Interview with Michael Schmidt

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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

M.S.

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?

Michael

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.

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M.S.

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?

Michael

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.

M.S.

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?

Michael

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.

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M.S.

You have lost more cases in court than you won. Why keep fighting and digging your hole deeper and deeper?

Michael

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.

M.S.

What are the current charges?

Michael

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.

M.S.

Are you not worried?

Michael

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.

M.S.

You have been battling in court for over twenty years. Are there any rewards so to speak off?

Michael

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.

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M.S.

At the latest raid on the farm the dynamic of confrontation apparently changed. What happened?

Michael

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.

M.S.

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?

Michael

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.

M.S.

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?

Michael

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.

M.S.

Considering the hostile environment you are living and working in, how significant is the Declaration Of Food Rights which got signed at Queens Park?

Michael

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.

Thank You

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Photos in this post are from the signing of the declaration of food rights at Queen’s Park, Nov. 26, 2015

28 Comments

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28 responses to “Interview with Michael Schmidt

  1. Thank you, so very much, Michael!
    This the best presentation that I have read here to date!
    There are several statements here that I would like to at least acknowledge and I may need to return to continue.

    Firstly re: “I am more worried about the complacency and apathy of the general public.” I hear this! I think we would agree that this “complacency and apathy” are symptoms of a fear-based conditioning that is rampant among “the general public”, based on your saying: “We are so easily scared into complacency and so quickly intimidated by authorities that we have lost our rightful standing in society.” People need to see that by not “governing” their own fears and shoring up their psyche that they leave the door open for external government to extend itself where it is not truly authorized.

    I believe this dynamic needs more recognition and awareness so that people can have the opportunity to face and embrace their fears and finally release the gifts that are held back by those fears. I believe your resolve and steady intentions can inspire people to move beyond their “complacency and apathy”.

    Re: “We received thank you letters from around the world for the simple act of courage to resist.”

    That is truly beautiful Michael! Is there a possibility that some of these letters can be posed or at least some quotes?

    Las but not least – I think you can see through the veil known as “the color of law”. I can imagine you eventually “pulling the curtain” away from the “wizard/s” to expose their smoke and mirrors show for what it really is.

    God Bless and more power to you!

  2. oh, the anonymous interviewer again

  3. Tom Johnston

    Thanks, Michael, for the clarity. Appreciated.
    It seems you have a good handle on the law, and the workings of government. Or perhaps you have really good counsel. In either case, I’m much impressed with the Declaration of Food Rights. Thank you for clarifying your perspective and intentions. It is clear that it isn’t just something fun, but really something serious and significant. It sounds really well thought through.
    For some of us lay people for whom it may not be entirely clear, before I sign it while at the Symposium, could you expand on a few things?
    1. When you say “Food Rights”, do you mean the “Right to Have Food”, or the “Right to Choose the Food We Want”? Or is it something else?
    2. Is this declaration intended as an amendment to the Canadian Constitution / Charter of Rights, or as a stand alone document? Or perhaps it is part of your own charter? How does it relate to existing provincial or federal law?
    3. Is this declaration part of a general severance from the state, like a declaration of independence, or is it simply an indication of non-compliance or disagreement of certain laws you don’t like, or you deem not to be in keeping with your “common sense”?
    4. Is this declaration being made only by the signatories on the document? Or is it on behalf of all Glencolton/ARC farm share holders, including the ones that didn’t sign? Or is it on behalf of all Ontario residents?
    Sorry to bother you with this. I’m sure you’re busy. If you find yourself too busy to answer, I’m wondering if you might ask one of the signatories to respond instead. I’m confident, seeing as they signed it, that they’d be able to answer.
    Thanks again for all your hard work. I’m sure most of us won’t know/appreciate how much you’ve done and sacrificed until way down the road.

  4. Franky

    You appear to be trying to re-gain control of the narrative with this “interview”. It might, however, also be perceived that you are avoiding the calls for clarity. Producers inside and outside of your circles are looking for some clarity, as posed on this blog. You seem to suggest they were attacks. But perhaps they could be seen as challenging questions.

