“Uniting or Dividing” — farmer Michael Schmidt on the occasion of one million visits to “The Bovine” raw milk blog

Michael interviews Michael Schmidt, reflecting on the occasion of one million visits to this blog.

In the vortex of raw milk controversy, things are not always as they seem to be.

M: One Million visits to the Bovine, is this a reason to celebrate?

Michael: Yes, this is remarkable and significant within the context of a new form of dialogue.

M: There are more discussions following many articles, very often with rather radical views and extreme verbiage. How much weight are you giving to these comments?

Michael: Depends. I do enjoy controversial debates because they activate  the thought process. They also force you to constantly reflect on your own position and choice of words.

Misunderstandings and intentionally negative loaded comments by Mr. anonymous camouflaged behind the freedom -of -expression -argument makes it more challenging to value these discussions as one should or would in a face to face discussion.

Censoring or editing has become very quickly another controversy but is in fact justified and responsible.

As a side remark in regards to “The Bovine”, people still think I run the Bovine, which I hope is clear by now that I don’t. But I support the intention of the blogger to have the liberty to establish house rules.

It goes in waves how certain people participate and sometimes occupy the discussion with a certain agenda. Often they disappear after a few months. Others are part of the discussion for a long time and provide very constructive view points.

Since there is no way to identify the person commenting, there is no question that we might have people invading the discussion as part of the  Government trying to confuse discussions and create divisions.

That’s why I encourage honesty and openness, it helps to understand where every one is coming from.

M: You are accused of not respecting other views and comments. You are also accused of attacking others who differ in their opinion.

How much blame are you willing or able to accept?

Michael: I think this is part of the difficulty to establish, what I would call constructive dialogue. If I could assume that all the comments on this blog are intended to contribute to a constructive dialogue then it would be no question to always accept the difference in opinion or different view point.

I think some underestimate how much I do reflect on a daily basis on the question  if I am on the right path or not.

I fully accept blame for mistakes I make unintentionally and as well accept blame for lack of judgment on my part. No doubt that happens.

I do not accept blames for misinterpretation by others and my  firmness in what I call basic direction of the greater vision as it relates to Agri-culture and Food-Freedom.

However I do review carefully what is said about me and my actions.

Many, I have to say seem to have not enough understanding and information about me personally and what I have done or what my intentions are.

Some put a label on you and keep painting you in the public as the great enemy and self centered egomaniac who is using the raw milk issue as a vehicle to be famous.

Once somebody told me that these very often personal attacks are part of the price you pay for standing up for a cause.

I do not enjoy standing ovations or the hero status.

It is the cause which does drives me, and it is my heritage which forces me to act.

In regards to the accusation that I am attacking others because they do not agree with me, I like to point out that what seems to appear as an attack is mostly a response to a long underhanded defamation of my character based on animosities never ever intended from my side.

M: Do you think that there is a rift developing within the raw milk movement?

Michael: I think that a unified movement as a concept is desirable and good. I think diversity is important. I think the time of focusing on a one person leadership is long gone. In my opinion we need to strengthen local leadership through the involvement of many.

Much of the latest controversy around me evolves out of fear that I want control and want to regulate all cow shares.

I like to make that misconception very clear; I have zero interest in the control of the raw milk market, be it by the Government or me.

There should not be a control because I respect the freedom of the farmer and consumer to engage with each other in their own individual arrangement.

I am more concerned about the much debated reality of food safety.

We cannot ignore the Governments stronghold on food safety even if we do not agree with it.

Not many politicians currently appear courageous enough to step out of the current food safety mentality. Most are lacking the courage to think beyond their re-election agenda and very few in fact react to the concerns voiced by constituents.

M: What about the divide?

Michael: Of course there is a great divide in the movement. Here in Canada we have exactly the same challenges as in the US bridging the philosophical political approach of Food-Freedom and the more pragmatic approach of responsibility within the current regulatory framework.

I fully support the notion of Food-Rights and Food-Freedom as a human right as a basic right.

But I am not blind to the reality that we do not live in a bubble and that we cannot separate ourselves from the world as it exists today.

Working on standards for raw milk does not mean I support or ask for Government control.

My biggest challenge is the “either or”mentality of some, ignoring the process of transition.

We have allowed a bureaucracy to get out of control and expect that we simply can remove ourselves from the system to evade the dictatorial powers, does not work.

Some people love confrontation more than transformation.

Some people know all until they are challenged by authorities.

Some people have it all figured out in principle but not in reality.

M. For example?

Michael: Let me use several examples.

The issue of driver license:

I once had a friend trying to convince me that I can make my own license plates and does not need a driver license just like him.

Guess what; He got caught several times and charged and now drives according to the rules of Government.

The issue of private versus public:

Many comments on this blog have suggested that you can remove yourself from the jurisdiction of the courts by applying fundamental and natural law asserting your rights and denying the courts the right of power over you.

Guess what; Government and bureaucrats and courts and police do not give a damn about this aspect. They steam roll over every aspect of freedom and right especially when you try to paint the other side as evil or the devil.

Several fanatic proponents of these aspects ended up in jail and sooner or later adjusted their once extreme view to the reality of today’s world.

In regards to the issue of, which raw milk farmer gets charged or left alone.

Guess what?

There is currently no legal structure which will keep authorities at bay. Anybody who claims to have found or knows how to do it has not been charged because he or her are living off the benefit that somebody else is charged and publicly used by authorities as an example to scare others.

Let me be clear: No raw milk producer in Canada currently is safe from prosecution, unless we find a solution how we will demonstrate, not proof, due diligence.

Those who claim to know why I lost my appeal are utterly ignorant or selective in what and how they read the court ruling.

Guess what, especially those who “know all” tend to disappear from the face of the earth hoping to escape prosecution very quickly.

What I am trying to describe is a lot of hot air as it relates to how to “beat the system” and less willingness to create an open dialogue.

M. That leads me into the much debated question: Is dialogue with regulators a form of concessions towards Government control?

Michael: No this is not. True dialogue is trying to remove barriers of hostilities with moral walls of respect and willingness to listen to each other.

Those who promote secrecy and hide behind their anonymous postings or regulatory position are creating an environment of distrust and confusion.

Those who are afraid to stand together in support of the greater cause are just on a longer waiting list until authorities move in.

M. We are back to the old controversy that you seem to have the expectation that everybody involved should step forward and expose themselves to be charged

Michael: Yes I remember the heated debate and outrage.

It is not for everyone willing to face the prospect of prosecution.

Many have built their little castle and are profoundly afraid to challenge authorities. Still, they accept the prosecution of others, which itself is disturbing.

This was never a demand for outing, this was a call for participation to demonstrate courage.

M. Does criticism angers you?

Michael: No. Intellectual diarrhea does.

M. What is happening with Cow Share Canada?

Michael: Cow Share Canada has finally hired an administrator to manage the office work in order to establish proper communication with members and producers.

We have also a Developmental coordinator since two weeks ago taken on the logistical task to develop the organization into a national organization with Provincial chapters and a national advisory council.

I am  hoping that we are getting enough people activated across Canada to become a strong enough voice for raw milk in Canada.

M. For the purpose to legalize raw milk?

Michael: No, only for the purpose to help cow-,herd-, farm- share farmers to be recognized under the current legislation.

There is no interest to legalize raw milk for the public. But I have every intention to nurture the concept of “sharing” as an accepted and recognized model within the current law.

This way we encourage direct marketing, new communal forms of food production and accountability.

I take food safety very serious and I take accountability very serious.

M. How do you think you will achieve a change in the political arena?

Michael: Through dialogue.

Through a proven Quality Assurance Program for raw milk

Through building awareness that this is not about raw milk rather about freedom to choose.

Public pressure will grow more and more and will have impact.

Every survey or poll done in the last 5 years showed overwhelming support for the right to have a choice in favor of raw milk.

Through civil disobedience

Through determination

Through openness and sacrifice

M. How much longer do you want to fight?

Michael: The question should be: how long I think I have to fight?

In 1994 I predicted that this conflict will take 25 years to be resolved, considering the powers and the lobby money involved I think that might be the case.

M. In your view, what is currently the greatest threat to the food freedom movement?

Michael: the only real threat as I see it is the internal inconsistency, intolerance and the fatal mixup of freedom versus responsibility.

There are many paths leading to Rom, as the saying goes.

Those who are failing to see the big picture with a healthy sense of  reality will have o learn that Rom was not built in one day either.

Lots of rhetoric and criticism but no courage to stand up for the cause and others has never helped in the long run to initiate change.

I still think that the Bonhoeffer quote is very telling especially for us.

I modify it for the Food Rights Movement as follows.

First they came for the Grain and nobody said anything

Then they came for the milk and nobody said anything

Then they came for the eggs and nobody said anything

Then they came for the Meat

And then there was nothing more to eat.

