Michael Schmidt sees legal case over sheep “going in the right direction”

David E. Gumpert has the scoop on what’s going down with Michael Schmidt:

Photo courtesy of Michael Schmidt

“The legal situation confronting Michael Schmidt could hardly look more ominous.

He faces four counts of conspiracy, in connection with the disappearance last April of 31 rare Shropshire sheep suspected by Canadian health authorities of harboring scrapies disease. Conviction could mean a lengthy jail term of up to 14 years, he has been told. Three other farmers charged in the alleged plot to move the sheep and save them from mandated slaughter by the Canadian Food Information Agency (CFIA)  are Montana Jones, Suzanne Atkinson, and Robert Pinnell.

Schmidt has been forced to surrender his passport in connection with the charges–a not insignificant penalty for a man who has over the last few years become the spiritual leader of North America’s budding food rights movement, and been in ever-greater demand as a speaker around the U.S. and Canada.

He was arraigned last week, to have mug shots taken and be fingerprinted, and it’s unclear when his trial will be held.

While Schmidt has faced much legal travail since his Glencolton Farm in Ontario was first raided in 1993 for selling raw milk–his conviction in 2011 of violating provincial dairy laws has been accepted for appeal by Ontario’s highest court–this current legal challenge is potentially the most serious the native of Germany has encountered….”

More on The Complete Patient blog.

3 Comments

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3 responses to “Michael Schmidt sees legal case over sheep “going in the right direction”

  1. John

    I tend to agree with Mr Gumpert, this could be quite serious.
    The power to impose and enforce such quarantines is an important element of any strategy to control the spread of disease in livestock populations. It is, therefore, not unexpected that CFIA would vigorously pursue anyone who might be implicated in the removal of the quarantined Shropshire sheep (as a deterrent to others, if nothing else).
    That the sheep tested negative for scrapie means rather little, in my view. CFIA determined that there were 2 scrapie cases traceable to the flock as the basis for, and confirmation of, the need to quarantine (and slaughter). Sheep that test negative may go on to exhibit clinical disease, and ‘negative’ is much better interpreted as ‘don’t know’. ‘Healthy’? Perhaps at the time, but they were not necessarily free of scrapie either.
    Also, the Scrapie Eradication Program applies to all sheep. There is nothing to suggest it bears any relation to ‘genetic cleansing’. Yes, it is unfortunate when rare breeds are affected, but this is determined by the distribution of the agent (and yes, the trading-practices of the owners), not by CFIA or it’s policies.

    • BC Food Security

      John: Thank you for your wise overview of the situation.
      There are probably 3 or more levels to this occurrence ( or any occurrence ) for that matter. One is the legal basis. It is the job of lawyers , after the fact, to try to invent justifications as to why it was the correct (or incorrect ) thing to do within the legal framework.
      There is a moral level that perhaps is partly subjective . Regardless ,we all well now that morality and law are not the same thing !
      There is the overall publicity level as well. Right or wrong , the occurrence obtained some kind of press or media and public attention like right here.
      Some might say it was simply a publicity stunt that went wrong.

      What am I trying to say is that it is theoretically possible that The Farmer’s Peace Corps, or whomever , could leverage this on a moral basis to get the masses to overturn the legal complaint. But in practice it ,so far , is looking like The Farmer’s Peace Corps do not have very advanced PR skills or financing to hire lobbying firms to effect that. This is evidenced by the noticeable lack of interest now in the occurrence right here on these pages . There is not even a fundraising campaign for the Farmer’s Peace Corps or their legal expenses .
      So if it is simply reduced to horse trading in the courts then you are probably right that the Farmer’s Peace Corps do not have much of a case. That is not to say that a good lawyer will not not be able to , at least partly, nail the CFIA on some technicality or the other. In terms of procedures the CFIA have bumbled along quite a bit. Perhaps that is the only hope i,e a big enough legal blunder in terms of some technicality to allow a reduced sentence or discharge ?
      The biggest blunder of all was charging Montana Jones, a person who had nothing to do with the Sheepnapping or the Farmer’s Peace Corps ! Ms. Jones was well aware of the serious nature of a Scrapie Quarantine on her sheep and had worked for a long time very hard to follow all the CFIA requirements . So hopefully Ms. Jones will, at least, receive sufficient Financial compensation for all the mental cruelty and business losses she suffered at the hands of the CFIA !
      Stay tuned for the next chapter !

  2. Mary had a little lamb

    Well said John!

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