  5. Peter

    Thanks for the rant about government immoral, unjust, ridiculous and wasteful conduct. Also, thanks for re-iterating how long you have been at it, and all that you’ve suffered. I hope the rants were therapeutic for you. I myself don’t put much weight on it. People get tired of it anyhow.
    You said the courts rarely render justice in the truest sense. Are you saying that because you don’t like the court rulings, or because you have clarity about what justice in the truest sense is?
    I must say I was over and over again fascinated by the contrast of very often self righteous farmer with evasive personality, giving repetitive responses.
    Being on the internet give you the opportunity to face off with those who claim to protect us from ourselves or claim to protect the raw milk market. It’s a dirty game which is played unless you have an intellectual who is engaged, and not lazy. An intellectual who understands the principles of common law. An intellectual whose role is not to be taken in by obfuscation, re-direction, mis-direction, deception, grandstanding, or by the whims of a majority.
    “[T]hose who came watching the raid how they felt empowered to defend their farm… it was a swell of courage which led into peaceful defiance”. Sounds like it was tribalism/groupism at it’s best. And it sounds like you thought that was a good thing. In case you haven’t noticed a trend, it fits right in with your general disposition. Everything about you says you are a communitarian. Let me help clarify: You believe that the whims/needs/wants of the many/group outweigh/trump the rights of the individual. A libertarian holds that the rights of the individual (human rights) are paramount.
    So please stop with your rhetoric about rights and understanding fundamental justice already. It is obvious that you don’t! You can’t (and won’t) even answer simple questions about law. It is apparent you just throw out statements and verbiage you have heard that sound noble, and it seems nobody has the clarity or the will to call out your BS.
    Everything about you says you want regulations to make sure it is safe. Safety is more important to you than individual liberty. Why don’t you just come out and say it? Come out of the closet already, so to speak! Please stop beating around the bush! It might even be good therapy. You won’t have to juggle rights vs safety anymore, which is forever crossing you up. You appear forever discombobulated, and it doesn’t look good on you! You are a much better person than that. Please stop embarrassing yourself.
    I’m not your enemy! You probably don’t like the expose of your lack of clarity. Who does? But you put yourself out there… Nothing to hide, as you say. And yet you are forever hiding the in-congruence between what you say and who you are/what you do. It is obvious that you are dancing. And if you want to keep dancing, I hope you feel free (Right to liberty? Or permission from the crowd?) to do so.

    • moosemeadows

      Communitarianism? Yes, perhaps in utterance this may seem to be so, but in action fascism is a better definition.

      • Tom Johnston

        Ha. Look at that. Fascism: a way of organizing a society in which a government ruled by a dictator controls the lives of the people and in which people are not allowed to disagree with the government (Merriam-Webster).

  6. rawmilkwar

    This is for all my beloved anonymous ranters on this blog.
    If you gonna want more information there is always a way to reach me.
    Moosemeadows you actually have a restriction order by the CFIA which prevents ANY communication. So you may want to consider the consequences if they catch on to you.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/01/20/rick-mercer-online-comments_n_9032364.html

    Warm regards
    Michael Schmidt

    • JackBrody

      Wrong again. Perhaps, once again your projecting Michael. Perhaps you could take it up with your lawyer. And then See a shrink about your condition.

    • Wrong! Your likely projecting again Michael. Perhaps you should check with your lawyer before making faulty statements. And then check in with your shrink.

    • Franky

      While I see that the comments are sometimes a bit pointed, (perhaps some frustration there?), I’m not sure any of the comments are hollow personal attacks. I see political decent, and calls for clarification or explanation, and perhaps even a desire to debate your position(s). I am not seeing insults or bullying. It seems more like you’d prefer not to experience public descent.

    • Franky

      If you put yourself out there on a public site, and publish on a site that allows public commentary, I believe you should expect some public scrutiny. Redirecting people to contact you in private, instead of responding openly is somewhat concerning. The words transparency and accountability come to mind.

  7. just a reader

    Michael, thank you for providing this update. Just one question: Do you support changing provincial laws so that herdshares are recognized, legalized, and protected against interference?

  8. Tom Johnston

    You appear to be occupied with the individual (messenger), rather than the content of the challenges. Perhaps your ability to throw people under the bus (shooting the messenger) has something to do with it. I don’t know. Just speculating.

