Michael Schmidt’s further reflections on the merits of raw milk debates; June 4 Sustain Ontario raw milk debate

From raw milk farmer and advocate Michael Schmidt:

Michael Schmidt at the recent Minnesota rally. Photo Jennifer Lindahl

Before we get too far into this we should remind everybody that there is an upcoming raw milk debate via webinar, at “Sustain Ontario” on June 4th. Here’s the link to sign up for live participation:  http://sustainontario.com/2012/05/22/10428/blog/news/the-udder-truth-an-opening-dialogue-on-the-risks-and-opportunities-of-unpasteurized-milk

Reflections on my last Reflection

Predictions, interpretations and accusations are always an entertaining mix.

I read with interest the reactions and have to admit, may be people read something different than I had intended to write.

I like the famous saying, ” do not judge people what they say but what they do”.

If anyone tries to interpret my reflections as criticism then I like to ask all the freedom fighters where is freedom of expression.

I did receive recommendations what I should write or say and what I should not say and may be even think.

Great. Freedom suddenly does not appear anymore as the the golden solution to all our problems.

Freedom is , I guess, when you do or not do what the freedom fighters want you to do.

Again that might be too confusing for many.

Let me get back to the original question I raised.

Are debates about the merits of raw milk overrated?

In my opinion it is a valid question, which does not at all contain any disrespect for the work which has been put into organizing this event.

Following closely the raw milk discussion across North America and spending considerable time exploring the issue of how to be most efficient in regards to reaching a “tangible goal” I am surprised about the huff and puff here and on Facebook.

Sometimes I wonder even if people just like to get all worked up about issues without looking at the big picture.

In 1994 after our first raw milk raid a consumer initiative was formed and announced how they will lobby, educate and inform public and politicians  so that the law can be changed.

The group disappeared quietly because it was and never is  a matter of presentations and info packages to politicians. It is a long stony road.

Yes we did it all, in 2006 ,2007, 2008.

Thousand of pages, DVDs, PDF files from raw milk legislation of other countries, follow up calls and individual visits to MPPs and MPs.

Annual press conference at Queens Park to keep the press and the Premier and all the MPPs involved and informed.

Was it worth it? Yes it was.

Should we do it again? That is the question.

The dairy industry will match our efforts 1,000 times. If anyone wants to try, go ahead.

We have nothing in place to stand united.

As soon one talks about standards, training and quality control, freedom cries foul.

Yes what about small operators with one or two cows.

Everyone has a choice.

But we do need to understand that building the foundation of credibility is  only one small step towards being heard by those in power.

We can wave research papers in support of raw milk and the other side will drown us in research papers about the dangers.

It is a pissing match.

Will we get anything revealing out of this debate? Not at all. Time is too short.

There is a big difference between being realistic or being  negative.

The issue is far too complex to even think that this debate will enlighten the world.

As I tried to say before. In all public polls done in the last 6 years about raw milk all of them indicated support for freedom to choose at over 75 %.

So why waisting energy on the issue of safety and benefits rather on how we can change the law or how we can function within or outside of the current regulatory structure.

To get back to the question, does freedom mean you can drive on the road as you wish either on the left or the right lane, ignore red lights, or stop signs?

We have rights and responsibilities.

I start with responsibility and then assert my right based on credibility.

May you all have another round of fun with my reflections.

By the way I am not frustrated, depressed or disillusioned, I am just fascinated how divided we are, just as the Government wants us to be.

I smell freedom.

Warm regards



Filed under News

47 responses to “Michael Schmidt’s further reflections on the merits of raw milk debates; June 4 Sustain Ontario raw milk debate

  1. nedlud

    Papers, please.

    More papers.

    More papers.


    (More and more procedures {and taxes and fees and penalties}, as outlined by more and more and more papers and files and regulations. All to be examined, interpreted and utilized by proper authorities to determine ‘what to do’ next and in each case thereafter; and also to be adjusted and added to by said proper authorities and/or hidden away, as necessary, for ‘security’ reasons:)


    Have a nice day.

    I smell shit.


  2. Dave

    I agree Michael “divide and conquer”, it works every time!

    • Peter

      In my opinion, respect for individual liberty (freedom) unites people, and so long as individuals continue to carry themselves, and see others as groups (my group is right, and your group is wrong), the divide and concur methodology works well, in deed.

  3. miro malish

    What I don’t understand is what the point is of presenting these thoughts to everyone in such a way. They seem to be doing the exact thing that you have been saying is futile. Talk talk talk without having any specific goal or initiative.

    How might it be helpful? Perhaps come to the issues presented with something constructive or to contribute, for those that are continuing on with the work or maintaining or bringing awareness to the issue. Like for instance, this was what was done, when, who was involved, what was the outcome, and most importantly what could have been done differently.

    Now is a different time, with different people involving different forces. Let those carrying the torch, holding the intent alive be encouraged with supportive participation. It is not to say that there is not concerns about outcomes, or if the time is well spent. Please, for god’s sake, honor the impulse in the hearts of others and either offer some help, encouragement, support and be conscious of the effects of your weighed opinions. Not anyone will have there loose commentary posted on this Blog, especially twice on the same subject back to back.

    Yes, you have put forward your efforts over the years, no one is denying that. What effects everyone belongs to everyone and the raw milk issue is just as much ours as it is yours.

    • Miro are we now into the subject of ownership issue of the raw milk cause.
      I always expressed my thoughts like everybody else seems to do here on the blog and that will not change.
      Let’s be clear, I have not stopped anybody to become active in the cause.
      To claim the right to leadership of this cause is itself a rather strange move considering the grss roots nature of this movement.
      It is great that people take on initiatives, at the same time it can only be beneficial to recognize an inclusive strategy and not a selective strategy.
      To intentionally separate for personal reasons the past and ignore the many actions by others( I am not talking about me) is rarely a fertile ground for the future.

