Here’s our second batch of letters from readers of the Bovine to their elected officials, advocating for a sane raw milk solution for Ontario. Thanks to everyone who’s sent us a copy of their letter. I’m sure there are lots more people writing to politicians about raw milk who don’t take the time to send a copy to the Bovine, but we ask that you do so because that way your letter can help inspire others to write as well, and they might get ideas on what to say from reading what you said! As before, these will be archived on the “Letters” page of The Bovine blog.
October 20th 2011
HRH The Prince of Wales
Clarence House, London
Great Britain, SW1A 1BA
Your Royal Highness The Prince of Wales,
I write this message to Your Royal Highness from Vancouver, British Columbia in the interest of asking assistance in an urgent matter regarding small-scale raw dairy farms across Canada. Our provincial governments have recently made this practice illegal and my own dairy farmer, Michael Schmidt, is presently in the twentieth day of his hunger strike to bring justice to our cause. Mr. Schmidt’s earlier acquittal on charges related to producing and distributing raw milk were recently overturned and he faces enormous fines and seizure of his family farm. Canadians like myself who wish to access raw milk have heretofore bought shares in cows in order to obtain it from local farmers. Our government is now putting an end to the practice and his hunger strike is a last resort. He has said he “is willing to die if it’s necessary”.
I was greatly inspired by your May 2011 speech at the Future for Food Conference, Georgetown University, Washington DC. I am writing this letter to you at this time in the interest of appealing to your good judgment regarding sustainable farming and because of your previous support of raw milk and organic family farms. Canadians are on the verge of losing their right to fresh milk. I am certain that any words you might offer in support of this sustainable agricultural practice in Canada would have enormous import at this turning point in our history. Michael Schmidt may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrea Horwath – Leader of the New Democratic Party
Hamilton Centre constituency,
200 Hughson Street South,
Hamilton, Ontario L8N 2A1
Choice is something that is inherent in our national identity.
People come to this country from all around the world because Canada is a place of liberty, and these are the values we hold most dear.
Yet, despite this, the raw-milk farmer, Michael Schmidt, has been fighting since 1994 for the right of men, women and children in Canada to be able to make the simplest and most important of all choices – what they eat.
Over the last 17 years he has made every effort to engage the authorities in a constructive dialogue about the issue of non-pasteurized milk in Ontario and Canada. In return his farm has been raided by armed officers, his family has been terrorized and he has been dragged through the courts – first being acquitted and then being found guilty.
The closest this issue came to being resolved was in 2006, when Bill Murdoch MPP proposed a motion to set up an all-party task force to investigate and lay out the real facts around raw milk consumption. Every NDP member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament voted against this motion, killing it stone dead.
Today, Michael Schmidt is on hunger strike because he, and farmers like him around the country are scared. They are scared that people with guns who claim to be acting in the best interests of the public will come and snatch their livelihoods. They are scared that they will be tried for the “crime” of believing that informed consumers and citizens in our free country should be able to choose what they eat and drink.
I respectfully call on you, Andrea Horvath, to examine whether you believe the NDP should continue to support a government position that takes away the most fundamental of all our rights – that to choose what we eat. And I invite you to make contact with Michael and to publicly show your support for his fight.
Thank you for your consideration.
Some background on why some people are writing to Andrea as well, on this issue:
In 2006 a motion was put forth to set up a working party at Queens Park to investigate the real facts around raw milk. The NDP killed that motion.
Let them look to the past, but let them also look to the future; let them look to the land of their ancestors, but let them look also to the land of their children. –Wilfred Laurier
Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves. –-Abraham Lincoln
October 20, 2011
Dear Premier McGuinty,
I urge you to meet with Michael Schmidt in person as soon as possible to start a dialog on legalizing raw milk.
Farmers like Michael Schmidt have fed our country in the past, are declining in number at the present, and must be supported in order to continue into the future of Canada. They have fed, and continue to feed us and our children. Such farmers must not go the way of industrialized agriculture. Small farms, such as Glencolton practice sustainable farming practices and provide nutritious and natural food products. It is a crime to destroy such farms, as they are a model for the future. We need to look to our land and how we use it, for our children … our future.