Some might still believe that staying under the radar will be their saving grace.

Burying your head in the sand has never worked. Unless we begin to understand that we in fact at war over food, over our right to grow food and over the freedom of the human soul.

We are at war with ourselves not understanding what freedom truly means.

M. Thanks

Michael: You are welcome, it is always a great exercise to confront yourself with questions many are afraid to ask.



Filed under News

75 responses to ““Uniting or Dividing” — farmer Michael Schmidt on the occasion of one million visits to “The Bovine” raw milk blog

  1. Bernie

    ***M. For the purpose to legalize raw milk?
    Michael: No, only for the purpose to help cow-,herd-, farm- share farmers to be recognized under the current legislation.***

    Michael are you talking about only accredited Raw Milk Farmers through Cow Share Canada, or all Raw Milk Farmers?

  2. Bernie
    Due diligence is part of the concept. If we on a voluntary base develop credibility through training and testing and a raw milk quality seal then we will have a much better chance to get the Government off our back.
    There is absolutely no way that we get anywhere unless we recognize the current mindset of regulators and bureaucrats.
    If it convinces the state control agencies that we can with a self monitoring accommodate their concerns in the eye of the public than Cow -Share -Canada will have to play the role to be accountable unless somebody else ,knows better how to do this.
    If we do not establish standards, the Government will. You can be assured that if we leave it up the so called experts currently working for the Government , we will be regulated out of existence.

  3. thebovine

    Raoul Bedi commented on Facebook, re this post:

    When I interviewed Joel Salatin as part of his VAncouver tour last March 2011 he said that this Food Security work will become really huge and in order for it to become big we will need the honest labour of thousands of not just farmers but ordinary people like labourers , nutritionists, marketers, media people photographers , clerical etc. So I think the next step is to increase and create multiple income streams by creating a not-for-profit corporation and a charitable organization so we can start to hire the best and most creative talented and humanitarian-minded people to help us do this work . We should not always automatically assume that talented people who wish to be involved have to do it for free . It is all a big circle. If we can not pay for someone’s services then there needs to be a healthy consciousness of BARTER whether they are a farmer or a city person . It is not just the farmers that need support. City people are human beings that need new income streams and sources of livelihood as well. We are in a time of transformation both social and economic . We need to develop newer ,greener and healthier attitudes toward food, money , labour , education , government , law etc. Cow Share Canada needs to always expand it scope and understanding. Right now we are only 0.1% of the population or less. We have to have ideals and philosophies that honestly serve the majority if we want to be really deserving of the majority’s support.

  4. Bernie

    @ Michael, I understand what you are saying. I also understand that you must do what you feel is best for you and your organization.

    The main issue as I see it is this: At this time, Cow Share Canada does not speak for the majority of raw milk farmers in Canada. This being the case, is it a wise idea that Cow Share Canada comes forth as the ‘organization’ to rule them all? Would it not be better to find the one thread that we can all fall under and work together on in terms of getting ourselves heard?

    If the government comes in and gives us Standards, the majority of raw milk farmers (my guess) will keep doing what they have always done.

    If Cow Share Canada takes the helm and gives us Standards, the majority of raw milk farmers (again my guess) will keep doing what they have always done.

    It feels like there is an all out war on small farmers who deal in raw milk. As if to say they are handing out dirty milk to their people. If this was the case then Canadians would be dropping dead from raw milk poisoning. This is not the case. And those small farmers are only working on whatever set of standards they feel is best for them and their people.

    At the end of the day small farmers will be pushed by the way side, because there will be no room for them!

    • Michael Schmidt

      Why don’t you spell out your vision how to unite all. One has to start somehow. One cannot please everyone. If there is anyone who wants to pull that together ,great.
      I have learned over many years that it is always easier to be against than trying to be proactive.
      Get involved Cow Share Canada is for anybody who wants it.
      In regards to the little farms why could and would they not be able to join??

    • BC Food Security

      Bernie : On his own steam Michael went through pure HELL for 15 years in his solo dealings with the Ontario government. So now he is attempting to at least partially offer an alternative approach to newcomers so they are not forced to repeat all the same mistakes and experience all the nasty tribulations he went through. This approach is not bulletproof. How can anything be against the unlimited billion dollar budget of the government and the Dairy Marketing Boards ? And all the force the health department , the justice department and the ministry of Agriculture can bring to bear to name a few ? If someone wants to go it alone who is stopping them ? If someone does not want to go it alone why criticize Michael Schmidt or the herdshares or farmers or coops who wish to team up with http://www.cow-share-canada.com and http://www.cowsharecollege.ca ?

    • Frank

      I’m hearing farmers are keeping their distance, or distancing themselves from Michael / Cow Share Canada predominantly because of the highly political charge. Seems to me most raw milk producers want to be left alone to do what they do, and not be “governed” (or receive seal of approval) from either the government or Cow Share Canada. All this “approval” stuff is not what farmers are looking for, as far as I can tell. I am sure farmers want to learn how they can improve what they do, but they are not looking for approval or disapproval (except, of course, from their customers).

      • That’s right Frank
        That should be their right to do as they wish.
        However in today’s world there are certain realities we farmers are facing which are rather scary considering the current trend to eliminate all small dairy producers.
        One by one, very selective, with strategy and underhanded.
        Farmers have choices.

      • I agree Frank. Nobody wants the government to butt in where they don’t belong. But they are insisting they belong, because of the strong dairy lobby, who are changing regulations, Milk Industry Acts etc. behind everyone’s back. The argument about public/private was brought before the judge and tossed aside. Every other food industry is regulated. Do you really think they are going to step back and let anyone wanting to have a private herdshare just go ahead? I think we need to be realistic here, and meet them halfway. If we don’t agree on basic standards, and keep costs low, they will overregulate even the smallest of farmers, increasing all costs, and who will have to pay that? The consumer and/or farmer. If we as farmers can all agree on some basic standards that cost each farmer less than the price of a cow, and the cost can be divided amongst the members, the cost will be minimal and will save the consumers in the long run.

      • Peter

        I get that compromise (meeting half way) is common place. But then let us not tout the idea that we are standing on principle. It is no different than accepting a 5% tax increase when the government originally threatened with a 10% hike. So next year they threaten with another 10% hike. Do we compromise again and accept just another 5%? It is kind of like the Bonhoeffer quote. Where do we draw the line? Or do we continue to compromise for immediate tranquility. I’m not suggesting either is right or wrong. Just calling it out.
        If I am not mistaken, private/public was upheld in the Supreme Court of Canada. And while Michael argued it in the original trial, there appears no evidence of it in the appeal. I’d been told Karen didn’t understand that argument. But maybe Michael could shed more light on the nature of the arguments rendered.

      • miro

        Frank I think your right. I don’t believe anyone is looking for approval to do what they do, and that goes for just about everything (and especially with many rural folk). Yet, many wishing to be cow share owners want the sense of comfort that comes from knowing that any and all issues of quality have been identified and addressed in a clean and safe environment. Yet, a legislative body or caucus that wishes to grant exemption, or other such bodies in whom have the power to effect outcomes need to see certain protocols and organization inorder to respect and come to the table. What has been my experience, is that many farmers and the like looking to make a buck in a manner that is noble and has some self worth are realizing that raw milk can provide. Michael has heroicly made the case and now so many are looking to swoop in and ride his coat tails, the while claiming foul when he is seeking legitimization. I think some are feeling threatened and rather then express it are more inclined to find another reason to express their disapproval.

  5. Bernie

    @ Michael, I’m not saying I have all the answers, I’m just saying it might be better if all of Canada (to the best we can) unite to take this on as a whole.

    Can you tell me please, how much money would it cost a small farmer to take all the steps involved in becoming accredited with Cow Share Canada?

    I never said small farmers can’t join Cow Share Canada. The comment was once standards are set in place, the standards will be higher then what most small farmers can afford to put into place.

    • Michael Schmidt

      A work in progress.
      There is no way that I would be part if the little farmers are excludet.
      Standards are not driven by current antiseptic fanatics rather by common sense and proven history.
      Costs are I think less than 1000 dollars to get through the whole process. Please contact Cowsharecanada@gmail.com

      • Frank

        When they introduced the income tax, it was a really low rate. And it was dismissed as being so little, it mattered not. In due time, it ballooned. If we employ low standards, what becomes of them down the road? I’m thinking that common sense and proven history will again depend on who we believe, and question the agenda of those put forth what is common sense and proven history. At the same time, small farmers will be left out, for failing to be able to keep up with the increasingly higher standards.