      • Peter

        “…ownership issue of the raw milk cause”. If you don’t mind me asking… where did that come from? I didn’t read anything in Miro’s comments (past or present) pointing to that. It has been my experience that Miro has always presented himself as professional, well spoken, and honorable to the cause of raw milk. Never have I seen him insinuate ownership of the cause. Has Miro been holding up a mirror, or something?
        “I have not stopped anybody to become active in the cause”. That you make the statement, especially without anybody suggesting you did, implies an underlying energy/desire to do so. In deed, much of your past commentary that “we should all stand united in your camp or the cause will/might fail” might be construed as sufficient motive for the same.
        I suppose I am glad we live in a country where the authority to stop another from participating in the raw milk cause is not vested in the citizenry.

      • miro malish

        I do not believe we are now into exploring issues of ownership. I think that the issues of ownership have always been part of the raw milk cause, and any cause for that matter.
        What seems to occur, is that when people start to take action toward something, they identify with that action through self. They identify themselves in that action and take ownership of that. Severing oneself from the act takes a special human capacity and awareness, keeping the nature of social action in mind ( in respect to the pitfalls of identification of social action) can be helpful.
        At the crux of the issues of social action is consciousness. Failing to embody or to embrace a mindset of human development into our work with others tends to lead us down to the laberinth of blind individualism and futility.

        “It is great that people take on initiatives, at the same time it can only be beneficial to recognize an inclusive strategy and not a selective strategy.”

        Michael, can you expand on this sentence? You seem to have belittled notions of inclusivity in the past (as some kind of waste of time pandering to everyone, that one can not please everyone) , and so I am confused both with you making the statement ( is this a new revelation for you?) , and what you mean by it (what selective strategy?).

    • BC Food Security

      Michael : Have you ever thought of taking a well-deserved sabbatical in the Tropics or whereever ? Every visionary needs downtime to recharge him/herself with new inspiration and purpose not to mention self-healing .

    • Raoul

      Miro : Your ideas are good here . I would take it a step further and suggest that Brother Michael take a step back from the battle , so to speak, and compile all his activist experiences, hire a professional English editor, and then create an e-book or two . And , yes , charge real money for it as well by marketing it on his website. YOU CAN DO IT MICHAEL !

  4. When one is trying to manifest something really visionary, constructive, new and big in the world REPETITION is absolutely needed – like it or not. As the momentum for change builds REPETITION is needed more not less . This is a METAPHYSICAL PRINCIPLE beyond any religion or opinion or belief system. ONe can not say that I did it once therefore there is no need to do it again . Or worse, ” I did it once therefore nobody else has the right to try the same or a similar approach now and in future ” . It is too bad if repetition seems mindless and boring and a “waste of energy ” at times . What is the alternative ? To twist people’s and government’s arms by force ? That would not be too democratic or “FREE ” a thing to do for so-called “Freedom Fighters ” would it ? Certainly that is the government’s approach : “We made our decision 30 or 50 years ago about banning raw milk so we do not have to listen or dialog with anybody with new understandings and research and if you disagree we will confiscate your assets and/or put you in jail !”

  5. Nadine Ijaz

    Thank you Michael, this is for me a very helpful clarification of a position which incorporates a long-range, and very broad view. It highlights a tension that exists not just here but in other movements (such as midwifery and herbal medicine) where questions about freedom of practice come into tension with issues of public access, and legality. Such a tension is inevitably permanent, I feel – as participants in no movement will ever reach full agreement on such issues. The massage therapy movement has an interesting model, which I’ll term ‘inclusive regulation’, in which a substantial subgroup (“Registered Massage Therapists”, or RMTs) successfully lobbied for regulation, with a rigorous and standardized training model; but do not ‘own’ the ‘right’ to massage others exclusively, thus allowing for a wide diversity of bodywork practitioners practicing independently free from persecution. Members of the public who seek the credentialed RMT practitioner know what they are getting; whereas others who seek other styles of practitioner can judge for themselves on an individual basis the risk they would like to take. Could our ‘raw milk’ movement in Canada not aim for something similar – a multilayered future of legality, an inclusive regulation model – in three primary, co-existing parts. 1. Large-scale (federally-legalized) raw milk sales, inevitably produced in a somewhat more ‘industrial’ mode (such as Organic Pastures), and accessible safely on a large scale; 2. a self-regulated medium-scale herdshare system (i.e. Cow Share Canada or the like) in which farms apply for certification according to an established model without participating in a quota model, are ultimately protected within provincial laws, and are able to advertise to members of the public who seek a closer relationship to their farmer; and, importantly, 3. a leave-farmer-alone stipulation based on Charter rights for very small-scale producers who make personal arrangements with members of their community but do not wish to certify for whatever reason.

    • BC Food Security

      Nadine: Thank you for redirecting the discussion in the direction of something concrete, specific , proactive and visionary . This is where we need to put our energy and focus to finally succeed. This is the real higher purpose of the Canadian Raw Milk Webinar and Discussion on June 4, 2012. Everything else is secondary.

      • I agree BC Food Security. Nadine’s reply is constructive and has really good ideas and constructive solutions to ponder. We do need to put our energy and focus on concrete ideas and visions and go forward with them.

    • Brad

      Really like this idea. It opens up a lot of options for small scale farmers,and addresses the fears that if the government gets control of regulating the raw milk industry, that they will regulate the small producers out of business. Let the goverment regulate the big commercial players that will enter the market,( should it open up ) and sell in stores. Let the mid sized operations that sell directly to the consumer be self regulated by the producers, and let the little guys do what they want. They will be small scale and totally accountable to their customers.

      Thanks for the input, this idea could end the infighting between the total food freedom people, and the regulated access people

      • miro malish

        Brad, this concept of ingraining scope of activity into our governmental system is long overdue. The big players are running the show by means of the use of absolutism, where the rule for the small start-up is the same for the global national (or the other way around depending on the need of those who have the power). I think, that while I agree whole heartedly that scope (size of operation) should determine regulatory activity, to assume that suddenly without first opening this cleft in regulation, the use of ABSOLUTE shall be used once more.

