David E. Gumpert writes in the excerpt below about how some American food rights activists have recently taken their cause to the people by running for political office, in some cases against their former oppressors.
Michael Schmidt has more than once sought political office, and though he was able to garner considerable support, he was not able to break through the obstacles that were put in his way, possibly in some cases, by those with a vested interest in the status quo.
Residents of Ontario will likely be aware that there is a provincial election currently in progress. This means that we have an opportunity to raise food rights issues in questioning our candidates. One of the few politicians who have publicly supported the raw milk movement in Ontario is Randy Hillier, who was elected as a Progressive Conservative MPP in 2007. His private members bill asking the government to study the raw milk issue did not however, gain enough support at Queen’s Park.
Kathleen Wynne, who was chosen about a year ago as Liberal party leader to replace Dalton McGuinty, has had an ambiguous relationship to his heritage, distancing herself from the scandals, while honouring his contribution.
It was Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government, of course, which appealed the 2010 acquittal of Michael Schmidt on raw milk charges related to the raid in 2006. That case is still wending its way through the court system. In response to the overturning of his acquittal in 2011 and the subsequent confirmation of that decision at the Ontario Court of Appeal just this spring, Michael has resolved to take his case to the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court of Canada. Whether the Supreme Court will agree to hear the case remains, of course, an open question.
In addition to her role as Premier, Kathleen Wynne is also Minister of Agriculture. Has anyone been asking Provincial candidates, and party leaders, where they stand on the questions around raw milk rights?
“After the demonstration, I got to spend some time with Hickman, who has been perhaps the most passionately outspoken Maine politician on behalf of food rights. He told me about how his own exasperation with regulators in setting up a bed-and-breakfast on his farm in Winthrop led him to go the political route. “Next thing you know, they’re going to want to tell us how and when to wipe our rear ends,” he concluded. He won a House seat in 2012.
All this activity Tuesday came on the heels of news that Michigan farmer Mark Baker of feral pork fame is running for sheriff in his home county. The decision to run grew out of his own frustration in getting what he considered to be reasonable support and protection from the local sheriff in his conflict with Michigan regulators, who tried to shut down his farm and fine him $700,000 for selling pigs deemed genetically inappropriate under its “invasive species order.” What better way to let the power that be know you are dissatisfied than to go after his job, so local farmers get better protection from wild-eyed government enforcers.
If there is one thing politicians respect it is competition, as in competition for their jobs. Given the expanding and onerous regulations on food, there may be more farmers seeking out elective office….”