About the renewed attack on raw milk
About the focused attempt to get Michael behind bars
About the courage of Cow-, Herd-, Farm-Share members
About internet rants worthy to take note of
About moooving forward against all odds and signing the Food Rights Declaration
In February it will be 22 years since you got attacked the first time by health officials and enforcement police from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.
You have seen all shades of grey in this battle about white, real milk; do you think it will come to some kind of resolution this time around?
I was always hopeful that at some point common sense would be kicking in, instead of the repetitive anti-raw milk propaganda and very expensive lengthy legal procedures. Not to speak of lengthy undercover sting operations and expensive raids.
The raw milk research is expanding rapidly, the demand is increasing dramatically even without smart advertising campaigns.
The campaign FOR raw milk is unintentionally driven by the aggressive anti raw milk lobby.
Every time a farmer gets attacked more people wake up, more people ask for raw milk, more people condemn Government interference in very personal matters of choice.
Battling 22 years for the right to make that choice has not hurt us, it rather strengthened our resolve.
The nature of the latest attempts by Government agents to attack the flow of raw milk had a different character. First there are spy cameras close to Glencolton Farms. Neighbors and friends get involved because of the apparent intrusion of privacy. Then the local police force start acting strange.. Then the rather unprofessional raid in York Region happens and shortly there after the botched raid at Glencolton farms. What do you make of it?
It all seemed very uncoordinated and confusing. However when we started to put one and one together we realized that a much bigger agenda started to emerge. There are people involved who had been involved in the 1994 milk raids and the 2006 raids. There are some indications that the CFIA had been involved since early 2006 and have a great interest to at least help to make life really difficult for me.
Remember the whole sheep-napping case. The CFIA is in charge of the Scrapie eradication program and can make drastic decisions based on suspicions, like kill orders for whole flocks of sheep or even cows.
The problem starts when you challenge them. We are supposed to follow orders; we not supposed to challenge their authority.
Like I said before there is validity to disease control, but there needs to be accountability as well.
After 4 years of pre trial proceedings in the sheep napping case and over 15,000 pages of disclosure, patterns begin to emerge which raises serious questions about the validity of actions and the competence of people within the CFIA?
This plays no doubt in my mind into the whole dynamic of these latest raids as well.
On top of it we have the experience that the local police force suddenly act like bullies and lay charges but do not providing sufficient disclosure for a proper defense.
It is difficult to stay on top of all these legal challenges. What would you say is the common theme of all the court cases you have been involved with?
Almost all cases could have been resolved without court if those involved had followed the common sense procedures of dialogue instead of power tripping.
There have been many cases of power hungry and obsessed bureaucrats versus farmers. The very sad part is that too many times farmers decide not to fight because it is easier to plead guilty. They would rather cut a deal with the prosecution than to endure the stress of lengthy and costly court proceedings. This is understandable under the circumstances. We are experiencing an unprecedented abuse of power, a total infringement of fundamental rights and a court system which seems to have lost its proper function. It simply appears to be the executive arm of Government and limits itself to case law rulings if convenient but rarely steps beyond that to render justice in the truest sense.
You have lost more cases in court than you won. Why keep fighting and digging your hole deeper and deeper?
That’s true. I should be totally depressed and discouraged looking at the rulings, not to speak of the fines and costs connected to these proceedings. I am sure there are many out there trying to figure out how to stop this.
There has been repeated comments made by investigators and police that all they want is to see me behind bars. I am already out on bail on three different charges and cannot travel unless I get permission by the authorities. They have confiscated my passport and could theoretically jail me until these different trials. They have not pursued that option yet, but I assume it well get much more ugly before it will settle down.
What are the current charges?
There are the charges of conspiracy to commit an offence against the state.
Charges of breaking the quarantine.
Charges of defrauding the public.
They all relate to the Sheep-napping case.
Then there are the charges for theft of surveillance cameras, which I have reported to the police in the first place.
Then there are the charges of obstructing a peace officer during the stand off here at the farm.
Almost all of them carry a potential jail sentence.
Are you not worried?
Why should I be worried? I am more worried about the complacency and apathy of the general public. We are so easily scared into complacency and so quickly intimidated by authorities that we have lost our rightful standing in society. We might as well just do what we get told and comply. Lets get immunized, lets eat GMO foods, lets get fooled by the courts perceived authority, lets get legally drugged by big pharma, especially when it is paid by the Government. Lets get fooled that bombing other countries will solve our problems and lets get fooled that elected politicians are allowed to act truly in your interest or even have the power to bring about change. Why should I be worried going to jail? At least I know then that I have done something right.
You have been battling in court for over twenty years. Are there any rewards so to speak off?