        The door has been opened to self regulation within a variety of industries and most notably in the food production. Our present government and international impulse is toward privatization of regulatory bodies. Here is our chance! Failing to answer the call and urgency may mean the loss of the opportunity to participate in the development of what we wish for and want. As, the NGO associative economic sphere is primarily monopolistic and oligarchical at best. So once a body is in place it is often questioned why there should exist another?

        The stalling or failure to move forward and develop a credible organization is the greatest risk in this whole affair. (Note: this is not to say that CSC is without a credible standard and so forth, only to suggest that such a body has to meet certain recognized criteria to able to fully defend its existance from attack) Allowing it to only serve the present moment and no other, may seem wise from the narrow view of the needs of those involved (CSC producers) but from the point of view of a long term strategy? We received top notch consultation worth a whole lot more then we, as a group paid for other information from other consultation, only to ignore it entirely down the stretch. A complete outline was worked out toward manifesting this organization as credible, and something that no politician, academic, or regulator could deny. Somehow, and quite unfortunatly the work in that direction has been put aside.

  6. Carol

    Nadine,the RMT did successfully lobby in Ontario but not all other provinces. This however, has a down side. Many other types of massage such as Aromatherapy Massage,Chinese types etc cannot use the words even though they are very qualified in their field despite the fact you eluded to the fact that RMT’s had standards etc and as far as the rest goes one would take their chances in acquiring their services. It is my opinion that is not a true fact but would suggest that RMT’s made a smart political move alining themselves with Conventional Medical establishment. It does not mean for one minute they are better or the monopoly on the words “massage Therapist” is good for the industry.
    As for milk, why does it have to be so complicated now. For years people just went to a farmer got their milk and what ever else he/she wanted. They paid or perhaps they traded services. We never asked permission. Since it is legal to drink raw milk and not to buy it why can you not trade services. I guess I will continue to take my little black bag to my source, get my milk and do some favors in return or if the need be I will buy a cow and give it to the farmer to look after. He will benefit and so will I. I learned many years ago, life is not fair. I can get milk but I cannot take the subway!!
    I hope you get out of the webinar what you hope.I am not aware about the goal Sustain Ontario and Margo’s group hope to make.To me it will be just another choir practice.
    Margo, you say you are speaking on your own but once you are representing an Organization it is difficult separating the too. It would be like David Suzuki speaking as an independent. It just does not work.

    • Carol, we are all working together and I need to specify when I am speaking my own opinion so that the misunderstanding doesn’t happen that people think that the whole group feels the same way. Unless we have discussed something specifically and I know that the group agrees with me 100% I will always specify that it is my opinion alone. We have an interesting mix of people with different ideas on how they want to see raw milk legalized/allowed/tolerated/left alone etc. People who can work together towards a common goal and are mature enough to make it work. It’s a pleasure to be part of such an awesome group. The way to make such a diverse group work is to not speak for the group but for oneself sometimes.

  7. One little Alberta Farmer

    Michael I hear you re the research papers in support of raw milk and the pissing match that will come from it.
    What I don’t understand is why you stand fast to the idea that your way is the only way.
    A foundation could indeed regulate raw milk and train those providing it. That is not going to get rid of the small producers, who have no interest in training or a set of standards that may or may not fit their operation. Many farmers, quota farmers and non quota farmers are proving raw milk across Canada, we have yet to see the country fall due to raw milk poisoning because those proving the raw milk had no training.
    While it would be nice for everyone to come together under one banner re raw milk, it will never happen. While most are after the same end goal, the steps that are taken to reach that end goal are vastly different.
    It should be up to the farmer who is providing the raw milk to take the necessary steps to ensure the milk is safe. Whatever those steps may be. It should be up to the consumer to find a farmer they are comfortable with, to provide them with raw milk.
    The raw milk situation in Canada should be a private affair between farmer and consumer.

    On a side note not to start a war, but the consumer needs to understand they DO NOT have a right to raw milk. Only those who own the cows have a right to raw milk. It is a courtesy for the farmer to provide consumers will raw milk. Consumers need to start remembering that!

    • Peter

      Agreed. The consumer has the right to choose, but the consumer does not have a right to buy product from a farmer. It is the right of the farmer to choose whether he/she sells his/her wares to someone else.
      Curious, however, why this was brought up. I’m failing to see the relevance…

      • miro malish

        Hold on a minute. A courtesy? Really? Is it also a courtesy to sell my garlic to those that wish to buy it? Or is it more a courtesy for me to sell it to a wishful consumer when there is little garlic on the market? And having a market, is it then by my courtesy to sell another farmers garlic, like my amish neighbors who don’t have access to run to the big city every week? There is an exchange that occurs and its up to the people involved to determine what is fair based on their criteria and circumstance.

        Part two. From the standpoint of selling raw milk to consumers, where it is being questioned in the courts and presented to the public as being against the Milk Act to do so, perhaps the use of the word courtesy may be applied, much like the manner in which people appreciated buying their pot in the 70’s, thankful someone was taking the risk so they can get what they want. The dealer meanwhile was not charging the price as tobacco, and likewise the raw milk producer is charging a premium for a item that is in high demand.
        But, in most cases raw milk producers are operating cow share operations. Where, the CONSUMER is fronting the money to buy the cow, and paying the farmer as agister, where is there room for courtesy? I certainly hope that those people that should write such things, I suspect being raw milk producers, have the integrity to do so under their real name so that those who consume their product have a clear sense of just how they are being appreciated. If you feel that the risk is far greater then the return then perhaps seek out a fair exchange and develop some mutual courtesy.
        I realize that my words are strong here. But I have been offended by this attitude of expectation, cloaking the fear of loosing control to the other, spawning such unnecessary division and conflict amongst those that need more then ever to be united.

