“How strange, that as Ottawa announced last week new, large and graphic tobacco warning labels, proponents of raw milk were still fighting even to get their product on the market.
To be treated like tobacco would be a step up.
Our prohibition on the distribution of raw milk may be well-intentioned, but the enforcement of that prohibition seems increasingly unfair and unjust.
What’s more, our laws are rather perplexing. There’s nothing prohibiting a farmer from consuming the raw milk from one of his cows, or even serving it to his children.
Yet, that farmer is forbidden by law from selling raw milk to a consenting adult with no other means of procuring the product. Who is the victim in that equation?
Clearly, there must be a victim, because distributors of raw milk have certainly been treated as though they are dangerous criminals.
For example, in a 2006 raid on the farm of Ontario raw milk crusader Michael Schmidt, no fewer than two dozen armed officers were involved. Not only was the contraband product seized, but also computers, files and other equipment.
Yet, one year ago, some vindication for Schmidt: he was acquitted of 19 charges.
What’s significant about the acquittal is that Schmidt was quite clear about what he was doing. He wasn’t selling milk per se, but rather selling a “portion” of a cow. Schmidt’s “cow-share” operation allowed people to be joint owners of a dairy cow.
Provincial officials are undeterred, however, and have appealed that verdict. So Schmidt’s persecution will continue for now, at taxpayers’ expense, all in the name of “protecting” those members of his cow-share program, which includes some top Toronto chefs.
It’s not just Ontario where these cow-share operations are frowned upon.
In B.C., a long-targeted Chilliwack cow-share is trying a new end-run around provincial regulations. Last week, it was reported that the farm was selling raw milk products as “cosmetics,” including “bathing milk” and “raw milk skin lotion.”
Here in Alberta, a cow-share west of Edmonton received a cease-and-desist order from Alberta Health Services in November. The owners of the farm were ordered to hand over “contracts, records, contact information and other relevant information” on others involved with the operation.
Must we really go to such an extent to protect people from themselves? If people choose to drink raw milk, that is their choice. Perhaps the state’s only role is to make sure that decision is an informed one.
In one sense, it mostly is. Those purchasing raw milk are under no illusions about what they are obtaining….”