      • Frank
        This all sounds as if we do not have the power to do anything. If we create enough awareness and a consciousness about where we want to go as an organization than we have a tool to counter the seemingly inevitable negative outcome you seem to predict.
        Like “Peter” referred to here many times, if we settle with the victim mentality then we might as well do nothing and make the dire predictions come true.
        Some people feel better that way.
        I myself love to be part of an attempt to show responsible leadership in order to free the Goverrnment from their perceived responsibility to regulate us.
        Doing nothing is creating the perceived need for today’s Government to either prohibit or regulate us to death.

  6. Richard Barrett

    I agree 100% with everything you said and please count me in for the
    Chapter that will represent Calgary.

    If anyone hears of a Farmer that is willing to sell on a Lease to Own
    Agreement, please let me know at fuwmilkalberta@gmail.com.

  7. To have some basic standards to protect the freedom of ‘the little guys’ (any farmer not part of the commercial industry) is more sensible than to have heavy regulated standards that are completely unnecessary. My understanding is that Cow Share Canada can benefit any farmer or member in a variety of ways. For instance, when a member travels to another province for holidays etc., they can connect to any other Cow Share Canada Farm, and have access to milk without having to do homework on the farm, as Cow Share Canada will have already done it for them. This alone would be reason enough to join. Cow Share Canada is not mandatory. It is similar to the Winegrowers Vintage Seal of Approval. Any farmer that wants to milk cows for others should not object to the basic standards set out. They should be fulfilling all of them already. The standards proposed are meant to help farmers with only one cow, to farmers with a herd, and not to be a burden for any of the farmers. Because it is not a ‘one size fits all’, the standards would probably be different from one end of the scale to the other.

    Perhaps the best solution would be to post the suggested Cow Share Canada standards if they are in place, or look at some other herdshare standards such as Washington State standards, and discuss what aspects of the standards would be acceptable, and what is overburdonsome, and the reasoning behind it, in order to establish an acceptable standard Canada wide, allowing all farmers interested in participating to do so.

    Also, although the following list is not exhaustive, it highlights the benefits of a herdshare. This is what needs to be promoted. Bottom line is if a farmer isn’t doing the job well, he/she will not have any members to milk cows for. Unfortunately, if that happens, every other farm is affected. Promoting these basic facts of herdsharing will show the public this is not about health, but purely one of market control.

    Why Cow Share?
    • Fresh unprocessed milk
    • Quality Control – Know your farmer, know the facilities, know your animals welfare
    • Support Local Sustainable Agriculture – Save small family farms
    • Support 100 Mile Diet
    • Protects the farmer – since the animal belongs to the consumer, the consumer is drinking milk from their own animal
    • Consumer Choice – consumer can choose to pasturize their milk in their own setting
    • 100% Traceability – does not enter public. Only goes to herdshare members, who are a phone call or email away. If ever there was a health concern, in short order all members could be notified and placed on a ‘boil milk advisery’. Each jar can be traced back to the time and date of jarring.
    • Environment friendly. No plastic throw-away containers. Recycle/Reuse Glass Jars
    • Farmer accountability: Farmer will care for herd to the best of ability, and will ensure very high standard product, or the farmer will be out of business.
    • Promote healthy animals: No pressure for animals to produce high volumes. Animals can enjoy leisurely life, great food (grass fed) and produce only what is natural. Ensures better health of milk and better health of animals.
    • Members can visit their animals anytime, and assist their farmer as needed.

    Sharing this information with your MP’s and MLA’s will help educate them and show them an easy solution to this challenge, without having to change any laws. By the stroke of a pen they can implement such a program.

    • Peter

      Hi Alice,
      I must say I really liked your post. I have taken the liberty to extract some of your points, and comment on them.
      You suggested that, when a member travels to another province for holidays etc., they can connect to any other Cow Share Canada Farm, and have access to milk without having to do homework on the farm, as Cow Share Canada will have already done it for them. This speaks specifically to a transfer of responsibility away from the consumer, and onto Cow Share Canada. As such, CSC is in deed a governing body.
      Posting standards has not been Michael’s / CSC’s policy in the past. Perhaps that will change now. But if the standards vary depending on whether you have one cow or a herd, that might present some interesting debate.
      I must say I concur fully with your comment: “Bottom line is if a farmer isn’t doing the job well, he/she will not have any members to milk cows for”. But that then undermines the need for 3rd party approval, because the approval comes from the customers.
      You mentioned that Cow Share “Protects the farmer – since the animal belongs to the consumer, the consumer is drinking milk from their own animal”. I would suggest that is, and is not accurate. As Michael said, it is all about “the fatal mixup of freedom versus responsibility”. Just because you own stock does not make you responsible.
      Again, I fully concur with the point “Farmer accountability: Farmer will care for herd to the best of ability, and will ensure very high standard product, or the farmer will be out of business”. No 3rd party approval necessary.
      In deed, just as commercial dairy farmers might not have as much inherent care about the quality of the milk that they ship because it gets pasteurized anyway, so might a regulated / CSC approved farmer also be able say “but I did according to what they said I needed to do”, because the responsibility has been transferred.
      Again, like Michael said, there is a “the fatal mixup of freedom versus responsibility”. And because Michael’s comments suggest others here on the Bovine blog are confused about it, (seemingly implying that he is not), I am sure he’d do well to explain / elaborate on it.
      Anyway, that is my 2 cents worth.

      • Hi Peter.

        Just to clarify…the thoughts I have brought forward has been my take on things over time, and that I am not speaking for Michael, and am not even sure if I my understanding is accurate, but brought forward in the hopes that Michael can clarify.

        As far as responsibility, I believe it is two fold. It is the farmer’s responsibility to do whatever they can to ensure a safe product for the owners, and it is the owner’s responsibility to ensure the farmer is making every effort to ensure the product is safe, and by doing so, also accepts the risks, if any, around the care of their cow, or part of the herd(s).

        I don’t believe there is a farmer out there that will take that responsibility lightly. First and foremost I would love to have no governing body, after all, what farmer likes to be told what to do (lol)….but I would choose a governing body that cares for the farmers with farms of any size, over a governing body that is controlled by Big Ag.

        I would think that taking a course with Cow Share Canada, would be like taking a food safe course before working in a restaurant. Learning proper food handling procedures before handling the food…..

  8. miro

    Approaching the task of being involved in this movement i have taken it upon myself to become informed of the issues surrounding Raw Milk and the social nature of the movement itself. One of the most fundamental and necessary componants is of an educated consumer. In the objectified world in which we live it has become necessary for a third body to act as the assurer of this. This has come in the way of a general understanding of what makes it healthy. If anyone here were to list what makes raw milk production healthy they would in fact be creating such a standard of quality assurance. Another question might be from where might we draw expertise. Who has been executing such a standard for the longest time span? and who might be willing to act as educator and mentor for those enthusiastic learning and needing credibility? Now we start to recognize the scope of doing this or in a way that in fact legitimizes the entire process before all social constructs of the day and can in fact find the way to reach our common goals.

    Should we create a new paradigm to change the nature of the system in place? Perhaps, but that really is another struggle and we might do better for this movement, and the broader implications, to focus on one thing at a time, and do our best to keep things as clear as we can.

    The question we might also ask ourselves is, do we wish to participate or do we take the chance that those who presently threaten us with outdated and uninformed regulation (absolute hazard) confront, confound or create out of their own personal drives the manner in which we must operate, if at all?

    I think that it is entirely helpful that objections be made known, that the issues be brought forward and that we develop the broader capacity to address these issues and create an organization that is inclusive and transparent, and that starts now! We are going forward with this and everyone is invited to take part. Our task, now, is to develop the operational capacity to facilitate this process leading to our first collective assembly. Please stay tuned for more announcement to come.

    • So first step in inclusive and transparent…who is we? As in WE are going forward with this? Is this a group that is already formed?

      • miro

        Hello Alice, thank you for your questions I have little time to respond before running out.

        From my understanding CowShare Canada has formed out of the discussions of many people that have come up to Michael along his travels and the such. Michael is a very busy guy and putting this together had a begining that took the shortest root to some sense of functionality. Not to mention a slow lets see how it goes approach. As time moved on and the need for a the organization continues it has become clear that he needs to step back and re-examine what role he is to play in the future. So, what is lacking here is a process of broader participation of inclusion in forming the organization out of the movement itself. So we have been spending some time sitting with the dialogue of how to go froward from how it has first come about to be and how to carry it into the broader collective sphere. It is easy to go forward and create when it is done by a few, so going forward with broader inclusion requires some thought.

        What I mean by we. I am the Developmental Co-ordinator that Michael has refered to. We are looking to make a formal introduction soon, but with the holidays and by virtue of the voluntary nature of my role it is still in progress. I wish to set forward, soon, the goals toward facilitating the discussion toward achieving the state where by all my agree the sufficient due process has been fulfilled.

        There are three things that are key in going forward. inclusion, transparency and disclosure.

        sorry I have to run now. I look forward to expanding on all this and moving toward the next steps with you all.