      • Peter

        @ Miro
        Forgive me… I can’t say I clearly understood you, however, I believe we aren’t necessarily disagreeing. Perhaps just technicalities/verbiage. You used the word courtesy… I’m not sure I’d use that word. I would be more inclined to use the word privilege.
        Technically speaking, if in fact I had the right to buy an item from you, then you wouldn’t have the right to deny me. That would set up the scenario that I could simply walk up to you and say I am buying that watch you’re wearing. The owner of property has the right to sell his wares, and therefore inherently has the right not to sell it. As such, it is a privilege for the consumer to buy it. As such, just be cause I have a cow does not mean you have the right to buy the milk from it.
        Now, I can see that, in another sense, the consumer does have the right to purchase, but perhaps the clarification comes in whether the owner has offered the item for sale in the first place. I believe “One little Farmer In Alberta” was merely pointing out that it might be appropriate for consumers to properly appreciate that the producer is sticking out his/her neck (like the pot dealer in the 70’s) in offering milk/cows in the first place. In that sense, the consumer is privileged to buy the product… It isn’t a right.
        Now, under cow share contracts, it depends on what the contract says. In the same way that a cow share contract might identify who the owner of the calf is, so it might be for the milk. Just cause I have a share in a cow does not inherently give me the right to the milk. Again, look at the details of the contract (if there are any 🙂
        Hope that clarifies it a bit.

    • Without consumers willing to pay $3-$4 a litre for this milk the farmer would have no market. This conversation is ridiculous.

  8. http://www.thecompletepatient.com/article/2012/june/1/bans-raw-milk-have-worked-so-well-why-not-extend-them-junk-food-debating-debates

    This sum’s it up nicely from David Gumpert’s Blog today :

    “There’s a debate on raw milk upcoming in Canada on Monday, and to go along with it, a debate about the debate.

    Canadian dairyman Michael Schmidt has expressed doubts about the usefulness of debates modeled on the one I participated in at the Harvard Law School last February.

    “In a way I agree with previous comments, why should we at all even engage in the debate, how we can get the law changed to have the right granted to us to obtain raw milk?” he wrote a few days ago on The Bovine.

    I (David Gumpert) appreciate his frustration, that the general debate format isn’t necessarily useful for resolving anything substantive concerning raw milk and food rights in general. But it is useful for educating people who aren’t familiar with the subject and all its complexity. That’s why regulators tend to shy away from participating in these events—they don’t want to educate the public. In the meantime, nearly 20,000 people have viewed the Harvard debate. Lots of good learning going on. “

    • Insightful as usual David Gumpert. I think it’s awesome that so many people have watched the Harvard debate so far. As Raoul says way down this thread, a multidimensional approach is going to help in many ways. Just knowing that nearly 20,000 people have watched that wonderful debate is very encouraging! The numbers are certainly growing and every bit of information shared is helpful to the long term goal. Thank you for advertising this debate for us and for sharing this important piece of information with all of us.

  9. Peter

    “If anyone tries to interpret my reflections as criticism then I like to ask all the freedom fighters where is freedom of expression.”
    Huh?! Seriously?!
    I did not see any commentary here suggesting that freedom of expression does not include criticism. Is there something somewhere suggesting that your commentary did not fall within the proper bounds of “freedom of expression”? I think we are all grateful for your free expression, criticism and all. I believe many of us are growing in appreciation of all your colors.
    Anyway, seems to me you have not been denied freedom of expression. I myself don’t see how you have been done wrong by the commentary of others. Criticism by others of your post is itself more “freedom of expression”. Seems to me this board is alive and well… full of freedom of expression. So… thanks for sharing 🙂

  10. I went through the CowShare Canada training and accreditation and it was worth the effort. I encourage other small producers to do the same. No matter what, this is one course we can stick to. We need to produce a uptodate document of accreditation procedure and make it easy for the cooperative minded start-up farmers to join in. After all, raw milk production on a small scale is a financial gamechanger for the small diversified (usually organic) farmstead. It actually makes it possible to earn a decent living caring for the land and producing local nutritious chemical-free food.

    I think repetition and citizen education are dreary necessities. I applaud the Webinar debate because I believe the opposition relies heavily on ‘activist fatigue’ to predictably bring about the failure of their cause, in this case, free legal access to uncooked milk. So the movement, (still really too small, imo, to warrant being called such in Canada at least), will have to expect to buckle down for the long haul, if we hope to see an exemption from the regulatory thicket that now large outfits and powerful people (not just in the dairy industry) have come to rely on to protect their interests and investments. That means webinar after webinar, endless posts on Bovine, articles and testimonials, occasionally events that punctuate the mainstream media tunnel, etc., etc.

    Strategy category # 2: don’t resist the way they expect you to resist. Long ago in business school I studied Saul Alinsky, labour rights activist in Chicago and elsewhere, author of Rules For Radicals. (I wonder if we were exposed to Alinsky in order to sow the seeds of countering activism?). But the point I want to make is Alinsky studied and practised activism by the powerless, or at least the less powerful, and was able to get results. Guerrilla tactics to gum up the works was one such. If we are not prepared to work in this way, sobeit, but the journey becomes tenuous at best. (TPTB know they can outgun us and outwait us.) (Also read Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States,etc. for how tough the battle is, but skirmishes at least can be won.)

    Which leaves third category of strategy besides persistent publicity/public education; and guerrilla actions to trigger change.which is lay low, don’t rock the boat, show up and quietly disappear, etc. This one has an appealing ‘low effort low imput benefit, but of questionable impact.

    Another category would seem to me to be negotiate a truce (a non-starter imo) and get a small piece of what we want in return for compliance with regulations, in other words, a form of appeasement.

    Yet another, is what I see CSC started out to be, namely build a constituency, largely of consumer, since they will always vastly outnumber producers, obviously, and motivate this group to speak up and bring pressure to bear on authorities to ‘do the right thing’. So far this strategy has not borne fruit,imo and it seems either we are impatient or unwilling to see the endgame in plain sight, which is that consumers will not, in large enough numbers, stand up for food rights, specifically raw milk. So if we are impatient, then stay the course. Get more consumer members of cowshare plans to sign up, even give them memberships, or add a small surcharge on the liter agister fees, whatever it takes. (I know we are suffering from lack of financial resources too of course, so what else is new for disestablishment entities). Building a constituency is in part education, but different in that we don’t spend any resources on the uncommitted, just the ones already convinced of the health merits of raw milk and or the necessity of making milk the ‘poster child’ of the food freedom movement.