  9. Peter

    If this were your site, would you filter out descending comments/challenges/questions (kind of like government censorship)? It might be beneficial if you could assure everyone here (especially for producers) that accusations of underlying dictatorial tendencies (which could be insinuated here by your apparent call to cancel comments), are without merit?
    This site does seem to have an active moderator. Perhaps we could ask the moderator to make a comment about his/her guidelines. Seems to me the moderator, in keeping with good journalistic practices, is accommodating varying points of view. Some objective clarity by the moderator about which particular comment on this blog is out of line would be appreciate. But then, given that he/she seems to screen all comments before posting them, suggests all posted comments did meet his/her minimum standards.

  10. Franky

    Is there a mirror thing going on here?
    Michael has a tendency to publicly lampoon the government as a whole, or even specific individuals working for the government. He ridicules “them” for being without “common sense”. And then he appears dismayed that they won’t engage him in “constructive dialog”.
    When someone publicly ridicules Michael for being confused, or lacking reason or clarity, he evidently clams up and won’t engage in constructive dialog.

  11. Michael, I agree with you 100% and appreciate your good attitude toward those who do not understand you. Keep taking the high road, it will pay in the eternal end. Thanks for explaining why some of the spears are being thrown.

    • Tom Johnston

      @George
      The above comment (“I agree with you 100%”) appears as edification to me that fuwmilkalberta doesn’t hold a position (doesn’t care) about whether the milk is made available with regulations, or as a matter of right. I get that fuwmilkalberta probably believes Michael has the best of intentions, but I don’t get the impression he is concerned about the (blatant?) lack of clarity from Michael about what he is hoping to achieve.
      I think I made my point before that there are consequences about which way it goes. Consumers don’t really care if the farmer is made subject to the dictates of the government (and their usually costly, or ridiculous conditions). Nor are most consumers (especially in Alberta?) aware of Michael’s disposition towards producers.
      Most consumers/proponents of raw milk just want to get their hands on it, details aside. Which is exactly why the government is so empowered to regulate, and why we have a “raw milk regulation issue” in the first place. Do you see the cycle? And if so, can you appreciate why it would serve us to break that cycle?

  12. just a reader

    There will always be a struggle between safety and freedom, regulation and liberty. But what it comes down to is: Do we want farmers in Canada to be able to provide raw milk to consumers who are demanding it, make a profit doing it, and be able to do it in a free market without fear of being shut down by health agencies? As a farmer, do you want to be able to advertise your product, or be forced to stay underground out of fear of being shut down? This is the trade-off.

    Raw milk is currently legal by various means (herdshares, farm-gate sales, or retail sales) in 33 U.S. states. In 16 of these 33 states, there are state-mandated bacterial standards. In France, Germany, and the U.K, there are bacterial standards. See the page “Examples of Bacterial Testing Standards” on the BCHA site at http://bcherdshare.org/information/testing-standards/ for a more detailed list.

    If having standards is a condition for legalization, then is this an acceptable trade-off? Particularly as RAWMI provides free training in methods that enable farms of any size to meet these standards – from the young B.C. farmer who has just started her herdshare and is hand-milking one cow, to herds of several hundred cows like Mark’s own Organic Pastures Dairy Company in California.

    Even if raw milk is legalized in Canada, either via sales or herdsharing, those that want to operate underground will still do so – legalization in Vermont reduced but didn’t entirely eliminate their “black market.” But other raw milk farmers will want to be able to be open about what they do, advertise it, grow their businesses, and be confident in their products. And pretty soon, more consumers will be asking asking “Can I see your test results?” before choosing a source for raw milk

    • Tom Johnston

      Well said. Thank you. You appear to appreciate the tension between “rights” and “regulations/safety”.
      If we “ask the government for permission”, and it is granted, our future engagement in raw milk is not a product of “our rights”. And, as such, we are not operating under the principle of “liberty” or “responsible”. Because in the regulated environment, so long as the producer conforms to the regulations, the producer is not responsible if something goes wrong. And in any case, whether the producer followed regulations or not, the consumer is not responsible.
      So like I said, let us drop “freedom, yes” and “responsible, yes”. Let us drop the “Declaration of Food Rights (or revised “Raw Milk Declaration”). They are intellectually dishonest!!!
      If regulations are what is wanted, I advocate that it be so stated, and that the rhetoric about losing our rights be dropped. This pervasive victim mentality propagated by Michael that we are losing our rights (Food Rights?) is simply dishonest. But it makes for great political fodder. It’s an effective (emotional), if dishonest, means of rallying the troops. But when, down the road, the unintended consequences come to pass, let us not cry foul, or then suggest that we are losing our rights (again).
      BTW, either safety trumps rights, or rights trump safety. The notion of “balancing” them is an illusion, played by politicians as a cover for the desire to impose a subjective value system on the masses. If human rights are paramount, then safety inherently takes a back seat. You literally cannot have it both ways.

