Michael interviews Michael Schmidt, reflecting on the occasion of one million visits to this blog.
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.
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 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.
Michael: You are welcome, it is always a great exercise to confront yourself with questions many are afraid to ask.