    In the end struggles are won with a multiplicity of strategies, each according to its relevancy to conditions at hand.

    endnote: I had no intention of writing much at all when I read this thread on the merits of raw milk debate, but it grew on me. I hope this contributes to thinking holistically and strategically about the next steps in this endeavour.

    • Ian, I took Cow Share College 1 and 2 as a consumer, and you are right. It is an awesome program and I recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the ins and outs of raw milk production from the consumer side as well.

  11. Raoul

    Ian : Thank you for your outstanding, fresh and lively inputs and new ideas (much needed I might add ) . I agree and am of the opinion that a multipronged , multidimensional and decentralized approach is the healthiest approach. I also call it the “thousand headed monster” approach to confronting destructive authority .
    It looks like the little June 4, 2012 Webinar /Discussion/ Debate has already triggered a lively debate right here on the Bovine ! But more importantly there are (finally ) the seeds of solutions embedded in it (for those who want it and are ready to actually look for it ) and not just more “talk,talk,talk ” . Sometimes we get so used to (if not addicted to ) problems without solutions that we miss it when a solution is finally waved right under our noses.

    I am 100% clear and certain that the Monday June 4,12 Sustain Ontario Webinar is a major breakthrough in the , otherwise arduous and time-consuming process we have observed . The solution is not a “goal” as an “unfolding process ” . Yes, I know the “goal” is legal raw milk in Canada but what does that really mean in terms of “process ” ?

    • Thank you Nadine, Raoul, Mirko and Ian and the rest of you for your insights and suggestions. I agree with Raoul that we are starting to see some real progress in finding solutions to this issue. Sometimes it takes disagreement to start the creative juices flowing and that seems to be happening now. That, to me, is a huge step forward! A multi-faceted approach to any issue is the most proactive way to go forward in my opinion. The ideas here will be helpful for the working group to discuss as we go forward and yes Ian I think we all know that we will need to buckle down for the long haul and with so many educated and awesome people on board to lend constructive ideas and criticisms that help steer back on course, we will succeed at this. Thank you for your commentary. I value the insights. I hope that other groups will spring up to help with this and to expand the vision. We need as many strong activists as we can get and it doesn’t matter if they have different ideas of how this can get done. As Raoul says, we need a multidimensional approach to this, people willing to do the work to create change and people willing to work together even if they have differing ideas, because the end goal is the same no matter how you slice it. There is always room on our working group for strong activists with ideas on how to manifest this change so if someone wants to help let me know. This has been a very helpful thread to read and I thank all of you for your comments.

  12. BC Food Security

    The In’s and Out’s of Comment-Making

    What is fascinating here is if one were to make a general analysis of the comments (not commenters ) in this grand old blog , 4 broad classifications emerge :

    1 .VISIONARY – These comments offer solutions and are action-oriented and highly specific in their remedies and suggestions . An example of this would be Nadine’s or Ian’s or Miro’s comments in this thread .

    2. SUPPORTIVE – These comments do not offer any new ideas in themselves, but they offer support ($,resources, volunteer time , connections ) to build on the Visionary comments and ideas previously presented, or , at the very least, they try to inject “positive emotion” into the conversation. An example would be some of Margo’s or Raoul’s comments in this thread.

    3 . UNRELATED – These comments, while harmless and innocent in themselves, have little to do with the topic at hand. Or if they do they tend to overfocus on unimportant details. These comments may be a bore to read . They may also even be entertaining to read and they may even give you some kind of a mental buzz. . On the down side, these comments may prove to be a waste of everybody’s time and distract from the overall focus and intent of the thread. They tend to muddy the waters too much and cause people to rapidly lose interest in the thread or topic at hand . In this particular thread an example of this would be some of Peter’s comments .

    4. DESTRUCTIVE – These comments tend to be overanalytical, insulting (or worse threatening ) , hypercritical and patronizing and never offer any constructive alternatives in place of the original ideas attacked. They may also have little to do with the topic at hand and simply be an exercise in purposely injecting “negative emotion ” into the forum. These comments tend to attack or criticize other commenters instead of the ideas presented . The people offering these comments may be unconscious of this tendency as a function of their own mental /emotional dysfunction i.e due to drug,alcohol or other abuse ,senility or other mental illness etc. or they may doing it deliberately as part of some agenda to pollute the constructive agenda of the blog. An example would be a government agent , a dairy lobby representative or a representative of the corporate chemical, GMO or Factory farming industry.

    I wish to emphasize that criticism , in itself , does not make a comment “destructive” . It is when it tends become excessively personal and fails to offer a constructive alternative in its place that its value diminishes.

    This valuation scheme is somewhat subjective. For example , many people may find the above article by Michael Schmidt to be visionary(Category 1 ) in its nature and content while others may read it as a lot of “hot air” (category 3 ) .

    May you all have fun with these classifications and find them useful ! It actually can prove to be useful as a time-saving device as well as certain individuals who tend to be stuck in Category 3 and 4 are rarely able to make the leap to Category 1 or 2 no matter how many opportunities they are given to do so ! So if you are short of time you can probably safely skip those comments without actually missing anything !

  13. Carol

    “On a side note not to start a war, but the consumer needs to understand they DO NOT have a right to raw milk. Only those who own the cows have a right to raw milk. It is a courtesy for the farmer to provide consumers with raw milk. Consumers need to start remembering that!” I think this is a very worth while statement. This is true whether milk will be sold legally or not. It is my conclusion after reading a great deal on this site and other blogs that some people have forgot this and it has become what the consumer wants and how the farmer must comply. It is my opinion that the only rights the raw milk consumer has is the right to choose the farmer that best meets their lists of must haves and the farmer agrees to sell his product to them. I have seen statements presented that suggest the cows must not be artificially inseminated as one of the requirements. Wow, need I say more.Consumers and farmers are and will continue to differ in their wants and needs so why do many of you want all this regulation.I am sure most farmers do not and let me make myself clear, I do not think of a 2 cow operation as a farmer or a farm.In the horse industry they call it a hobby farm!
    One last thought, sometimes I think some of you think the idea of raw milk and wholesome food is a new idea, well, I hate to inform you that many of us grew up and raised our children on this food plus adding to that no vaccinations were given. We did not ask permission, we took it as our right.