  9. miro

    I get that compromise (meeting half way) is common place. But then let us not tout the idea that we are standing on principle. It is no different than accepting a 5% tax increase when the government originally threatened with a 10% hike. So next year they threaten with another 10% hike. Do we compromise again and accept just another 5%? It is kind of like the Bonhoeffer quote. Where do we draw the line? Or do we continue to compromise for immediate tranquility. I’m not suggesting either is right or wrong. Just calling it out.
    If I am not mistaken, private/public was upheld in the Supreme Court of Canada. And while Michael argued it in the original trial, there appears no evidence of it in the appeal. I’d been told Karen didn’t understand that argument. But maybe Michael could shed more light on the nature of the arguments rendered.

    Peter, I think this is a fallacious comparison and holds little merit to the broader point of using a standards as a means to work with others whose working mandate shares this domain.

  10. John

    I have a feeling that the putative ‘acceptance’ of cow/herd/farm share arrangements might risk ‘letting the genie out of the bottle’. In my mind, anyone wishing to distribute milk or milk products in this manner would then be able to do so (whether it be someone with 10 cows or someone with 10 extra cows added to their existing quota-herd of a few hundred). It would be difficult to ensure they weren’t just ‘sham-shares’ and, assuming there might be a couple of share-dairies on just about every Concession, ensuring any standards would require an impossible number of inspectors (no matter who does the inspecting). Innovative marketers could develop their own promotional tools independently to capture would be ‘sharers’ and could be quite independent of your National body. I have this feeling that some who post here can see the opportunities created for themselves but not the potential for competition that might result.

  11. miro

    John, your right. Considering the economic and broader implications is important and very necessary. What is happening is that many farmers are exploring this on account of the attention Michael has been able to raise around this issue in Canada. They are realizing that they can enter into a marketplace where there is abundant demand with little capital. Essentially a farmer can make a decent living for himself and his family managing a herd share of as little as 10 cows. What is also happening is that many people who have no experience on farms or in dairy are wishing to get out of the city and look to make a living too through offering a cowshare operation. In fact over the years I have seen a few come work for Michael only to take off and start some dubious operation that threatens everything Michael has worked for, like “Out the Back of the Van _ _ _ _ _ _” that posts here under another name.
    There are many problems that are arising here and threatening everything that people like Michael have been striving for. Considering the abundant demand for raw milk there is simply no reason why a farmer could not put forward the necessary capital to do things as best as they can for them and their cow share owners. There are things that are just important, like the angle of the pipes-ensuring there is no place for stasis of liquids, like ensuring an adequit protocol of cleanliness, like keeping things off the floor or away from areas of potential contanmination. Does the person that is interested in a cowshare know how to care for and ensure the processes of a dairy safely? Most do not and will be quite thrilled that their herdshare is a active member of CowShare Canada! In fact, the vast majority of people here in Ontario are aware of RawMilk because of Michael and his supporters and want what he’s got and are willing to settle for what ever they can get.
    I think, John, you are raising the point that some feel threatened by the move toward standardization not so much because it might mean working with a third party but because it might also mean they might have to openly compete with others, perhaps more competent or simply offering more for the buck then they can. To me this is exactly the reason for just such farmers to get involved now.
    I have spent some time with Michael exploring the fundamentals of what is being worked for in the quality assurance program. Essentially it is a program that helps to ensure that people, families and communities have access to healthy food in a manner that supports local farmers. The quality assurance program is designed for small farming operations with no more then a herd of forty cows, which is more then enough to supply the necessary capital to run a farm and raise a family. In our desperate and trying times this endeavor is vital.
    Some may be so concerned with hiding themselves from authorities and the such that they fail to realize that CowShare Canada is essentially working to protect this cow share activity while making it legitimate before the eyes of the public. I suppose they are feeling threatened because if they choose to hide they may find themselves excluded in the future, and also loose their cowshare members to other farmers who don’t wish to live like criminals. This is not the intention of CowShare Canada but a consideration in which we need to do our best to accomodate and discuss. CowShare Canada is NOT seeking to be any kind of attack on conventional farming or secret dairy operations or in any way looking to inflict the hardship that comes from being raided. Its actions may in some way effect the broader industry and we wish to be sensitive to this and remain open to dialogue.

    • Peter

      Thanks, Miro… (or is it really Jack? – I don’t care, but Michael might). Well said. IMO, you make a good spokesperson for Michael.
      It is unfortunate to hear that many problems are arising which are threatening all that Michael (and the like) has been working for. Would it be of benefit if you could share/elaborate on the nature of the problems?
      You indicated others may be operating dubious operations. I hope you would agree that such is a subjective opinion (… and here is hoping you are not just passing off somebody else’s opinion / prejudice). In deed, I have seen operations that leave something to be desired. But I hardly perceive that as threatening to me. Many consumers think it just fine to milk into an open bucket, like in the days of old. Is that a dubious methodology? I suggest it depends whom you ask, and what their standards are.
      It is unfortunate that you and/or Michael, or the like, feel threatened by the conduct of others. But that does appear to be the underlying premise from which Michael operates. In deed, feeling threatened is the inherent evidence of the need to fortify / prop up that which has been worked for so hard (fear that the form may dissolve, or may not manifest as desired). This is not a problem, but does, imo, breed a socialistic, antagonistic, dualistic perspective, and a need to fight (i.e. fight for freedom/hunger strike, etc.), and does not radiate the space of freedom and acceptance. I would suggest the need to maintain or create form is the product of a purely subjective perspective. “I know best”, or “my ideology is important/best/right” tends to be the attitude. I am of the view that freedom entails acceptance. I would suggest the space of freedom does not experience threat.
      I get the impression that challenging questions, and consideration of the consequences of any approach has been perceived by Michael as threatening/attacking, or as though the person doing the challenging is feeling threatened (attempt at deflection?). If Michael has a clear vision / is well grounded / free and accepting, why should a challenging question, or alternative idea be threatening? Why is that called attacking (evidence of a dualistic/antagonistic/fighting frame of mind)?
      Your comments seem to suggest that we should pay homage to Michael for what he has done. Unless I am mistaken, I believe Michael chose to be loud and public about his affairs. Does that oblige others? As an alternative viewpoint, some say that the awareness of raw milk / local food / farm fresh food is/was well afoot, and the market demand existed/exists anyway independent of Michael’s noise.
      Invariably the vacuum will be filled. So as to offer an alternative perspective, some might be inclined to give credit to those (from the city or not) who, seeing the need, have taken action where existing farmers have not. Is that too risky? Is that contrary to some subjective ideology? I suppose it depends on who you ask. Is raw milk really dangerous, or is it really safe?
      Anyway… long enough.
      PS – And thank you for suggesting that, at CSC, all are welcome. My experience has been that most churches are like that too, until you ask a challenging question. But I don’t get that you are offended by the challenges. You, in deed, give the feeling of openness and acceptance, and instill a feeling of welcome. Thank you. J

    • John

      Miro, Thankyou for the reply. But, I would just point out that, in of itself, the single end-goal of allowing cow/herd/farm-share arrangements is not at all linked to providing just unpasteurized milk. The potential market for this local, I’ll call it ‘heritage’ milk production, is there but it will be small in the beginning. With market saturation may come intense competition for ‘sharers’ (with no referee). Also, I suspect hard-working dairy farm families who have invested a fortune in their quota a likely to be less than pleased with those who seek to avoid the quota system entirely. Sorry, I see this as a divisive and unhappy future.

      • Peter

        John… I also see a divisive and unhappy future with the general (even if unclear) direction CSC/Michael is headed into. However, it has been suggested that it is prudent to take action, regardless. And we are free to explore that path, with or without intellectual diarrhea. Undoubtedly there will be unintended consequences for conduct without forethought.

  12. BC Food Security

    For me the problem is much bigger than just regulating raw milk. It goes even beyond even the dairy marketing boards. The powers that be have gotten so good at minting money from their pasteurized, X-rayed, irradiated, allopathic and surgically removed view of reality that they will fight like cats and dogs to allow a new and expanded paradigm and consciousness in . So I support all efforts of Michael and Our Cows to just keep drilling away at those regulations !!!! But if we keep this really BIG context in mind and are aware that we are fighting an insidious form of brainwashing that has gone on for at least 80 years or longer then we will not lose hope or heart if we do not win in 5 or 10 years.

  13. nedlud

    This is a great interview, though I disagree with Michael on a few items. Censorship and editing is wrong. One may, as ‘owner/operator’ of a website that invites public comment, feel compelled to do a wrong (via edit) but if you do, you damn well better minimize it and then minimize it some more, or you quickly become part of the government game. There is no gettting around this fact….

    Great job Michael @the Bovine and great job Michael Schmidt.

    Great job to all you Canada folks.

