“Local raw milk advocate Michael Schmidt is appealing a British Columbia Supreme Court judge’s finding of contempt against him for violating an injunction to stop the distribution of raw milk for human consumption under the “ruse” of saying his raw milk was a cosmetic.
Justice Randall Wong, in a June 5 written decision, found Schmidt and B.C. farm owner Gordon Watson in contempt of the court’s March 18, 2010 injunction after the Fraser Health Authority filed a petition calling for a finding of contempt and special costs.
“In this case, distributing raw milk as a purported cosmetic product was patent lip service and ruse to distribute raw milk for human consumption,” Wong’s decision says.
Wong noted the farm’s website, “Our Cows,” said nothing about cosmetics at the time the milk was said to have been produced for cosmetic purposes, nor that it was not for human consumption.
“The articles are directly aimed at raw milk, its virtues, and campaigns to advocate to legalize raw milk for human consumption.”
The judge handed each man a three-month suspended sentence, followed by one year of probation and granted costs to the health authority. Schmidt could not be reached for comment Monday.
It’s Schmidt’s second contempt of court finding related to the distribution of raw, unpasteurized milk.
“With all due respect, Justice Wong got it totally wrong,” Schmidt said in an e-mail to The Sun Times after the B.C. decision was released. He said he was filing an appeal.
Schmidt and fellow raw milk advocate Gordon Watson operated “Our Cows,” farm in Chilliwack, B.C. Schmidt “reorganized” the farm under a “new business model.” It involved producing raw milk products for cow-share members as cosmetics labeled with such names as Cleopatra’s Enzymatic Alpine Lotion.
The products contained just one ingredient — raw milk, the decision said. Wong described Schmidt’s court testimony as “very vague and cagey about the raw milk.” He also found Schmidt was “directing” the farm operations.
“The farm operates as a cow share in which members join and receive ‘dividends’ in the form of raw milk and/or raw milk products,” Wong’s decision says.
Watson said he hired Schmidt as the farm’s agister, or livestock manager, the decision says. It says Schmidt sought the Fraser Health Authority’s view on his intention to call the raw milk product a “cosmetic.”
In reply, the health authority told him in an Oct. 4, 2010, letter to “cease and desist from the production and distribution of raw milk whether it is labeled as a cosmetic product or not and that he comply with the March 18, 2010 B.C. Supreme Court Injunction Order.”
A public health inspection of the farm Aug. 26, 2011, to check compliance with the injunction found jar lid labels which indicated “Cosmetic Skin treatment Only — Our Cows Sharemember Dividends — Packaged Not for Human Consumption.”
Health Canada, in response to Schmidt’s inquiries, told him that since the milk was not for sale but rather was shared among the cow-share members, it had no jurisdiction to consider classifying the milk as a cosmetic, the court decision says….”