    Some of you related you took Cow Share College and I am certain you learned lots but like raising children what you take in a School and read in books many time is a world apart from reality. Remember Spock, with all his ideas about how children should be raised and that outcome?

    You as consumers can make all the wish list you want but remember there is a farmer in that equation and they may or may not want none of this.

    • miro malish

      Interesting Carol that you used artificial insemination as an example. However, I think it is misplaced. I can say this as I have posted about it as a topic of discussion and can attest that it was something brought up, not by consumers but by raw milk producers.
      I personally stand in a place of having a farm, working toward cow share operation and as a member of a buying co-operative of cow share owners.

      The apparent contrast between consumer and producer, while seeming to be in conflict are really two sides of the same thing, and offer such benefits to each other. People just want healthy wholesome nourishing food and the means to assess that and make an informed choice.

      As resources dwindle, and the population continues to grow we can be certain that the social challenge of determining access, while attempting to uphold values of equity and social responsibility will increase. Holding out with ideas of freedom, that are paticular to times of the past may well fail by virtue of the rising tide of disparity. We need to ask ourselves what we really mean by freedom and applied to who and under what situation. For me personally, I wish for the freedom to participate in the shaping of our common rights and their articulation.

      Everyone, myself included, loves to cry FREEDOM. The sages of time have said that Freedom and Responsibility go hand and hand, Freedom in the absence of Responsibility will absolutly lead to corruption. You and I are no different then all those others that we love to hate and point the finger at, that limit our dreams and put rock on our path.

    • “Carol” you sound very much like someone I know who is not “Carol”. What about this concept? What if the consumers that are part of this initiative want to help their farmers be safe as they provide us with milk? I know that was my highest priority at the outset of this and it is that of a number of the people on the working group. I’m sure those who are sending in the petitions are looking to help their farmers and those hundreds of people who have helped Michael and are now helping the farmers in the US have the same agenda. These are to a large extent consumers. You keep trying to pit farmer against consumer in your posts and in that scenario everyone loses. The majority of farmers I’ve met have been reasonable and friendly people who see consumers as the reason for their market and are happy for this two way exchange. That is the way it is in any successful business transaction regardless of the product traded. Those with negative attitudes who judge, complain and try to cause problems are the ones who eventually have no market if they are a farmer or no product if they are a consumer. Why don’t we look for solutions instead of trying to cause discord as Category 4 of BC Food Securities wonderful posting suggests.

  14. Robert Bright

    Wow. I am happily amazed at the quantitiy and quality of discussion this has generated. I would like to thank everyone who posted here for their sincere thoughts, ideas, and criticisms. And I commend you, Michael, for the amount of passion and enthusiasm you have triggered here. (There is so much here to think about I am going to have to print this off and read it over a few times.)

    I can’t possibly give a detailed response to all the information here (or I’d be here for 5 hours or more!) and a truly thoughtful response is required. There are so many really good, well thought out, and clearly expressed ideas and questions here. I simply have to go off and digest all this.

  15. Carol

    Margo you say,”What about this concept? What if the consumers that are part of this initiative want to help their farmers be safe as they provide us with milk? “Interesting concept but from reading many of these posts it is more like you want to tell farmers how you see them being safe. I think you would see it a little problematic if a group of people stared telling you how to do your job under the guise of “helping to make you safer”. Remember many farmers have degrees in Agriculture as well many years of hands on experience. Some have lived all there life on a dairy farm. They also have to abide by government regulation. I assume the farmers you speak of are operating under a Cow Share type arrangement which at this time has no such government regulation with regular unannounced inspections The Cow Share operations also do not have to pay for a quota which happens to be approximately $25,000 to $30,000 per cow. Unfortunately, many of you have the impression that all farmers that operate legally under the quota system have unhealthy cows and unhealthy milk with no facts to back it up. This is the only way to sell your milk legally at this time but there is absolutely no reason that these same “Quota” farmers could not sell their “RAW”milk directly to the consumer if it were made legal to do so. In fact, many people for years have obtained such milk. However,I have noticed many farmers who willingly would let you obtain milk from them for years will no longer because of the attention the Cow Share court case and the continuing debate has brought.

    • frustrated farmer

      That $25 000 per cow quota you purchase also guarantees you a market for your product. And your product is picked up at your farm. And get regular milk cheques.
      A cow share program has no such guarantee, as the farmer must actively market their product.

      It could be like this: farmers with quota cannot sell raw milk as they already have a guaranteed purchaser. If a farmer does not have quota and would like to sell raw milk, let them do it. But if they are not able to, then don’t expect the dairies to purchase it.

      As retirement for older dairy farmers creeps up (and we know the many of the next generation is not going to take on that debt load to farm) there will be room in the marketplace for both types of farms.
      We all lament about the price of starting or taking over a dairy farm but allowing the sale of raw milk takes away a big chunk of that start up cost.

      Check out this site and scroll down to see their contracts between farmer and consumer: http://jamesranch.net/milk/

      Milk and its products could generate a real nice revenue for some smaller farms while providing consumers with a choice. If we want anything to change it will need to be consumer driven.