    Now, let’s get rid of big government and fascism forever. (I wish…)

  14. nedlud

    Another thing I disagree with Michael on is his overall willingness to appease government, and yes, this is a difficult ‘moral’ issue….

    ….government (EVIL) gains strength slowly, almost imperceptibly initially by seeming to appeal to common sense and everyone’s desire to live. It is most definitely, parasitic in nature. Evehtually, the parasite overwhelms the host.

    It may truly be better to die than to live under these circumstances.

    And so I fully support martyrdom and those who apparently DO commit a kind of suicide in theri vehement opposition to those who disappear freedom.

  15. nedlud

    btw: You still need to make this comment device work better, although I suppose that’s a wordpress issue. I don’t like the way this thing works.

    By ‘disappear freedom’, I mean those that wantonly destroy freedom and take away natural liberties and expressions.

    Sorry about the typos.

  16. We are getting to the point where action is a wonderful alternative to the intellectual dissection of what one should, would, could, must, cannot and should not do.
    I think we should apply the overriding principle of freedom and tolerance as promoted and suggested.
    Respect the good intentions of everyone.
    Those who want to be part of establishing a framework for quality raw milk in Canada, be it as a cow share, farm share or herd share should have the freedom to do just that.
    If we choose as part of this goal a constructive dialogue with regulators and Government then I reserve the right to be free to do just that. Those who create division by creating an enemy are working on exactly the same principles as those they think they have to fight.
    Instead of waiting until we all agree, I propose that those who have an interest in seeing standards, education and a quality assurance seal move ahead because after all we are FREE (aren’t we) and others are FREE (aren’t they) to join or participate.
    We cannot keep going around and around and around until the cows come home.
    We actually need to be ready when the cows come home.
    Welcome Miro for taking on the challenge of building jointly, co-operatively an organization everyone is free to join or not.
    A happy new year to ALL of you.

    • nedlud

      @Michael Schmidt:

      There IS a clear enemy.

      Make no mistake.

      Carry on, brother.

      your friend,

    • BC Food Security

      Agreed: There is a time for seeking CONSENSUS and there is time for ACTION. But these do not have to be wholly and mutually exclusive terms. We can always seek a little consensus while doing and constructively start to act on our goals and dreams even while seeking consensus ! But to spend too much time seeking consensus after a major course of action has been decided upon is a MISTAKE . Because what you are actually doing is weakening your own and the group energy’s resolve with the energy of DOUBT. Not a good idea ! There will always be doubters and backseat drivers no matter how right an idea is and how much the time has come to implement the idea . Best not to overfeed that energy or everybody will lose and NOTHING will be achieved .

    • Peter

      “I think we should apply the overriding principle of freedom … as promoted and suggested”. Amen.
      Yes, I am glad you feel free to choose, as part of your goal, to dialogue with regulators. I hope you are also accepting of others challenging the wisdom of such a choice… not for the purpose of creating enemies, but for questioning our sanity.
      I have never had the feeling that this blog/forum was intended to attain consensus before taking action. I would encourage all to feel and be free independent of the opinions of others, and independent of this blog. And if that includes perpetuating the status quo, or to act without understanding, then please feel free to do so.
      Thanks, Michael. I appreciate seeing you elevate yourself back up (even if only in word). I hope in deed you are accepting of the fact that I am Peter, that city people sell raw milk, that not everyone feels inclined to be public about his/her affairs, that not everyone stands united with you, that others are free to pursue their own ambitions, contrary to yours, and that others feel it prudent to engage in intellectual “diarrhea” for the purpose of being well grounded before taking action.
      Here’s to realizing freedom through acceptance!

      • Well Peter, George or Charlie Brown.
        I still have no clarity who you are , but according to you it doesnt matter anyhow. It has no doubt a different quality if you know who says what. There are many hypocrites out there who can write and talk but do not walk the talk as the saying goes.
        I am amused to read your assumptions about what my goals and intends apparently are.
        I do not at all have changed my thinking and strategy about CSC.
        Whatever you want to read into certainly is great but not necessarily the reality.
        I once had a great friend who was talking and writing just like you about freedom and soveirgnty and responsibility and and and .
        Well he turned out as somebody so disconnected with reality and respect for others, with complete disregard how his actions affect others. It was all about freedom as long as it related to him.
        But he was ,just like you appears to be, the great teacher and talker.
        Whenever I meet these great talkers about freedom and responsibility than I wonder why there is no fundamental recognition where and when freedom really matters.
        May your wisdom help you to become a true servant for the truth and freedom you preach and hopefully apply in your daily life as well.
        Please disconnect my persona from the cause that might help to focus on the issue at hand.

      • Peter

        Thank you. You are probably right. I probably have made assumptions.
        If you’re willing to clarify, I would be grateful. Perhaps we could call this an effective starting point for constructive dialog about what the thinking, strategies, goals and intentions are.
        PS – If your previous experiences with your friend prejudices me, or the ideas I share, I regret those experiences are clouding your ability to perceive objectively.

  17. Thanks everyone
    By the way Canada is not the only country struggling to find common ground in this specific field. It seems as if the raw milk issue has taken on the entire moral burden of freedom in the world.
    It’s just milk.
    Have a toast before the milk starts curdling

  18. BC Food Security

    The GMO contamination of seed, spraying of pesticides and herbicides, vaccination of animals, use of synthetic hormones and other drugs in animals, the use of chemical fertilizers , the irradiation of food, the overprocessing of food and the addition of taste enhancers and preservatives are equally large and important issues. The difference is that with Raw Milk we are trying to preserve the original life force of the food while the above methods seek to reduce , minimize or destroy the life force in the food .

  19. BC Food Security

    Peter : I have a suggestion : For a refreshing change let’s talk about RAW MILK ! Let’s talk about raw milk and a good, safe and accessible service for the human beings that want it , value it and are willing to pay for it.

    • Michael Schmidt

      Great that’s what I call constructive.
      One step at a time.
      Let’s focus on milk
      Then let’s focus on supporting the GMO battle
      Then let’s focus on meat, eggs, chicken
      One step at a time.
      That’s how you might achieve more freedom than wanting everything at once.

      • Peter

        I agree. My question is: what are we aiming to construct?
        I remember the fairy tale about the 3 little piggies. You can construct a house out of straw, stick or bricks. I remember a passage in the bible about building a house on sand, or on a rock.
        Perhaps we could call this an effective starting point for constructive dialog about what the thinking, strategies, goals and intentions are.

    • BC Food Security

      Many of the principles of any kind of Food Activism and Security are really quite simple:
      1. The Food should be as nutritious as possible
      2. The Food should be as pure as possible.
      3. The Food should have as much life force as possible (without compromising safety).
      4. The food should be as inexpensive and accessible as possible (without compromising right livelihood principles for the farmers and labourers and distributors or anyone else in the food marketing and distribution chain ) .

      In a perfect world the above 4 principles should be our primary focus and joy. How to do that and how to teach others to look for that and to do that ?

      Anything else is a “sideshow” that keeps people sick with a lot of low quality food or “look-alike food ” that only serves the convenience and profit of big business and big government.
      Since billions of dollars are riding on the issue , one of the techniques the other side uses is to confuse the issue as much as possible with a lot of junk science and bad information and negative PR. If that does not work there is always expensive regulation. And if that does not work there is always the “fear card ” !
      To me , one of the unfortunate things is to observe how the goverment and industry are often able to get away with framing the debate on their terms and around fragmented issues that are many times not even of primary importance in the big picture or the 4 principles mentioned above. So much time , money and resources has been wasted in this roundabout and inefficient process and debate .

      • Peter

        @BC – Those are great basic food principles for many people, myself included. If I may suggest, there are, however, many people from various cultures that boil their milk. Moreover, they could care less about organics, or the presence of soy, or other things that you and I might deem important. Many place great importance on the space (spirituality) with which the product was produced/harvested, and/or the personal relationship with the producer. In other words, they do not necessarily scribe to the same food principles as you and I do. All I am trying to say is that there are a myriad of varying food standards (measurements). Everyone has their own. So to set a standard, it might not appease some (i.e. soy might be permitted), and it might burden others (having to pay for organics). Standards are an attempt to create a “one size fits all”, and has a real tendency to remove the art, and instill a science in the practice of food production. I would suggest there is nothing wrong with that. Moreover, it does also inherently limits, or stunt potential. Rules and laws oppress. IMO, in the arena of commerce, there is no better standard than consumer demand.
        One might also consider the different tendencies in the human condition with or without an insurance/assurance policy. Standards and Seal of Approval is an insurance/assurance policy. Ownership creates responsibility. Insurance defers responsibility, and detracts from faith, and is an abridgement of rights. Is it any wonder we are complaining about government interference, and their imposition on our lives? I would suggest it is confusion about the assignment of responsibility.
        I suppose I could ramble on, but I suppose it might just all be dismissed as intellectual diarrhea anyway 🙂
        Blessings, and happy new year.

