“Ignoring Ontario’s cow share ruling will endanger future access to raw milk in Canada” — farmer Michael Schmidt

Michael Schmidt shares some thoughts on the state of raw milk in Canada:

Michael Schmidt with host during a recent visit to Wisconsin, with a glass of raw milk.

Things have drastically changed in Ontario since January last year. As soon as the celebration of the historical cow share ruling by Paul Kowarsky was over, many farmers who had been silently waiting on the sidelines jumped at the “golden opportunity to milk the opportunity”.

The market is there and is expanding at a frightening pace. There have been countless requests by people searching for raw milk:

There are hundreds of reasons why the demand for raw milk keeps increasing across North America.

So far, only Ontario has come down with a court ruling that clearly defines the right to opt out of the protection of the State. This was great news for all kinds of “freedom fighters”.

Lately, I have been getting more and more reports of raw milk operations springing up across Ontario. These are not necessarily cow share operations defined as “legal” by Justice Paul Kowarsky but, rather, quasi cow-share operations with similar contracts or without contracts.

Another interesting observation is the emergence of raw milk dealers peddling milk into city centers across Ontario establishing their territory and expanding their markets.

Cow Share Canada was founded out of a deep concern that many will seize the opportunity to fill the growing demand for raw milk at all costs without understanding the responsibility involved and without having the skills and basic knowledge needed to produce a safe product while conforming to the Kowarsky ruling.

The demand comes from the consumers who want to obtain raw milk wherever, whenever, without making the critical inquiries about where the milk is coming from and how it is produced, so that they may make the informed decisions essential to their health.

Unfortunately my name is sometimes used without my knowledge or approval and, based on that, people trustingly and willingly enter into quasi cow share arrangements that lack the necessary safeguards.

We are dealing with a very volatile situation in which the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food are monitoring the current situation very carefully. In one of my discussions with the Government lead investigator before the court ruling, he mentioned that in fact they currently have dairy farms under observation.

We are blindsiding ourselves to assume that they do not know who is who in the raw milk trade. It is not unlikely that they are more than ready to embark on more raids at any time, especially if the appeal of the court ruling on April 11, 2011 in Newmarket does not go our way.

As things stand now, potentially they could find enough evidence to shut down farms and charge “dealers”, an experience I do not wish on anyone.

Cow Share Canada is an attempt to demonstrate concern and responsibility, and to show the deep respect that the courageous ruling by Justice Kowarsky deserves.

With sadness and resignation, I realize that many do not look beyond, do not understand, that abusing our current ‘freedom’ can only lead to a crackdown by the authorities. It is more than clear that the next round of attacks on raw milk will have as its ultimate goal to reinstate the total control once again through hardship and fear amongst farmers.

I question why we are not able to act with wisdom and foresight. Why can we not act responsibly in order to encourage and nurture, within the governing body, a support group willing to look at the legalization of raw milk?

Cow Share Canada is just an attempt to bridge the governments’ concerns around food safety with the voluntary establishment of raw milk standards.

Whatever the seemingly obsession with liberty is we are fooling ourselves thinking that we have and will achieve what we want by demanding freedom without demonstrating responsibility.

I believe only if we are able to demonstrate responsibility and due diligence, we will be able to initiate and participate in change beyond cow-sharing.

Freedom comes with responsibility.

We want it all. Now.

Are we dreaming of a Libyan raw milk uprising? And, if so, why?

Why not change from within??

Just a question . . . I could be wrong.

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13 Comments

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13 responses to ““Ignoring Ontario’s cow share ruling will endanger future access to raw milk in Canada” — farmer Michael Schmidt

  1. Gordon S Watson

    Michael : you ask “I question why we are not able to act with wisdom and foresight.” = because it’s human nature to be self-centred. You are one of the rare exceptions – a mature individual, who thinks big, then nobly sacrifices your own immediate gratification for the long-term reward.
    As contrasted to the guy who comments on this site, braying that he’ll deal with the govt. thugs when they come around to his place. That type is ignorant of history … just a child in understanding geo-politics. In fact, the govt. meatheads in uniform love that type … gives them a chance to crack a few skulls to allieviate the boredom.
    In politics, one makes friends and one makes enemies … it just comes with the territory. I took a break there for a while, after being told to ‘quit making so much commotion’, and to “quit blabbing about it’ … by those who think they keep doing what they’re doing, hiding out. But those who revile you lately, won’t hesitate to take advantage of the benefits, when your pioneering efforts succeed.
    as of last Saturday, with the selection of Christy Clark as leader of the British Columbia Liberal party, BC is now in the forefront of the Campaign for REAL MILK. Regardless of her policies ( or lack thereof!) on other issues, she is very definitely on our side. She will bring about the legalization of REAL MILK here. Being seen as a ‘peace maker’ and a ‘negotiator’ is what gives politicians prestige.

  2. Karen Selick

    The date for arguing the appeal is April 13, not April 11. I don’t expect that we will receive the ruling that day. It could be several weeks or months after that date before we know how the appeal turns out.

  3. Michael schmidt

    Thanks Karen for the correction. I assume also it will take a while for the judge to come to a decision.
    Thanks also Gordon for your comments.
    What is interesting that some like you and Karen do not have to use an anonymous name to comment.
    One always knows who is commenting.
    The culture of anymosity is a strange one and taints the debate.
    If you have nothing to hide, nothing to fear, then nothing is better than the truth.