      • Carol

        Frustrated Farmer,I am confused about what you and many others mean by small farmers. What exactly does that mean? As it stands now do you think it just that I have to spend thousands of dollars in quota to sell my milk, have all kinds of regulation on top of that costing more mega dollars and then a Cow Share farmer can come along so far with NO regulation and extra cost and sell his/her milk? In some cases not even the expense of a milk house.?As I said before on this blog how does your consumer know your milk is any safer than mine.They do NOT. Do you sell your milk to that unsuspecting consumer even though the “Counts” are suspect? I would suspect so. I am tired of the same old rhetoric that quota farmers do not produce healthy milk and you know so much better but hey,with the new trade agreements coming down the pipe you nor I will have to worry about any of it as the Quota system will be gone and like in the USA farmers will no longer be able to farm as they will no longer get a decent return for their investment so there will be fewer. If you are indeed a real farmer you know what has happened to those foods that do not have a quota such as pork & beef. Many farmers have lost their shirts and the middle man is the one getting rich. When the farmers were getting almost $0 dollars for their pork did you see the price of bacon go down?? NO!!!! Farmers have difficult enough time making a living we do not need to pit against each other. I could say considerable more but there is hay to get in!!

  16. frustrated farmer

    Hi Carol,
    We don’t sell raw milk.
    We believe in supply management and do not want to see 10000 cow dairies in Canada like it is now the norm in the US. We try to support supply management in discussions by liking it to fair trade products: heavily regulated and the producer receives a fair price for their product.

    I did not mean to imply that “quota farmers” produce unhealthy milk, and if someone wanted to produce and sell raw milk, it is would be nice if there were labs available where the producer could take their milk on a regular basis to have the counts checked.

    When I say “small farm”, I perhaps should have used the term “small diversified farm”. Perhaps one that is already selling other products directly to the consumer (beef, pork, vegetables). I say this because people who buy directly from the farmer are looking for that connection. Raw milk sales could add a steady source of revenue to the farm. This type of farm is thriving in Vermont and Maine. Perhaps the number of cows you could milk could also be capped if you wanted to sell milk (e.g. 15). By limiting the number of cows, the producer must keep the price of milk at or above the price in the store in order to make it profitable.

    I agree with your bacon analogy and saw it when Mad Cow drive down beef prices everywhere – except in the store. I hate the middleman as much as you.

    Many consumers have lost faith in the food protection agencies and want to decide for themselves. They will be the ones doing the inspections and deciding if they want to drink it.

    We are not on opposites of this argument. We both want to produce healthy food for consumers and receive a fair price for it. It is accomplished through supply management and could be done through a raw milk sales system.

    The consumer should be allowed to have a decision.

    • here’s a newsflash for you, Frustrated : the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. The Germans were compelled by their conquerers to practice Stalin-ism. 43 years’ worth of it, was all the proof they needed to know that it doesn’t work. Canadians, on the other hand, instituted the command economy, where apparatchiks 3000 miles away, tell the farmer and the local grocer what they can and cannot do. It’s all over but the crying, for the dairy supply management system. And not a moment too soon. Time the vassals of the bank awaken to what the rest of us call “reality” As REAL MILK is de-criminal-ized, if you want to sell it at the farm gate, you have a very steep learning curve ahead of you. Fresh whole pure raw milk, fit for human consumption, is quite a different substance than that produced for the dairy cartel. Here’s some free advice : GET OUT OF BABYLON = be an ‘early adapter’, start today with a dairy operation COMPLETELY SEPARATE FROM THE QUOTA SYSTEM. The free market will tell you what a fair price is.

      • frustrated farmer

        Hi Mr. Watson,
        I don’t enjoy the limitations of supply management, but it does have some merits. I our area we have small farms of 20 – 25 cows in existence, and without supply management they may not be possible.

        We need to remember that not everyone wants to drink raw milk, therefore it will need to be produced and supply management is not a bad way to do it.

        Just because supply management goes away, the sale of raw milk will become legal. For example, in the U.S., there is no quota system but the sale of raw milk is not legal in all States.

        I feel the consumer should have a choice.

  17. Carol

    Gordon,you say,”Fresh whole pure raw milk, fit for human consumption, is quite a different substance than that produced for the dairy cartel.” As I said many times you and others on this blog keep repeating this like parrots with absolutely no facts to back it up.Show me the facts!!! I am not going to repeat what I have already made very clear.. but one thing I know for certain I think the CowShare milk is too expensive for the average family and I do not believe you can qualify asking $3-4-5 dollars a liter when you do not have the same expenses. I think everyone should be able to afford whole food not just those that are well healed financially. I know my children could not afford these prices.I believe most people who obtain “Raw” milk get it from the “dairy Cartel” as you call it for about a $1.00 a litre. and despite the fact you spit venom at the idea many of us believe the quality is no different. I do not think in most cases quality is the issue. Perhaps the issue is a fair return and maybe the quota farmer should get more. I think with the new trade agreement coming up however the milk,chicken and egg quota will no doubt be eliminated and then all farmers will be on a level playing field with its up and downs and as you know”FrustratedFarmer” it has been mostly downs and I often wonder why we continue to do it with so much back lash and unqualified comments.

    • A good place to start educating you-self on ‘the facts’ would be the transcript of Michael Schmidt’s trial in Provincial Court. The Crown put on the witness stand 2 of the best they could find in Ontario, to give expert evidence. The Defendant put on Dr Ted Beals, a teaching professor and a pathologist, and Ron Hull, who ran the Australian govt.’s dairy research facility. Merely two of the top experts in the world, on this topic After hearing all of them, Justice of the Peace Kowarski volunteered that there are 2 streams of raw milk, significantly different in quality. One ; produced with the understanding that it would be consumed as-is by human beings. The other ; destined for the Pasteur-izer, has to be cooked, in order to make it fit for human consumption.

      There’s tons of stuff on the internet, substantiating that whole fresh pure un-adulterated, milk from cows fed on grass, contains nutrients that are cooked out of the stuff which goes to market. I urge you to do your own research. My website has a few good places to start

      What’s obvious is, you are not in touch with the actual ‘numbers’ involved in artisanal dairying. Doesn’t matter to me whether you believe the price our members pay “does not qualify for $3-4-5 dollars a litre’. First of all, cows don’t think in the metric system. They deal only in quarts and gallons. The metric system was imposed in order to trick people into accepting global-ization. Second : I established a genuinely free market in BC, for the service business of agistment in dairying. In that free enterprise, we do what suits us, without taking direction from apparatchiks 3000 miles away. The shareholders in our herd decide for ourselves what an appropriate price shall be. They can pay it, or they can cash-in their share, then go shop at Safeway. You’re in favour of choice? There you go

      If you don’t appreciate the nutritional superiority of REAL MILK, then you won’t understand why others pay the premium for it. Fresh pure un-processed whole raw milk from grass-fed cows, is a gourmet product. Like all specialty products, it commands a higher price.