I have been serving raw milk to my family for many years. My children have grown up on raw milk, and are healthy and strong. My husband had raw milk when he was growing up. I did not, and had trouble digesting pasteurized milk that I was forced to drink. I no longer suffer from that bloated feeling that I did as a child. Please read the accounts of people who have been restored to good health with access to raw milk, including accounts of babies and young children.
Studies have clearly shown that raw milk is more nutritious than pasteurized milk. In fact, the expert witness from Guelph University, for the crown, in Michael’s first trial, spoke of adding supplementary vitamins to pasteurized dairy products, which, ironically is not needed to do if the product is not pasteurized.
Raw milk is safe. In all the years of the operation of Glencolton Farms not one person has
become sick. Review the statistics in Europe where raw milk is legal, and children can buy it in schools or from vending machines. Review the statistics from legal operations in the United States, California for example. They have stellar records of safety. Clearly the issue is not about safety, not at all. To speak of raw milk being unsafe is false reporting.
Agricultural Boards, such as the Wheat Board have been dismantled. Large industries in both the United States and Canada have collapsed or are struggling . We are entering a new time. We need to respond with foresight. We need to pull our heads out of the sand, the milk marketing board included. The future of Canadian farmers and consumers depend upon it. We need to protect our farmers, and permit them to set up Farm share programs. We need to support farmers who farm with integrity and truly serve the people and the land. We need to support farmers who do not sacrifice the environment, quality farming practices, good nutrition, for profit and control.
Mr. McGuinty, you are our democratically chosen leader. We did not buy you. We
democratically voted for you. We believe in you to work for our freedoms, your freedom, and your children’s freedom. We trust you will not work against this desire, and will meet with Michael Schmidt to discuss legalizing raw milk, while he can still talk with you. As you know he is on a hunger strike, and it is of utmost importance to talk with him as soon as possible.
We all deserve our freedom to choose nutritious foods for ourselves and our families. Together we can do it. Together we can meet today and the future with hope and good will.
Shirley Ann Wood
Oct 20, 2011
Dear Toby Barrett, MPP Haldimand Norfolk Brant:
I, the undersigned, respectfully ask that you do everything in your power to ensure that pressure is brought to bear on the provincial and federal governments to help end the harassment of dairy farmer Michael Schmidt. In terms of the legality, he has done no different than what many dairying Mennonite families in Ontario have done in limited family-and-friend contexts, for generations. Michael has gone on a hunger strike to protest the resumption of harassment and threat to his ethical livelihood. This needless punishment should end and discussion begin.
Please see attached a copy of the letter he delivered on October 18th to Premier Dalton McGuinty. As a member of Michael Schmidt’s Cowshare programme, we should have the right to go to Michael’s farm and get milk from a cow, which we own a part of, without the government telling us that we can’t.
A cowshare is by design not intended for commerical marketing of raw milk. It’s purpose is to satisfy the requests for raw milk products for its limited membership. Advertising and promotion are not needed by this model of direct farmer-consumer community of caring and sharing.
No one gets rich in terms of money; but here farmer and consumer try to work at establishing a fair partnership and understanding with each other. With improvements of technology and science, the regulatory system ought to make allowance for modern hygienic improvements, and not needlessly obstruct the way of sharing fresh farm-product, such as made possible via ‘cowsharing’.
I hope you will raise the issue with your caucus and with the government. Do our families not have a continuing right to liberty and choice? Being raised on a dairy farm family and consuming raw milk, I would like to continue off the farm as a town-dweller in my beliefs and values which include the right to choose raw (enzyme-rich) wholesome milk.
I think the decent thing would be for Mr McGuinty to sit down with Mr Schmidt and look at resolving the problem which the Premier has so far ignored.
PS – Did you know that the Queen drinks raw milk?
Dear Mr. McGuinty
Your statement “In regards to Mr. Schmidt’s hunger strike, “we would never want anyone to put their health and/or safety at risk” holds no water with anyone that is listenting. Michael Schmidt’s health is at risk, and you are the only one that can do something about it, and you choose not to. At the same time you allow people to smoke cigarettes, even in the company of children, knowing full well that their are high risks associated with it. You have not yet shut down any fast food locations which are causing many cases of obesity and other health detriments. Your stores are full of processed foods, and cancer is rampant. Health is not your priority, and it shows. Your denial to speak with Mr. Schmidt confirms it is not about health. Not his health, or the health of other Canadians. In not so many years from now, when you are ailing, where will you turn for healing? Processed foods? Pills? Radiation? It will be at that time that you lie awake at night wishing you had done things differently. But then it will be too late. Why not Act now? A little dialogue is all he is asking.