I have attended many court proceedings here and in the United States. All of them had to do with farmers versus regulatory agencies. I was over and over again fascinated by the contrast of very often self righteous bureaucrats with evasive personalities doing their job. They have such a difficulty looking straight into your eyes and keep giving repetitive pre-scripted answers. And then you watch farmers, coming in with their whole family, children, grand parents, brothers and sisters and it breaks your heart. All they want to do is grow the food for people who want the food. I am thinking of Vernon Hershberger in Wisconsin, Alvin Schlangen in Minnesota, the Zinniker family in Wisconsin, Max Kane in Wisconsin, Alice Jongerden in BC, Mark Tijssen in Ontario, Judith and Eric in Edmonton and Montana Jones in Ontario. But there are many more struggling in the same way without support and will give in because the toll on the family is too great.
Being in court gives you the opportunity to face off with those who claim to protect us from our selves or claim to protect the state. It’s a dirty game which is played unless you have a judge with courage, a judge who is engaged and not lazy, a judge who understands the principles of common law. A judge whose role is to serve justice and not to protect injustice based on the amount of money one or the other side has to argue the case.
At the latest raid on the farm the dynamic of confrontation apparently changed. What happened?
I think everybody was caught be surprise how quickly people gathered to witness the raid. Thanks to the internet and smart phones. I just send out one message for people to come to witness another raid. Postings multiplied very quickly. Liz Reitzig, a dear friend in the US heavily involved in the Food Rights Movement was on standby and kept posting the happenings at the farm.
It was also fascinating to watch the change in dynamics amongst those who came watching the raid how they felt empowered to defend their farm. Nothing was organized , it was a swell of courage which led into peaceful defiance. Kids played around hot cider was served and the people stood like a wall looking straight into the faces of the invading investigators.
We received thank you letters from around the world for the simple act of courage to resist.
The same happened a couple days before in York Region where the mothers stood up to defend their food. It was remarkable to see the determination in the faces of those mothers defending their food and the faces of those violating these rights by order of the state. Here at the farm no investigator would look into your eyes. They all had sunglasses and weren’t allowed to communicate with anybody.
Police state comes to mind.
Nevertheless it was incredible to see how people felt empowered and were willing to go to jail in defense of their farm.
Shortly thereafter West Grey Police laid theft charges against you for removing spy cameras. And a week later 5 people got charged for obstructing a peace officer.
None of the women blocking the drive way, none of the women arguing very expressive with investigators got charged. What do you make of it?
The people charged have been picked very selectively. In my opinion the prosecution will have challenges to prove their case without facing accusations of malicious prosecution.
The trial itself might become a nightmare for them at the end.
But at the same time do not underestimate your enemy. Arresting moms for defending their food would not be wise. They rather make criminals out of outspoken farmers in order to justify shooting them.
Talking about enemies, reading some of the comments on Bovine blog by anonymous writers, appears to show a deep division in the raw milk movement.
They very often get right down and dirty in their comments. Why are you not responding?
No sense responding to on line rants by anonymous individuals. I sometimes think I can identify the people behind these rants in the way they are writing. But anybody can hide behind these posts in order to create chaos, confusion and distrust. How do we know that these individuals are writing on behalf of government bureaucrats or the CFIA. At the end it does not matter. Any destructive and derogative commentary speaks for itself, people can express their opinion if they wish but at the end aggressive commentaries do not lead to any resolution or any constructive face to face dialogue. I don’t put any weight on these comments and think may be it is even therapy, rant therapy I’ll call it. People get tired of it anyhow.
In regards to division in the raw milk movement I agree. There are those who love to do things underground hoping to evade authorities and then there are those who have nothing to hide.
I still prefer to go the route of openness and transparency. Hey do you want to see the farm? Come over we have nothing to hide.
I pulled back from the Cow Share Canada concept because too many raw milk noses got out of joint and that’s fine.
I still firmly believe that standards for the production of raw milk are helpful and necessary. They are the responsible thing to do.
I still insist that people have a right to choose, what they put in their mouth.
I still believe that there is somewhere an ounce of common sense to actually sit down together to built a road, which clearly protects the rights of people so that we all can walk in the spirit of freedom without fear.
Considering the hostile environment you are living and working in, how significant is the Declaration Of Food Rights which got signed at Queens Park?
We heard many times from the courts that food rights are not protected under the Charter
If we leave it up to the courts to decide what freedom is then we going to lose all our Rights. The Declaration of Food Rights is powerful and gives people a way to express, that they are affirming a fundamental right. This is a right which cannot be granted by a regulatory, judicial or parliamentary authority.
We are on our way.
People are waking up. Authorities will have to face more and more resistance.
This is, for us, not about power, this is about nourishment and health.
Photos in this post are from the signing of the declaration of food rights at Queen’s Park, Nov. 26, 2015