      You say you ‘think everyone should be able to afford whole food not just those that are well heeled financially. … well, that’s a nice social-ist notion, but I have the unhappy duty to tell you otherwise. For 2 generations, Americans have been misled down the garden path, to believe that they had some kind of a ‘right to cheap food’. You don’t. The distress you’re feeling is only the beginning of a very unpleasant awakening as hyper-inflation kicks in. Call me a “gouger” all you want / you cannot argue with success = the prices we charge inspire hard workers to deliver the goods. Without such prices, they won’t bother.

      Since you mention your children : You can pay higher prices now, for higher quality food or you can pay the bills later, for their dental work. If there’s one area in which REAL MILK is provably superior, it’s in the comparative dental health of populations. Educate you-self ; start with Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr Weston A Price

      You presume an awful lot, ma’am, telling me that I “don’t have the same expenses” … as what?! When’s the last time you got yr boots muddy walking across a barnyard where REAL MILK is produced? What you’ve let slip is, your real beef is with the fact that we didn’t pay no bribe for a permit to participate in the racket, aka “quota”. Especially, that we don’t work our guts out to make the usury payments on the obscene amount of $$ it took to finance purchase of such quota. Quota holders are serfs in the Stalin-ist system, who owe their soul to the Banksters. If you can find me one single dairy farmer in the whole Dominion, who DOESN’T owe far more than he’s worth … he’ll be the exception proving the rule. Quota farmers hate our guts because they’re terrified if we prevail, we’ll have proved that their quotas are worthless. But don’t worry = negotiations are already underway to buy you-all out, at taxpayer expense, of course. It’s the Canadian way = just throw $$ at the problem, ‘til the media gets the cue to quit talking about it.

      I agree with you = Cowshare milk is out of reach for the average family. The artisanal dairy operation is by necessity, much less efficient per unit than the industrial-ized agriculture model. But it is imperative to realize that you aren’t comparing things similar. What comes out of a factory farm is the lowest common denominator of what’s acceptable by the buyer, which in Canada, is a communist system which long ago ditched quality for sheer quantity, so as to pretend a politically-correct ‘low price’. Cowshares produce to the standards defined by their members, ie, the best possible. People who will pay that price only as long as they are sure they’re getting good value for money.

      I am puzzled by your statement that “most people who obtain “Raw” milk get it from the “dairy Cartel” as you call it for about a $1.00 a litre.

      Are you saying that dairy farmers holding quota are selling raw milk to a local, underground market ? Well, if so, then they’re engaging in a criminal offence. Often called “stealing”. Such milk is owned by the milk marketing scheme, ie. the government ; it is not the property of that farmer. Of course it goes on every day …we all know that. Which is where cowsharers start asking : how come we’re being prosecuted for underwriting our own dairy ; simply exercising our right to use and enjoy our own property … meanwhile, the same authorities know full well that most dairy farm families drink milk from the bulk tank ( and sell it) yet we don’t see health inspectors out there slapping Cease + Desist Orders on them?!

  18. thebovine

    These are some of the sort of people who sadly won’t be affording raw milk: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/the-sharp-sudden-decline-of-americas-middle-class-20120622
    They have a different struggle on their hands. And it’s hard to know what to make of it all. Has the economy been deliberately collapsed? And why? At least raw milk farming can provide an economic engine for some farmers to keep going in these challenging times.

  19. Carol

    Well Gordon I do not have time o reply to all you said but one thing for sure I will reply to,”You presume an awful lot, ma’am, telling me that I “don’t have the same expenses” … as what?! When’s the last time you got yr boots muddy walking across a barnyard where REAL MILK is produced? ” I probably have had just as much or more “mud &sh****t “on my boots then you have ever had producing REAL MILK. You know nothing about how I farm, what I feed my animals and just because I go by the law and sell my milk to the “Dairy Cartel”” as you call it you condemn me and the quality of my milk. Until it is legal for me to have a another system I will continue to abide by the law. If someone would like to purchase a cow or goat and have me milk it I would be more than happy to do it but remember Gordon the Judge said that the CowShare system as presently set up was no different then a Costco membership.
    As for expenses that i was speaking of that CowShare farmers do not have is the expense of Quota, some do not have milking equipment and bulk tanks with all the regulation that goes with that including unannounced inspections.You keep referring to the better quality of CowShare type milk. If you have been reading what I have already said some are selling their milk to the unsuspecting Cow Share consumer with higher counts then I have ever had so Gordon I do not think all is perfection in having a Cow Share any more than all is perfect in my world but its the only way that is legal at this point in time.
    In conclusion all my children have no problems with dental issues nor do I but the milk is not the only reason for that. As far as the “Dairy Cartel” selling or trading for milk it is no more illegal then the Cow Share and all the milk is not owned by the System as often there is too much milk produced especially in the spring and summer for the daily quota so it has to be dumped, traded or given away or yes sold to consumers who want it.
    Well,enough already back to work!! Have a great summer.

  20. Raoul

    The Bovine: Good point, Whether the so-called “economy” is supposedly doing well or not is not just the point. Rebuilding society with a proper ethical foundation of right livelihood which includes wholesome , organic and live food is as good as it gets. It will create lots of good , honest jobs for people and we all will be much healthier and happier . Trying to “fix” the economy from the outside “in” by “printing currency ” or building more casinos ( Bob Rae’s approach in Ontario in 1990) or starting “never-ending” wars lacks an ethical foundation and is doomed to fail and make our culture sick, stressed out, unhappy and violent and ,yes , poorer on all planes of reality not just “financial ” .

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