From “Level Headed” (posted as a comment):
Thank you Jon. Hhre’s one I sent today to Premier McGuinty. I tried to keep it short and concise, and I built on yours with a note about my personal experiences:
Premier McGuinty, I respectfully ask you to meet with Michael Schmidt as soon as possible and engage a dialogue on the issues of the right of Canadian citizens to decide what food they eat. Michael is on the 19th day of his hunger strike today. This is a very urgent matter. I thank you for your consideration.
P.S. — My dependency on OHIP services has reduced significantly since drinking Mr. Schmidt’s raw milk for 2 years now. I suffered from Ulcerative Colitis (inflammation of the bowels) for over 10 years, it was diagnosed by my MD Gastroenterologist in Grade 13/OAC, and I had multiple scopes done (big money on the OHIP card I’m sure). Pharma drugs costed a lot and only partially helped, but raw milk got me fixed up and after 2 years I’m healthier than ever!
Cronic pain motivates a person to find a solution, and it took me years of suffering before I finally learned about the advantages of healthy raw milk. I have no doubt my UC was healed in large part because of Mr. Schmidt’s raw milk.
This is the email we’ve just sent Mr. McGuinty:
Mr. McGuinty, we are 4th generation dairy farmers. Every single day we drink raw milk – parents and children alike (2 biological, 4 adopted – none of the four biologically related to us or to each other). I mention the latter to ensure you realize that “tolerance” to raw milk is not genetic.
I have been drinking raw milk for 28 years, beginning at age 24 (having never had raw milk previously) to my current age of 52. My husband is 57 years old and has drunk raw milk since infancy. His brother is 62 and he, too, has drunk raw milk since infancy. His sisters are 65 and 52 respectively, and have drunk raw milk since infancy. His mother is 87 and has drunk raw milk since infancy. His father died at the age of 76, of multiple sclerosis, unrelated to drinking raw milk. Virtually every single dairy farming family we know drinks raw milk and has for generations.
Raw milk is not dangerous! Numerous studies have indicated it is actually beneficial to health, and milk which is not homogenized even more so. Younger folk likely don’t realize that milk always had a layer of cream which settled on the top . Homogenization breaks up the fat into very small particles. The tiny globules of fat which result from this process allows the harmful enzyme, xanthine oxidase, to get into the body through the intestinal walls. This enzyme can damage artery walls by causing lesions to occur.
All milk fat, excluding human milk, has this enzyme. It is not normally a problem as the fat globules which contain the enzyme are too large to pass through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream. In milk which is not homogenized, the enzyme passes through the body without causing damage. This is not the case, however, after the homogenization process, the enzyme passes directly through the intestine into the bloodstream, where it’s circulated, causing damage to the arteries.
The truth is, the issue of pasteurization and homogenization have more to do with politics and industry control than they do with health. As quota holders with the Milk Marketing Board, we well know how politically and market driven this issue is.
Mr. McGuinty, meet with Mr. Schmidt, the dairy farmer who is, even now, on a hunger strike in order to bring attention to the travesty of justice against his person and his cow share program. Mr. Schmidt sold shares in his cows to people who want to drink raw milk, people who are probably much more health conscious than the vast majority of Ontarians who sit on their couches drinking sugar laden sodas, sodas which are, indeed, harmful to health.
It’s time for the dialogue to be opened. It’s time for unbiased and open discussion to occur. And it’s time for Mr. Schmidt to be given relief from what amounts to nothing more than persecution by the government, and moreso, persecution by the Milk Marketing Board which is primarily interested in protecting its market than ensuring health. Protecting the Board’s interests could still be accomplished through sales regulations, if we must begin with baby steps, rather than through pasteurization regulations.
Please don’t respond based upon preconceived notions, notions which you may hold primarily due to misinformation, notions which have long been entrenched in the public’s collective psyche, but which are inherently false.
Thank you for your consideration,