      • BC Food Security

        Peter: Forgive me for being mischievous and lawyer-like but I referred to “principles” deliberately and not “standards” . I did this because when we get lost debating rules or no rules , regulations or no regulations, standards or no standards , it helps to remind ourselves that there was some kind of ideal from which the regulations emanated from in the first place . Hopefully nobody here will argue that the food should NOT be as NUTRITIOUS and PURE and life-giving as possible and practical ? I am intentionally vague here for a reason. Because now the fun part starts when we have to codify that in our material world. Sadly as common-sensical as these simple principles sound they can not be taken for granted and have already been seriously degraded whether intentionally or unintentionally. Maybe we would get a better result from our politicians if they would remind themselves of what the founding principles were when creating or revising a law about food (or anything else) ? Just a thought .

  20. Peter

    I agree. My question is: what are we aiming to construct?
    I remember the fairy tale about the 3 little piggies. You can construct a house out of straw, stick or bricks. I remember a passage in the bible about building a house on sand, or on a rock.
    Perhaps we could call this an effective starting point for constructive dialog about what the thinking, strategies, goals and intentions are.

  21. BC Food Security

    Peter: I probably would add a 5th principle (which is more modern and recent) that the :
    5. Food Production and Distribution, Handling and Packaging should be as non-polluting to the environment as possible.
    6. Spiritual – I wonder if that term does not already “envelope ” the other 5 principles ? If we are coming from a place of win-win there will not be any need for harmful shortcuts in the first place ? A lot of this debate with the government would simply melt away if we all would try our best to do what is right with nobody and nothing left out ? Or maybe you mean a loftier and more metaphysical kind of spiritual like HELLA D’s great article last week on the “SACREDNESS OF MILK ” ? Given how few articles can be found on that kind of topic in Canada it does not seem to be a priority issue for most people ?
    I don’t want to claim that I have invented these principles but when we have to endlessly debate specific details with bureaucracy or big business it would be helpful to keep these principles handy so that we don’t get sidetracked or frustrated or lost on tangential issues as is normally the case .

  22. Mona

    I agree with Peter’s comment on BC Food Securities basic food standards.

    An example – When Ostrich meat was said to be a great new market for small farmers; people were paying high prices for breeding stock to produce this excellent meat. Sadly, farmers had the stock ready for market, before the market had been developed. Now, after many years and many of those Ostrich breeders have given up their goals and Ostriches, the market for Ostich meat is growing and the price is sky high because there are so few producers. Supply and demand is key to availability and pricing. When there is a balance between the production of healthy food and a market for it so the farmer can sell his product for a reasonable price – your goals will have a chance to happen, for those who want what you want.

    IMO Education is the key to moving from commercially produced foods to healthy foods, for those who want them. How can they choose if they don’t know what the difference is or their value when they find prices higher because they are not subsidized or mass produced? It would appear that your goal might be to educate people to want what you want so there can be more of that available and at better prices for all who want it. Could I be correct in that observation?

    It appears that Michael might have a similar goal in educating people to want what he wants so there can be more of that available and at better prices. Could that be a correct observation?

    To chastise others for not agreeing with your goals seems to me to be most counter-productive. It is not a right to attack and threaten others because they don’t agree with you, or even, may think your ideas are in need of reconsideration or a little insight in another area. We have freedom of speech, but threatening others is harassment. Certainly not good people skills at the least.

    I appreciate Michael interviewing himself so that it is clearer what his goals are and that they are developing and changing – which is what I felt, but could not see clearly and tended to be wary of. It is good to have Michael’s goals and purpose be more clarified. One needs to know what a person or group stands for in order to decide whether to join them or not. Not only at the beginning, but as things change as well.

    With tongue in cheek, I cannot help but comment that it was good, some comments ago, to see that Michael was “back” in his writing style, which is clearly his. I wonder who his anonymous ghost writer or anonymous editor was that caused his questions and answers to carry his name, yet not sound like him. I don’t feel that anonymous is wrong in comments. Depth of thought and intent to share seems much more important in my opinion.

    • Mona
      I checked my comments posted and have to declare that all of them have been written by me, and have not been edited.
      I was surprised by your observation that you could notice a difference.
      I would not post anything which is not written by me. I also do not consider those posts or comments made under a fake name as serious or worth much as those who have the courage to stand behind their word.
      Thank you Mona and also a happy new year

      • Frank

        I had no doubt the comments under your name were yours… Not sure where that came from.
        But I must say you are sounding a bit dismissive with your other comments. Are you suggesting you diminish the value of the feedback from BC Food Security, Joe in Missouri, nedlud, or the like, because you don’t know who they are? Do you know John, Miro, Mona, Peter, or James? And if not, do you equally dismiss their commentary? Truly it makes me ask why then do you participate in this blog?

      • miro

        Frank, There is with out a doubt a liberty and accessible elements of the anonymous postings. Many believe them to be the corner stone of equality on the net. More recently I heard a feature on CBC of instances where some social networks were actually requiring people to truly represent who they are, as they found that the nature of discourse itself was being impeded by the fact that no one had to be accountable to what they were posting. Similarly, a friend of mine was talking to me the other day about driving in TO as opposed to small towns. He pointed pout that more and more drivers just did not care who they were screwing as they did not know them and vice versa. The idea was that when people realize they will be seen again, as nieghbor or what have you, they act differently. I think in some way speaks to some of the comments of Michael.

      • Frank

        @ Miro,
        I can see what you are saying. But it doesn’t answer why his participation on this blog. Because there is participation, undoubtedly there is some value there. I personally would have thought that unbridled comments are more valuable, because you are more likely to see what is behind the mask. But if our comments are restrained because we see someone as our neighbor, it seems to me we are less frank. Seems we are then “acting” with guard or prejudice.
        I see accountability as measuring, judging, and guilt tripping, and therefore inhibiting the free flow of ideas.

  23. BC Food Security

    Mona : Yes , education is the key . I want to emphasize that everyone’s understanding of the goal is evolving. I purposely used words that, while they may have a few objective parameters, can not be fully objectified i.e Life force, Nutrition, and Purity. The concept of food miles hardly existed 10 years ago and now everyone talks about the “hundred mile diet” .
    I am not sure if or why “commercial food ” has to equal junk, overprocessed, GMO, sprayed , hybridized , irradiated to be “affordable ” ? Is this primarily a North American construct and an example of more shrewd “marketing” ? I ask this question rhetorically ? Mankind has existed for millions of years without these particular “hi tech” add-ons ? The Europeans currently survive well without most of all that as well. The main benefit i can see of most so-called HI Tech food is that it may be easier to register a patent for its formulation ( a side benefit is that it keeps the majority of the population sick longer which directly benefits pharmaceutical companies ! ) ? Lastly , I do not want to rule out that there is not some modern technology that is being used or could be used to produce food with greater purity and nutrition as well . You just might not hear about it from Monsanto ! So to conclude education is first of all needed to identify undesirable shortcuts and suspicious activity emanating from the government and giant food conglomerates like Monsanto. But hopefully as the organic movement grows to a more dominant role in our society , we will be able to focus all of our attention on more local, life-giving , natural and nutrition-enhancing applications (and in my opinion more fun ones too) .

  24. Mona

    Happy New Year to you all.

  25. miro

    “””””@ Miro,
    I can see what you are saying. But it doesn’t answer why his participation on this blog. Because there is participation, undoubtedly there is some value there. I personally would have thought that unbridled comments are more valuable, because you are more likely to see what is behind the mask. But if our comments are restrained because we see someone as our neighbor, it seems to me we are less frank. Seems we are then “acting” with guard or prejudice.
    I see accountability as measuring, judging, and guilt tripping, and therefore inhibiting the free flow of ideas.”””””

    Thank you Frank,
    When we explore this question of why such a wish for this blog. I think there is truth to your point and the critisism of Michael is a little misplaced and comes out of a inner wish or need for the appropriate venue to actually share info and work with others toward this initiative. I think that there is definite value in the brew of anonymity and that this blog has many meanings to different parties which causes some loss of utility while making available unfettered input.
    So because there has been no working group this blog has, in some regard, been acting like such a discussion forum toward some end. As one such as Michael (who values integrity) has used it, till now, it is easy to understand why he might have made such comments as he has.
    The question arises of how to use different modes of dialogue to participate and engage in different activity?

    An important issue arises when considering how to involve others in the discussion of such a topic, while looking to uphold principals of inclusion, transparency and disclosure. For organizational representation to follow such principals it inherently requires other interested parties to also follow them, or a the very least create the environment for the greatest potential to exist. Considering that there are other entities at work in the realm of RawMilk we might really wish to explore how to carry on. For instance, the realm of anonymity allows Interested parties such as the various dairy organizations, law firms that represent them like Marler&Clark, and the various governmental agencies, that might wish to influence the movment, to willfully misrepresent themselves in order achieve their unannounced goals.