  13. There will always be a struggle between safety and freedom, regulation and liberty. But what it comes down to is:
    Do we want farmers in Canada to be able to provide raw milk to consumers who are demanding it? make a profit doing it, and be able to do it in a free market without fear of being shut down by health agencies?
    That may depend on who you ask. It is somewhat unclear on whether some outspoken producers want farmers, or want farmers so long as those farmers are not incompetition with them or their ideals, or lack there of. Like, it would appear that some farmers are actually looking to control this these enterprises by some means of entitlement or power.
    That said, public access to raw milk is likely to eliminate many of the smaller producers, by virtue of capital intensity. And, will also likely make redundant the private arrangement model, whether it be private contract in the form of a herdshare or not.
    We could just look at who Michael is propping up here and the comments he has made, suggesting that it’s unfair that “his Friend” (mark MvAfee) can provide 70,000 litre a week, legally in California, while he is being constantly in legal trouble in Canada.
    In addition, if we look at some of the most recent events in the US, i.e around the Herberger Herdshare, we see an example where the Herdshare private arrangement contract has been used and successfully changed public policy, only for Herberger to abandon it, seeking a further development of overall legalization, such as what is available in California. And I should add, has looked to discredit those that have sought to question this (members of the herdshare)
    I am not sure how to define “free market”, in the context of a protected domain such a milk. I tend to appreciate that inherent in law is the notion of public and private (I know you don’t seem to believe this has any grounds in Canada), and there are examples of this in supply management, such as Farm gate. And, that free market can be further clarified of that which is of a public domain and private domain. I suspect that it might be argued that money is public and therefor all exchange of money is therefore of public domain. However, barring that, what might be considered of a private domain is that which has strict limitation of public access. (note:farm gate limits all public marketing and solicitation).

    As a farmer, do you want to be able to advertise your product, or be forced to stay underground out of fear of being shut down? This is the trade-off.
    As a farmer, I am totally ok with having to operate in a strictly private arena, which limits the operation strictly to direct personal contacts, with very clear abstinence from all public marketing. Yes, I do. And further, I believe it offers a greater capacity of food security, community, and offsets issues of malicious liability. I feel that there is substantial justification of activity, feel no need to make a public issue of it, and while there is the potential of interaction with public agency, feel confident that the fundamental issues of responsibilities are addressed.
    Raw milk is currently legal by various means (herdshares, farm-gate sales, or retail sales) in 33 U.S. states. In 16 of these 33 states, there are state-mandated bacterial standards. In France, Germany, and the U.K, there are bacterial standards. See the page “Examples of Bacterial Testing Standards” on the BCHA site at http://bcherdshare.org/information/testing-standards/for a more detailed list.
    If having standards is a condition for legalization, then is this an acceptable trade-off? Particularly as RAWMI provides free training in methods that enable farms of any size to meet these standards – from the young B.C. farmer who has just started her herdshare and is hand-milking one cow, to herds of several hundred cows like Mark’s own Organic Pastures Dairy Company in California.
    Overall, I think it is best to do the best one can, which is to understand the risks, mitigate those risks, and disclose those risks to all those that may take responsibility of such risks. If the production standard includes testing then that testing should be done, if it does not include testing then that should be disclosed. Raw milk production does not mean raw milk consumption! So, some may seek access to unpastuerized milk but have no intention to consume it raw. And so a raw milk standard seems most appropriate for those that are advocating raw milk consumption, and more so for producers that are seeking to offset any liability associated with that. However, the advocating of raw milk consumption, by producers, is inherently risky and economically flawed. We should note that though raw eggs (and…) are available everywhere there are no producers that are publically advocating raw consumption, and direct the public to the public position of the preparation standard (and mandated to all public food restaurants and producers).
    So yes, I personally believe in doing the best one can to mitigate all risk and produce the healthiest safest food, but feel that ALL responsibility of that risk should be taken up, ultimately by an informed consumer, that also does not hold public agency responsible (or opts out of public oversight).
    In regards to a third party standard…i.e. RAWMI…There are some issues here. The first of which, is that a standard body has little credibility when it is also used as a political organization. In this case, Mark runs the standard, holds the certification, and also…Has a huge personal stake being the biggest raw milk supplier in North America. And he is clearly very political. He is often the first person to comment on raw milk blogs, and not very neutral either. So it is clear there is a huge conflict of interest that needs to be addressed with such a standard before I feel it can be accepted. The same holds for what Michael was looking to do with Cow Share Canada, and now will likely look to re-name as RAWMI Ontario. These are organization that are questionable. And when assessing liability and risk, they have not done the things organizational to warrant credibility.

