“Over nearly two decades of fighting for the right to access raw milk, Michael Schmidt has become legendary for his persistent promotion of dialog with reluctant regulators and politicians. He went on a hunger strike last fall that he ended after five weeks when his demand for a personal dialog with Ontario’s premier, Dalton McGuinty, was granted.
In recent days, he has undertaken a new, even more sensitive, dialog challenge. He is seeking to turn an aggressive investigation into scrapie among a herd of rare Shropshire sheep into an opportunity for dialog designed to re-examine how farm animal illness is handled and how rare genetic strains might be protected.
What makes this challenge so sensitive is that Schmidt has been targeted by investigators from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), suspicious about his possible involvement in the disappearance of 31 sheep from an Ontario farm last April. They mysteriously vanished–taken into “protective custody” by the Farmers Peace Corp, according to a note left behind– after authorities targeted them for slaughter because they were thought to possibly harbor scrapies, a fatal degenerative disease that can spread among sheep and goats. The sheep’s disappearance prompted a huge search by authorities going door-to-door in the area and using helicopters. Some 26 of the Shropshire sheep were re-discovered at another farm earlier this month.
Based on reactions and questions from the investigators, he expects to be formally charged with criminal misconduct before long.
He appeared to anticipate the new developments in a video statement last week, when he denied direct involvement in the affair, but said , “I am aware that I, as a consequence to my public statement, might be subject to an investigation and possible charges related to the sad sheep saga. I am determined to support the brave work of those who have risked their personal safety and security to try to protect those sheep with the hope that ‘conclusive evidence’ would have been provided by the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) in order to return the sheep for orderly slaughter if found infected or for further testing…Whatever will evolve I am honored to be a part of this brave action, as I have taken on the role as liaison for the Farmers Peace Corp.”
At the end of last week, two investigators from the CFIA showed up at Schmidt’s Ontario dairy farm and “were threatening,” says Schmidt. “One of them said, ‘Your travels are over, Mr. Schmidt.'” There was also talk that “we will quarantine your farm for forty years.” One thing that was very clear was “that they have been watching my every move and travels and every thing I have written on the Internet. It is also very clear that they are weighing their strategy how to silence me and if silencing me might create an even bigger problem.” …”