, not just income opportunity and a race to the floor on price and convenince.
    What Michael won has nothing to do about raw milk, but it was won on open and honest dedication to detail and natural principals of which we depend on for life and liberty.
    Understanding that is less than this, does not deserve the benefits of the liberty or life it gives.
    Tim Wightman

  12. Noriko

    I hope those who criticize CSC being seemingly dictating the situation would come up with a safer, more concise alternative to build a better system…

    Actually, Colorado has a very concise page for the raw milk production standards. Thanks Gordon!

    I bet everyone who wish to think of raw milk would like to have a brief look. If that’s what they’ve already been doing, then probably they are at the very good starting point and they may be an instructor and host a cowshare college.

    If that’s something they haven’t done before, then, that’s a good news, because they are the people who will have the most benefit from the said college….

  13. latte_girl

    The problem with a totally “free” marketplace is that you have to assume everyone will conduct themselves ethically. That is just not the case.

    Since this site is about milk, lets talk about milk: breast milk. We all know “breast is best”, but what if there is some physical reason that you can not breast feed? Or your baby has a congenital allergy to breast milk? Then as a parent, you have to rely on formula.

    In 2008, the Canadian government discovered and intervened when formula producers were illegally adding melamine to the formula. Melamine gave the illusion of a higher protein content. Melamine is toxic. It can cause cancer, reproductive damage, and even death.

    That’s the ethics of some people: preying on helpless, innocent babies.

    Even the most educated label-reading parent would have been deceived. It’s not like the companies were listing melamine in the product contents.

    Without the government having established, and then maintaining regulatory standards, who knows how far the tragedy would have spread?

    So before we can have voluntary levels of standard, there must be a minimum standard. And let’s be honest, the government is in the best position to establish and maintain a minimum standard.

    That is why Michael’s work is so important. For the government to open their mind and legalize raw milk, someone has to demonstrate how it can be done safely. The raw milk industry is not like a giant food corporation that can invest in unlimited testing to prove that their new “artificial colour” is safe.

    The naive faction of raw milk supporters are those who do not recognize the important role the government should play. If no regulations exist, some unethical person will try to profit at the expense of others.

    Complete deregulation; food freedom? Well that’s literally throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    • This is very true– govt should protect traditional foods and work with the industry to help them–which they do to some extent. Govt role is to mediate and promote not hinder. Cooperation and education is key. Cooperation and building relationships is important. Unfortunately that too often not the case. Govt should be assisting. The milk industry is a corrupt industry as with many of them–and part of that is due to the corruption within the govt and their ignorance. But the unregulated free market will always be there– the grey market– but they cannot be too visible if some choose to go this way.

  14. Raca Macuait

    Michael said: “If we demand the fundamental right to be free of Government interference than we have a moral obligation to act with the highest standards of utmost respect and responsibility.”

    It is noble to think that producers could adhere to this philosphy, but it is exactly the reason why the dairy industry (either the raw or pasteurized versions) should never be unregulated. Corruption is a function of human nature, irregardless of the product being peddled. Sure, there may be a few that would voluntarily uphold the highest standards, but these good folks would be the “outliers” in the bell-curve of humanity. Anyone who thinks otherwise has their head in the clouds.

    I think it’s great that Michael is not blindly supporting every raw milk distributor trying to make a quick buck. Having at least some minimum standards is a great start. But unless those standards are enforceable, you’re always going to have to worry about most of that bell-curve…

  15. Bernie Bailey

    If this is about your rights and health of your family as you believe then you must stand with the farmer that a dozen police officers arrested and charged only to have the charges dropped as his battle in that arena is far from over. All of you would be facing the same persecution or worse by now if it were not for his tenacity.

    There is far grater powers at work that are helping your cause and that is the three big dairies that run the processing in this country. Over the last two decades the Milk Boards have gotten rid of the small farms and dairies in favor of big and their covenanted three but the big three do not want to pay the Canadian price for milk from the farmers so they import four billion dollars of powdered milk from god knows were to make Canadian cheese and the dairy farmers reaction is get rid of small farmers and encourage farmers to start their own dairies as the Milk Board has no were to sell the quota milk.

    The bureaucrats that actually run our country are head strong to enter free trade deals with other counties the latest being Japan in their global effort to make it legal for the big three to import and the politicians are useless in any attempt to stop this as it is inevitable.

    So if you stay united ,do not splinter of in different directions you may just succeed as you really do have the dairy farmer that milked cows all their lives are coming to your side as the Milk Board knocks them down a few more times.

    Bernie Bailey

    • latte_girl


      I am very confused by this comment. It’s almost if your excitement ran over and you couldn’t type as fast as your thoughts.

      Can you lay out your thoughts in simpler terms?

  16. AJ

    Michael, it disgusts me that individuals would take so lightly what you fought so hard to achieve. However, I am not surprised. I worked on 3 different industrial sized dairy farms about 10 years ago, and I walked away vowing never to drink milk again because of the unethical practices I witnessed. Greed over-runs ethical concern for the consumer, and the industrialized process allows them to continue, based on the assumption that pasturization makes the product safe. If it is any consolation no paturization process can make the product from unethical production SAFE! And, the amount of people getting sich from pasturized milk is proof of this. It is such producers that make it such a struggle for conscientious producers such as yourself to flourish. I am grateful for milk producers such as yourself who produce your product with care and concern for the consumer in mind. For it is your very livelihood to do so.

    I don’t know the solution to this dilemma but the CDC is a good start. You have won such a milestone accievement at the start of this year, now people need to come alongside to help you manage it.

    Please take care, but, please don’t give into discouragement.

  17. AJ

    Correction, I hope that people understand that I ment to say CSC instead of CDC…

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