    Even if raw milk is legalized in Canada, either via sales or herdsharing, those that want to operate underground will still do so – legalization in Vermont reduced but didn’t entirely eliminate their “black market.” But other raw milk farmers will want to be able to be open about what they do, advertise it, grow their businesses, and be confident in their products. And pretty soon, more consumers will be asking asking “Can I see your test results?” before choosing a source for raw milk

    That is likely the best thing that can happen. A Raw milk production standard does not need to be mandated when anyone can simply boil their milk, or prepare their food as seen fit , while public agency holds the position of safe food preparation.
    However, as a `brand` that differentiates producers that consumers can seek out, that makes sense! Such `standard brands` (like VQA) can still maintain the their conflicts of interest and political bias and do what they do.
    The issue for the people that are either fighting in the courts or seeking legalization is entitlement. Where someone has gone through a substantial investment of time and money, they feel entitled to a bigger share of the `potential market`. In economic terms, they really can only bet their stakes on `first to market`advantage` (in terms of raw milk) as there is no means by which they can claim the market otherwise. And this is why, they tend to go up in production as fast as possible, when the coast is clear. And also why, they tend to look to differentiate themselves as being of a higher standard, or someone better or more special. All too often, discrediting those outside of their influence.
    Thanks for posing the questions.

  14. Peter

    Thanks for the link. Appreciated.
    I’m wondering, of the jurisdictions that have those standards, are any of them where raw milk was illegal, and then made legal? I wonder, because there are significant liability implications. I am not aware of such reversals, and am not surprised. This is because of the liability (and insurance) issues with doing that (the temporary local municipal declarations attempted in some US jurisdictions to overturn the illegality don’t count).
    It isn’t for the government to make the case for the raw milk community. It is for the raw milk community to make the presentation to the government (hint: publicly ridiculing the government, symposiums, signing declarations of rights, protests at Queens park, etc. are not it!). The government cannot give us our rights. They can really only make policy and regulations to protect the public. Failure to perceive, appreciate and respect appropriate powers, jurisdictions, liabilities, processes, as well as interests, is sure to result in failed diplomacy.

    • Tom Johnston

      I’ll make a prediction: Michael will now start using some some of the above terms with more prominence (appreciate and respect appropriate powers, jurisdictions, liabilities, processes, as well as interests), and appear to increase the emphasis on the need to be diplomatic. At the same time, he’ll start saying that “ridiculing the government is not the way to deal with the situation”, or something to that effect. I’ll suggest it starts this weekend at the symposium…

    • just a reader

      In Colorado, sales have always been illegal but herdshares were legalized via a bill introduced in 2005. WA state legalized sales in 2006. Vermont legalized in 2009. I’m not certain about other places, but these are three places with standards where legalization happened. Liability issues do not seem to have been a huge concern.
      As for the adversarial approach to government you describe, Peter, this approach is not universal. There are jurisdictions where raw milk communities are negotiating collaboratively with government in order to effect change, and are succeeding. But the quiet work that makes progress doesn’t make the newspapers – it’s not a single big event, not exciting, it’s just slow and steady work.

  15. moosemeadows

    Attending the last minute symposium, I am happy to see that it was not a Schmidt show. And that it in fact seemed to be of a different quality from which we have been use to.

    Encouraging

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