    Now you have raised a very good point, or at least it is inherent in your posting. That the chance also exists, when we disclose who we are and how we are connected to the discussion, that we may in fact be inhibited to freely express our thoughts in fear of …whatever there may lie true or not. This is a risk and one in which we might do well to avert by all participating in holding the forum in a manner that in fact allows for voices to be heard while also understanding who they are and what they represent. Having had the opportunity to work in groups where such holding occurs, I can say it is possible and worth seeking out. When we have the courage to be vulnerable we participate in the realm of growth and development. Yes, it might mean that we get hurt, or that we inflict hurt upon another. Yet, the more we do it and recognize ourselves in others the greater becomes our capacity to work together and achieve things. And, we learn to develop a better sense for the subtleties and fine complexities of social endeavor.

    In light of your comments I would like to add that Michael has in fact expressed himself in just such a manner as “what is behind the mask”. Now, he is being criticized for just that, by some who are expressing the value of just such a thing. I say “some” for two reasons. One, because you are not the only one who has expressed this and two, because I wish to understand this as a human expression that is independent of you, though you are expressing it. And while I may be inferring an error in reasoning I do not wish to insult you in any way. In fact, I am so very happy that you have taken the time and effort to bring this forward in just such a way that has allowed me to understand things that much more.

    • Frank

      Very well. If I may add to my train of thought – That Michael puts himself out there as being Michael (his reputation, character and all) is effectively an invitation to be subject to scrutiny. Others might be inclined to reflect more on ideas, rather than to muddy the water by introducing additional persona, character, reputation, etc.
      If he is a man of integrity, I don’t know why comments from others, known or unknown, should phase him, or make him uncomfortable (https://thebovine.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/michael-schmidts-b-c-contempt-of-court-prosecution-postponed-til-april/#comments). His preoccupation with who the messenger suggests there are elements within him that do not necessarily stand up to scrutiny, and he has invited / challenged others to find that out. Fire refines. I would suggest Michael, perhaps unconsciously, has invited a refinement by the fire of scrutiny. Blessing on him for his journey. And I would suggest blessings on those who have chosen the path of refinement in other ways.

      • miro

        Quite true. We often wish that those that are taking on such roles in our society have thick skin and learn to appreciate that such things come with the territory. It is what tends to keep most people away from public life. It also tends to be why we often get the same kind of stuff coming from our politicians mouths. They learn early that actually participating as a human being, expressing their bias and the like means personal attacks and that kind of thing. Now some are better at it then others and some just really don’t have any opinion of their own to begin with. From my analysis Michael is a fire spirit, a person of action and initiation. His very nature invites division. Its is why he has been so instrumental and well suited to take on this role that he has.

      • Frank

        Hi Miro,
        Yes, I think you have hit on a very key point: “His very nature invites division.” I always thought the title of this blog entry was itself very interesting, for it seems to speak to his dualistic/fighting/antagonistic frame of mine. I’m not saying it is necessarily so… just observing.

      • BC Food Security

        It is not a coincidence that fissures are simultaneously happening with RAWMI in California. I think the movement and work is becoming really huge now so many of us can now go it alone , all or in part, with our own unique vision and work. It is time for some serious and qualitative “finetuning” as well. Big Box Store Raw Milk can never be the same thing as herdshare raw milk . It needn’t be either. Let us not try to fit a square peg in a round hole or a round peg in a square hole !!!!

  26. Pingback: Raw Milk/Food Freedom Movement Going Into 2012 « Balance Your Apple

  27. MakeStrongHumanSpirits

    I’m very glad that Michael, Karen, and many others apparently intend to ‘stick with the plan’.

    If we remain passive, government will someday tell us we can’t breathe, let alone eat, except by their say-so. So I appreciate the efforts by Michael and others to persist and persevere in finding the way forward. (I live off-farm in town, but I try to do my part, including supporting Cow Share Canada.)

    I suspect Michael would be in a good position, based on his long experience, to know when it will be okay to saw off a deal with government, and when to not do that. They are not going to go away. There won’t ever be one final perfect way of doing things, it will always have to evolve and adapt. And it is the nature of corporate lobbying of government, that they will keep coming up with new angles to undermine the small producers, but these same small producers may discover new life by creating a symbiosis with a co-operative consumer community.

    The important thing is finding a way forward, and continually exercising our health values in life, to both survive and thrive, and in order to “robustify” humans in everyday life. Currently and more and more these days, this involves standing up for essential rights, in order to not be degraded into denying our humanity. Consumers need to ‘get exercised’ for our human rights to choose healthy food — and to choose ethical farming for our food supply (and as values we want to pass to the next generation).

  28. BC Food Security

    Intenders and Politics (From the Intenders Blog)
    Politics by its definition is the art of controlling people. But it’s a strange day, indeed, when the people of a country have voted (through their representatives) to allow themselves to be tortured, to be taken without notice from their own homes, to trash their precious Bill of Rights, and more. What we are seeing at the beginning of 2012 is a blatant example of the people feeding the hand that’s biting them, and it would be easy to oppose all of the recent political skullduggery. But it may not be wise.

    As Lightworkers who are here at this time to bring forth a new way of life, we are best served by seeing the perfection of it all, by seeing it in its Highest Light, as a gift that shall reveal itself in full when we no longer oppose anyone. For it is in the opposing that we continue to separate ourselves from the 100%. As long as we are are examples of peace, however, who oppose no one (lest we become just like those we oppose), we play into no one’s hands and no longer unconsciously feed the fires of the fight.

    There are many ways of playing our part in a world in the throes of change. Instead of physically butting heads and carrying guns we can make intentions. We can pray. We can hold the vision of the highest and best good at work in all situations. For too long have we wallowed deep in the angry swamplands of separations, oppositions, us vs them games, and so forth. Now, however, it is time for us to rise tall by intending, by praying, and by holding the light. Not by fighting, but by envisioning. Not by complying but by withholding our support from agendas that speak of harming anyone or anything. We’re the ones who are to stay joyful and uplifted regardless of what’s going on all around us. That’s our job. That’s what we’re here to do.

  29. winifred

    The adaptation of Bonhoeffer’s quote resonates deeply.
    For now I am mulling the private public issue over, though I do not know all the facotrs involved. I have developed an appreciation for the private contract approach, however I do not see that it serves the less fortunate who do not have the abilities or faculties to enter into a private contract themselves.
    As for cow share and herd share , which I do support, I read an earlier response to another response that said they were reaching people who were disadvantaged economically….I don’t think this has been achieved yet, at least not for folk in the city. The cost of joining some farm shares is prohibitive to some/many and in the final analysis insignificant compared to dollars assosciated with the milk marketing board. Commitment is commitment, regardless of $, and that is what Michael is saying in his approach in court regarding his own current life and work.
    There are some other thoughts I have been mulling over, but I don’t know whether they, or the above are of value posting. I don’t wish to be destructive, but rather constructive… I also do not think there is a complete solution.

    • Peter

      Hi Winifred,
      In a civil context, freedom necessarily comes with responsibility. If an individual does not have the ability or faculty to take responsibility, he/she inherently is not free, and does not have the option of civil freedom. But if one has the ability, and is willing to take responsibility, he/she can claim an element of civil freedom. IMO, it is the mind, not money, that facilitates our inalienable rights to associate and exchange. But, since Michael offers legal advise as part of his CSC education program, perhaps I should defer to him, and allow him to expound.
      As for the factors involved in understanding the private vs public, again, Michael may be better suited to expound on this, as it appears to have been an essential element in his defense (see: https://thebovine.wordpress.com/2009/01/30/michael-schmidts-closing-arguments-and-submissions-regarding-raw-milk-case-jan-29-2009/ and the section titled “Overbroad – “Private/Public”” in https://thebovine.wordpress.com/2009/07/29/michael-schmidt-and-the-crown-submit-final-arguments-in-raw-milk-case-under-the-charter-of-rights-and-freedoms/). Sections U (The purpose of the HPPA) and V (Legislative Harmonization) in the Kowarsky decision (http://www.canlii.org/eliisa/highlight.do?text=raw+milk+british&language=en&searchTitle=Search+all+CanLII+Databases&path=/en/on/oncj/doc/2010/2010oncj9/2010oncj9.html) might also be of interest to you in your contemplation of private vs. public.
      If you are required, but unable to attend CSC to attain clarity on these topics, perhaps we can just exchange points, principles, examples and ideas on it right here.

      • miro

        Peter, it can be appreciated that you have in some way brought forward a desire to gain some insight into the details of Michael’s trial that have to do with your interest in private vs. public, as in the right to make private contract. We have all had the good fortune of learning so much through public postings of the trials of Michael and those like him. Surely working together has helped everyone, even those that have outwardly been full of cirtisism. If you’re really interested, perhaps you might just call him directly and ask him yourself.