  4. miguel

    “Why not change from within??”

    How can we hope to change a system from within which is created by large corporations to maintain control over the rest of us?
    When we wanted to give birth to our children at home,there was talk among the local medical professionals that it should be illegal to give birth at home.Did we meet with them and try to convince them that we were competent to handle a home birth?We did discuss it, with little change in their opinion.What really changed things was that lots of people just went ahead and had home births.

    When we wanted to home school our children,did we seek the approval of the local school district?No,it would have taken too long to get their approval ,so we went ahead without it.In retrospect the local school board members do agree that home schooling can be better for some children than government schools.

    For those people who want access to real food and are willing to educate themselves about how it is produced,they should not have to wait until we can get approval from the authorities.People must be willing to take responsibility for their actions.They may have to search long and hard for the real thing when it comes to food.Yes,not everyone will succeed in finding good quality milk.Not everyone had a successful home birth or home school experience,but it is the people that went ahead anyway without waiting for official approval that actually changed officials minds.It was not those who worked within the system for change.Talking to the officials,one person to another is a good idea,but without the people behind you there is no possibility of an official change of policy.

    Our biggest obstacle is that we all have been taught(in government schools) that “it is all about the money”.Rudolf Steiner said that we need to learn that we are not working for money.We need to be working for a society where people care about each other .

    • Michael schmidt

      Miquel
      you might know the whole story. It goes back 15 years with moments of civil disobedience, years of open defiance and at the end a judge understanding the issue.
      What I am talking about is the fact that now some are abusing this situation without recognizing that in fact the judge handed us the opportunity fir change from within.
      You are absolutely right about the money issue.
      Currently this drive behind the rawmilk distribution appears to be a welcoming money maker for some at least.
      We always talk about the abuse of Fovernment power and at the same time there are some abusing the opportunity for change by ignorance.

  5. thebovine

    Good points Miguel!

  6. thebovine

    Back in the 1980s we had home births with midwives, largely outside the provincial medical system. OHIP didn’t pay for it, and neither did they regulate it. Now, nearly 30 years later, there are midwifery programs at major universities. Midwifery is a recognized specialty within the medical system, and midwives need to have official qualifications. But for the most part they probably practice in hospitals. I somehow doubt home births are any more popular than they were in the 80s but perhaps the quality of hospital births has improved in the meanwhile. However, the wife of the son of my friend recently had a child in the hospital, where a “natural” birth was regarded as being a vaginal birth as opposed to a C-section. Never mind whether or not epidural anaesthics were use.

    Another example from the 80s where working with the system did yield some positive results, was the campaign by people I knew to get the government to include a conscientious objection option in the legislation that was being prepared to require the vaccination of all schoolchildren. They did get the exemption, although it doubtful if most parents even realize that it’s an option. Is the school or their doctor going to tell them about it?

  7. I sell family milk cows and as such thought I would be tuned in if there were a surge in ‘quasi’ raw milk sharing operations in Ontario. I have not seen or heard anything. The same people who always sold milk off the farm are still doing it. I don’t but thats my business. I have been in contact with a few who have taken a CSC course who are starting but not a surge as you put it. Those who want to ‘come out’ will probably write up contracts similar to CSC or even join CSC but those who just sell a bit of milk on the side will probably stay hidden and I don’t blame them.

    “raw milk dealers peddling milk into city centers across Ontario establishing their territory and expanding their markets.”

    I have heard of this but what I hear and see is people who own a legitimate share with either Glencolton or another CSC herd in eastern On. are buying much more milk than 1 share entitles them to so they can deal the milk in town….soooooooooo

    Charlotte VanGenechten
    Charlotte’s Web Farm
    (No anonymity on my part)

  8. thebovine

    @Charlotte: I’m sure goings on in the underground markets are not an easy thing to get a fix on at the best of times!

  9. RICHARD BARRETT

    Michael, thanks for giving us direction and wisdom. I say Amen to all you have ever said and shown by your spirit. Great men have experienced pain and loneliness. The bull attack, jail re: aquifer, and the first raid is just a little that I know about. Keep leading!

  10. Pingback: Michael Schmidt raw milk stories over the past month on the Bovine | The Bovine

  11. Kurtis

    “I have heard of this but what I hear and see is people who own a legitimate share with either Glencolton or another CSC herd in eastern On. are buying much more milk than 1 share entitles them to so they can deal the milk in town….soooooooooo”

    This is where the the share managers/agisters are the ones who should be clamping down if this is happening. It will have a backlash on those who choose to run a credible operation because of those whose bottom line is the dollar.

    You can’t tell me they wouldn’t know and be able to figure it out if a person with a spouse is buying 30 containers a week.

  12. Allen Scantland

    I followed this story with interest for years now and the gaul of it. I find it atrocious that the gvt and it’s agents would draw this out for over 15 years against a citizen that is fighting for our freedom to choose our food. Basically, if you allow a corporation (or an individual) with solely a profit motive to produce our foods then you get a degradation of what sustains us, our food. From meat glues, to hormones and antibiotics to fatten animals, or to increase and speed up their production. We don’t have our freedom in Canada, we have gvt and marketing boards telling us what to eat and where we’ll get it, the mob never had it so good. When their system fails us with listeria and other pathogens in their processing plant very little blame is levied, wrists are slapped and business is as usual.

    I for one want to have food that I can trust and I want to have the right to choose where I get it, not some marketing board.

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