“Raw milk activist Gordon Watson has filed a civil lawsuit against the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health authorities and their officers, alleging they exceeded their authority by acting to shut down the Home on the Range dairy in Chilliwack.
“The main thing is to make civil servants accountable,” said Watson, a founder of the dairy now operating as Our Cows.
He alleges in the suit filed this week that the health authorities acted against the dairy with no evidence that it was a threat to public health, destroyed his property (the milk) and acted beyond their authority.
Watson maintains that because the products of the dairy are not offered for sale to the public, public health statutes do not apply.
The raw milk dairy is a cooperative farm that produces unpasteurized milk and dairy products for the families that own shares in the cow herd.
It is legal in B.C. for farmers to produce raw milk for their own use. Watson argues that cow-share members are the owners of the herd and can legally use the products.
No statement of defence has yet been filed, but a Fraser Health spokesman said in an interview Thursday that a health authority inspection of the farm in 2008 found raw milk was being packaged for distribution.
Roy Thorpe-Dorward said Fraser Health served the dairy’s operators with a cease-and-desist order, ordering them to stop producing and distributing raw milk products and alleging the operators were violating health hazards regulations of the provincial health act.
Fraser Health later obtained an injunction from the B.C. Supreme Court to enforce the order.
In granting the injunction, Justice Miriam Gropper said the dairy breached the Public Health Act and that the law prohibits anyone from willingly creating a health hazard.
Watson and interim dairy manager Michael Schmidt have been charged with contempt of court for their role in continuing operations at the dairy. A trial is scheduled for April 2012….”