      • Peter

        Yes, that’s a good idea. I had thought, through previous commentary that he was rather busy, and fully deserving of monetary compensation for his consultation and expertise. And rightfully so, I suppose.
        I also thought that open, transparent communication of ideas here on the Bovine might be beneficial for all (including winifred?) who might want to read, contemplate, or even participate in the discussion. And if Michael would be willing to pipe in and share his insights, that would be great.

      • winifred

        Hi Peter,
        A long time in replying, I have taken! Two reasons: I have been busy. And I was wondering if there is another forum/blog you could direct me to for further discussion of these ideas. If private contracts cannot be entered into by those who are not capable (for whatever reason), then we need to establish through our government or legal system a way to provide properly for such people (they may one day be those very dear to you, such as children, injured family members, yourself, …..but must it be someone close to care about?). Do you propose to only take care of competent individuals who can soundly enter into a contract and leave the rest to the deteriorating food rules and regulations of the government ( to the wolves, as one may put it metaphorically)? Perhaps it is the ones who are unable to enter into a contract because of some limiting factor, mentally, etc., who are the very ones most in need of good food and raw milk. I see a value for both public and private approaches. To me, Michael is working for the larger community, not just the competent, and that is noble in itself. He may have also changed his tactic, but he is free to do that. It is good to be consistent, but consistency should not supersede what you think is right, or learning. How else can you learn if you are not willing to alter your ideas or course?….and the harder to do so in the public eye. Michael may (will/has ) also make some mistakes, and I won’t agree with everything but I think his heart and overall intentions are in the right place, and he has done much good. It is not simple.
        Personal Disclaimer: the comments above are not necessarily held by any of those in authority or of immense knowledge on said topics. They are the limited insights of one individual

      • Peter

        Thanks for your reply. I resonate with contemplative and inquisitive disposition.
        A contract is a product of the mind. It necessarily entails ownership of some sort. Ownership is itself a construct of the mind. Responsibility is a product of ownership, and is itself also a construct of the mind. The contemplation of cause and effect (logical deductive reasoning) all transpire in the mind. Civil freedom only exists for those who can be shown to be responsible for their actions. As such, it is directly related to the mind, and the state there of.
        If an individual does not have a “sound mind”, or has an underdeveloped mind, such that he/she is unable (in reality) to engage in contract (a signature does not prove state of mind), then he/she is unable to govern his/her own civil affairs, or be expected to make “sound” decisions.
        By default, there not being anyone else to govern them/their affairs, the responsibility rests upon the state to which they are a citizen.
        I concur that it is prudent to provide quality food to all, including those who are mentally challenged. The question is: From where is the authority derived that might give you/me the right to dictate to others (i.e. to the mentally delinquent) what constitutes quality food? Everything has a risk/reward ratio, and the decision to partake or not partake of a product/activity is entirely subjective.
        One key area to which I am continually striving to gain clarity is around raising children. It appears, more and more, that raising children is perceived by the courts as a strict liability activity… As though we have to prove competence when questioned. I mention this topic because it ties in directly with your question about finding “a way”. I can’t say I have a short answer, but some running theories.
        You asked if I propose to only take care of competent individuals. Well, I would be reserved to say I was proposing such a thing. But where the function of the court is to determine who is responsible, unless we can show how/that we are responsible for Joe Mentally Challenged, then yes, choice in food consumption is limited to those who are mentally competent. As for leaving the rest to the deteriorating food rules and regulations of the government, that is the product of our current (and seemingly beloved) “democratic process” of establishing public policy, and the general unwitting endorsement and employment of the nanny state. I would suggest that the latter is simply a function of our failure to understand the difference between rights and privileges.
        So… asking the government to legalize raw milk perpetuates the nanny state mentality, and thus perpetuates the government’s role to feed the mentally incompetent with the food “they” deem to be of adequate quality.
        If there is anything I propose, it is education about the association of rights, freedom, responsibility, and role of the government and the court. I regret that I do not have a blog to direct you to… Maybe one day I’ll get around to start one 🙂

      • Peter

        @ winifred re comments about Michael
        I fully concur that Michael’s intentions are good. However, his rhetoric itself is, imho, anything but cohesive, and neither is his conduct cohesive with his rhetoric. This is, itself, not a problem, per say. But that his conviction about raw milk and it’s merits, and his ability to produce the same, should be confused with someone who is grounded, and hence seemingly qualified to dispense with wisdom about how to be, politically, legally, or otherwise, is, imo, sad.

      • winifred

        I hope this reply replies to the correct location. Thanks for your reply Peter and for accepting and valuing questioning/disagreement. Yes, I was also considering children in my comments but did not elaborate on that for the sake of brevity. Worthy of consideration …. both children and the ideas presented!

  30. BC Food Security

    Winifred: You are right . Raw Dairy Herdshares are a small thing. One can look at it 2 ways . It is small because it is insignificant and unimportant . Or it is small because we have just planted a tiny seed and it has barely begun to sprout. I think cooperative farmshares has a potential to grow into the billions of dollars in Canada of which Raw Dairy will only be one component. Please keep in mind the heavy indoctrination the average Canadian experiences to only buy from Superstores and shopping malls . So it is bound to be an uphill climb for a long time . But it still feels right to work for this alternative business model to emerge in our society. Because it is so so small we have to try to appeal to the public on the basis of higher principles .

    Frank: That is also why I think Michael can not afford the luxury of sarcasm, cynicism or irritation on this blog.
    We have to be very grateful for every individual who supports the work as it is all in a very delicate stage. And it may still take another 5 years before it has a leg to stand on financially and legally .

    • winifred

      A long time in replying …. I was intentionally vague in one point in my post above, because I was criticizing an aspect of joining a farm share that I ironically value very much I never agreed with the reasons given for the increase in membership and I watched sad changes with long time supporters. When I read in another post a while ago that such farmshares were reaching people ….I forget how it was put…”to be made affordable and accessable to those who would otherwise not be able to afford good quality food/milk, I was going to contradict that post there and then. I didn’t because I wonder what good it woul do ….even now …. But high joining fees have made me sad because they created division and still don’t seem founded on a principle. People seem to have always stepped up tp help voluntarily if they are able to do so, especially when they respect and value something or an organization …. But high memberships divorce us from that kind of participation and leave a number of people out. No need to reply to this.

  31. Mona

    1. In my opinion, comments with ideas, concerns, questions, suggestions, praise, are not destructive in my opinion. Dismissing information, calling people down, and threatening – even if to make a point – are destructive.
    2. Real education is not having one person’s opinion repeated until you accept it. Education is learning all that one can learn about subjects – and verbs for that matter. If an article brings up a subject in one comment relative to, say, the area of Public vs Private and that subject is brought up in a comment, then would it not be best to respond to that subject, not the person bringing it up – if you are going to respond at all. If the subject is a concern, say, about the chances of the government taking over what CSC is hoping to create and maintain internally, then would it not be best to consider and write on that subject if you are going to write at all? In many comments, I believe, there is a seed that stirs some food for thought and causes the reader to think about what they actually know about the subject, and hopefully open them up to look for more knowledge.
    In BC Food Security’s comment was written: “For it is in the opposing that we continue to separate ourselves from the 100%. As long as we are examples of peace, however, who oppose no one (lest we become just like those we oppose), we play into no one’s hands and no longer unconsciously feed the fires of the fight.” That is so true. It is my observation that discussing views and ideas that are different is not opposing anyone, but supporting truth and awareness. I find that the opposition that I have witnessed happening in these comments have been more personal defensiveness – and am glad there are relatively few – because I feel that being a small community in a large society, we are well to learn from each other. I appreciate that Michael has chosen to stand and fight the system’s as they are in his own ways because I learn a lot about how the system works and what doesn’t work. He is making his own stand, but being focused on, here on the Bovine, I can learn and educate myself in relation to what he does, how he chooses to proceed; and I can gain more knowledge as I consider it in relationship with what I know and what I believe in. I appreciate other people expressing their view points and knowledge in the comments; so that I may learn from them. I enjoy that people have differing ideas and views and can express them in the comments. On occasion I think, why hadn’t I thought of that yet myself? Surely other’s have also had similar ‘aha’ moments.
    e can not help but know what we know because that is the digestion of all the information we have accumulated in our mind and senses. Thus that is what we know to be true right now. But one new piece of information can change all that which we were sure that we knew, and challenge what we have believed to be true. Also, a thousand new pieces of information can add to what we believe to be true and fortify that as our knowledge. It is my opinion that if we want to be knowledgeable, we need to be open to consider more ideas and information and digest it. The comments allow for this and I am thankful for it.

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