Court rules against raw milk farmer

From legal affairs reporter Tracey Tyler, in The Toronto Star:

The Ontario Court of Justice has ruled against raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt, seen here holding up a glass of his milk prior to Wednesday's ruling. TRACEY TYLER/TORONTO STAR

“DURHAM, ONT.—Lola and the girls ambled close to the barn Wednesday, a bit prematurely.

Their keeper, Michael Schmidt, has always vowed to fight until the cows come home for the right to get raw milk into his customers’ hands.

But it looks like his battle will take longer than he expected.

At his farm in Grey County, a few kilometres outside town, Schmidt got a call late Wednesday afternoon from his lawyer, informing him he’d been convicted of 15 provincial offences relating to the sale of unpasteurized milk and could potentially face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

“I can’t believe it,” he said. A peacock lounged on the roof of a shed and clothing hung on the line as Schmidt studied the 77-page decision.

The Ontario Court of Justice dismissed every one of his arguments that distributing and purchasing raw milk was a well-informed consumer’s constitutional right. He was acquitted Wednesday of three charges, but could be fined $5,000 for each day he continues to distribute his milk.

There will, he says, be an appeal. “The whole thing is a big loss, but we’re going to keep going.”

The province’s successful appeal of a Jan. 21 ruling in Schmidt’s favour was the latest chapter in the farmer’s four-year battle to keep milk flowing from his raw milk operation, which he described as a fight for “food freedom.”

Justice Peter Tetley’s decision, he predicted, “will stimulate incredible resistance” to government food controls, including the legislation he was found guilty of violating — Health Protection and Promotion Act provisions that prohibit distributing and selling milk that has not been heat-treated to kill bacteria such as salmonella and E.coli.

Raw milk advocates maintain pasteurization destroys beneficial enzymes, but authorities including the World Health Organization say the loss is minimal and the benefits of heat-treating outweigh the risks of drinking it raw.

“The bottom line is, he’s saying people don’t have the right to drink milk from their own cows,” Schmidt said….”

Read it all in the Toronto Star.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Court rules against raw milk farmer

  1. What I see here is the need for a new lawyer. This should be an open and shut case. Show me where the massive illnesses are in the States that sell raw milk or in any of the European countries. The facts have clearly not been presented. Time for new legal blood, that is perhaps the message that is being sent to Mr Schmidt. Is Eddie Greenspan available, he LOVES the public attention! We are sick of being sick with pasteurized milk and being bullied by the Milk Marketing Board.

    • thebovine

      I wouldn’t criticize Michael’s legal representation over this loss. I think it’s great that he’s got the backing of the Canadian Constitution Foundation and their litigation director Karen Selick as his lawyer. These are folks whose support is based on philosophical principles, not just on the money they’d earn in court. I like to think that the fight is not yet over yet, and look forward to these crucial rights issues being contested again in a higher court of law.

      In the first round of this fight, Michael chose eventually to represent himself in court because the high-profile lawyer he started out with was costing ridiculous amounts of money, and it was becoming a choice between “death” by conviction in court, or “death” by lawyers’ fees. Either way, the farm would likely have been history by now, if he’d gone that route.

      • nedlud

        Outstanding job of covering this terrible twisting of fate, the Bovine. And great sympathy and support to Michael Schmidt and to all others.

        Do not EVER forget, ALL the family farms and farms that have been lost (DESTROYED) in the decades and decades and decades since the ‘settling’ of the Americas (ie., since the forced removal and herding of the indigenous people, their GENOCIDE).

        Had there only been family farms, a few local trade and commerce centers (small towns, minor cities) and the INDIANS, and NO LAWYERS OR POLITICIANS, we might just
        have all learned to get along.

        Western civilization and, techno-fascism, will carry on and live in INFAMY.

        Great sadness and horror blanket the land, where there could have been peace and harmony.

        Eventually the horror will end, because the people, the free people will all be gone.

        ‘First, they came for the Indians, but I was not an Indian.’

        nedlud

  2. thebovine

    This is the most in-depth reportage we’ve yet seen this time around, on Michael Schmidt and the raw milk issue. Congratulations to the Star and to Tracey, for taking the time to properly research the story. One error of fact, however is that the first court date was actually back in 1994.

  3. Yes, you are correct. Criticizing Mr. Schmidt’s legal council is unfair. I sometimes let my heart rule my head. All I see is total frustration and confusion as to why the courts refuse to see the scientific facts regarding the health benefits of raw milk vs. pasteurized milk. I strongly believe that the informed consumer should have the right to choose. This is a “David and Goliath” fight and I must remember that “David” won in the end. I just feel that things are going far too slowly but that is no way the fault of Ms. Selick. She is dealing with a government that is stuck in the dark ages regarding what is healthy and what is not. Just read that smoking killed 45,000 in Canada last year alone. Made me wonder where the stats are on the number of people killed last year as a result of drinking raw milk are, because if there were even a few, THOSE numbers would be front page news! Can’t publish a number that does not exist. Can you feel my frustration?

  4. Pingback: Got ‘Underdeveloped’ Milk? – Part I - The Bean Tree

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