Michael Schmidt has been conspicuous by his absence from the raw milk and food rights scene for quite some months now. Instead of traveling the continent as keynote speaker at conferences, he quietly tends to his cows and avoids the limelight — which leads many to wonder what is up with the mystery man. Fortunately, for those who have been wondering, this recent self-interview from Michael sheds a little light on some of the latest developments in Michael’s long, and still continuing, work in the fields of raw milk and food rights.
A rather rare interview with Michael Schmidt:
It was hard to track you down and convince you to sit down for a one on one interview with yourself, why?
There are several reasons for the withdrawal from the public view.
The last 8 years have been very intense and dominated by the legal battles in Ontario, BC and Alberta regarding raw milk.
Besides all the legal challenges I had a lot of speaking engagements in the US, Europe and here in Canada.
This was necessary in order to raise the awareness in regards to the loss of our fundamental right to make an informed and educated choice.
I am sure I made my point.
Others have now stepped forward wanting to carry the flag of food freedom.
The Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear your appeal, which ended your 8 year battle with the Province of Ontario. Are you disappointed about the outcome?
Why should I be disappointed? Look what we have achieved in all these years. There are more people drinking raw milk than before.
We have trained outstanding farmers each supported by very passionate cow share members who are eager to defend their farmers and their right to the food of their choice.
It has become a public debate.
Every public survey I have seen which has been undertaken by the news media in the last 8 years supported our position. A minimum of 75% of the respondents voted that everyone should have the right to make a choice to either drink pasteurized or raw milk.
The Government is very well aware of that.
What prevents change?
In Canada and the US we have policy and regulations developed based on lobbying efforts by the industry, in our case the dairy industry and the Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO).
There is a lot of speculation about the role of the DFO in this whole debate.
It will come out eventually and people will understand the controlling nature of Supply Management and how it corrupts a constructive debate and objective research in regards to the benefits of raw milk.
Would you consider last year’s Raw Milk Symposium sponsored by the Food Science Department of the University of Guelph a success?
I would say it was indeed refreshing to hear some objective research done on raw milk. However none came out of Guelph.
By the way the DFO pulled out of the Symposium which speaks for itself.
Most of the research presented was done in countries where raw milk is legal. Almost every presentation struggled with the question of what traits in raw milk have positive effects on our health especially in children and get lost once the milk is pasteurized. The basic question in the room remained how to balance the issue of risk versus benefits.
Nadine Ijaz had probably the best presentation in regards to analyzing the real facts about risk versus benefits.
FROM SCIENCE TO POLICY was the theme of the symposium.
In my presentation I pointed out that unless we have the willingness to look at the issue of objective science, policy will predetermine the outcome of science.
As long as we have scientists who are nothing else than mouth pieces of the dairy industry, policy will not change.
Why would you say that?
I would not go so far as to claim that scientists are lying , but I would say they have been giving very unscientific answers, which are clearly misleading.
For example, when Art Hill, chair of the food science department in Guelph was interviewed on TVO, he stated that raw milk is a thousand times more risky to consume than pasteurized milk.
Nowhere is there any science that supports such a statement Why would he say something, like that? It just fuels the fire of this conflict and does not ignite any constructive dialogue, it actually prevents a constructive debate.
When I dared to point out in my presentation at the conference is that no constructive dialogue can take place if scientist and expert witnesses at trial are simply mouthpieces of the industry, Mansell Griffith and Art Hill, both leading researchers at the University of Guelph became visibly upset, feeling that their integrity was in doubt..( by the way, Griffith’s position at the research center is paid by the DFO)
They in return refused to publish my conference presentation unless I removed that statement. I did not.
Do you seriously think that they are unduly influenced?
Sure they are.
I am currently examining the sworn testimony and cross examinations of the top Government expert Mansell Griffith with outside experts to identify if in fact he committed perjury. There are some statements which could be classified as “intentionally misleading”. In a court of law that poses a problem. Especially if judges take their testimony to justify their decisions.
However I have been in court many times and I have seen how the truth is tainted in a very sad way. Bureaucrats are masters in twisting the truth and justifying their actions. Lying and manufacturing evidence is part of their job.
You have been in court many times, sometimes successful and many times defeated. Why do you keep going?
It seems as if the court room is so far the only place where bureaucrats are forced to be accountable. Yes, they might lie, yes, they might bend the truth, yes, they may manufacture evidence, but we as citizens have an opportunity to call them to task. Put aside the judges, who can appear to be very lazy, corrupted and biased.
The trial itself is a study of the human being. I do love to watch closely the body language of Government witnesses. It is fascinating that most of them cannot even look straight into your eyes. They are sometimes so heavily coached and brainwashed that I feel sorry for them. Most of them, I believe, know in their heart that they are betraying the truth in order to keep their job.
I have no illusion that Government agents and lawyers play games and know well how to play games.
However once in a while you find justice and that is what matters.
The Ontario court case is finished, raw milk continues to flow in Ontario. But no change in law in sight.
Realistically, is it not a matter of time until the next raids will happen?
I would say bring it on.
I hope that I made myself clear that there has always been the willingness on my part for dialogue since 1994. I have this carefully documented over the last 21 years.
This is over now. Any further attacks instead of constructive dialogue will have consequences.
We have adjusted our and the other herd-share operations according to the rulings of the different judges in order to improve some of the weak points. It would be interesting to see how far they are willing to go this time.
For me personally I have made up my mind that I will not engage anymore. If Government decides to attack, it will be the final public battle for me. Raw milk is here to stay, food freedom is a sacred right.
So far every attack has activated more people in the debate and raised the awareness.
How about your fines which by now add up to around 100,000 dollars?
I said it before; paying fines is an admission of guilt.
I am not guilty of breaking any law or regulation by providing a service to people, who decided to own their own farm, their own cow and drink their own milk.
I am willing to go to jail instead in order to highlight the injustice.
I said that in 1994 and I say this today.
Your next challenge is coming up. The sheep napping trial is a high stakes affair.
Yes. And I am looking forward to it.
If you are found guilty in the sheep napping case you will face heavy fines and for sure jail time.
You need to understand that most people are too afraid of taking actions, even justified actions, because of the consequences. They would rather tolerate criminal actions of the Government and bureaucrats.
The sheep napping case will be most interesting because it will provide the public a look inside the workings of the CFIA and its enforcers.
The prosecution is currently desperately trying to cut deals with some of the accused with the promise of lower fines.
Some of those involved seemed to feel they had no choice and pleaded guilty or became witnesses for the prosecution. I do understand them, considering the costs involved. Most guilty pleas nowadays are done anyhow for financial reasons because the costs are immense for a proper defense.
The sheep case is a perfect example of how the prosecution uses every avenue to drive up the costs hoping we cannot defend ourselves properly.
So far the CANADIAN CONSTITUTION FOUNDATION is covering the expenses of the defense with Shawn Buckley as our lawyer, a lawyer with a deep moral sense of justice.
Serious fundraising has to happen because as things go now this will drag on for a long time.
It is great that in this case we will have a trial jury of peers.
When this trial is done I guarantee you, the kill policy of the CFIA will change.
It is strange that there seems to be unlimited financial resources to prosecute but no willingness to go the extra mile to help save the rare sheep.
Bringing things into the public eye is everybody’s responsibility. Not to act when injustice is done is not different than committing the crime itself.
No music, no public speaking, the old Michael Schmidt seems to fade away.
Yes, times have changed. Priorities change. My love for justice has not changed. My love for farming is greater than ever.
Like I said, there are thousands of great musicians but only a few passionate farmers left.
There are also many who feel they have a better way to change the law than through civil disobedience and court proceedings.
I wish them all the energy and endurance needed to succeed.
May there be peace also with those who are constantly trying to prosecute other citizens at all costs in the name of a faceless Government. The time of reckoning is always coming.
Let me close with a quote from Thoreau on “civil disobedience”:
” If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth—certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.
Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.”