Guelph 2016 — Raw Milk Symposium

Thanks to the many speakers, farmers, consumers, guests, and media who took time out of their busy lives to convene January 30th, in Guelph, for yet another in what’s become a long series of raw milk symposia that began not long after the infamous 2006 raid on Glencolton Farms. In this brief report, we are not going to try to cover all the great information that was presented during the afternoon, but rather to give a flavour of the proceedings.

First speaker on the agenda was farmer Mark McAfee (shown speaking in the photo above), who, together with his wife Blaine, came all the way from California to participate in this symposium and to share with Ontario raw milk producers and consumers a bit of the wisdom he’s gained running what is now the biggest raw milk farm on the continent — with some 550 cows and 500 acres of pasture. Mark is also involved with the RAWMI standards group, and he shared some intel from that work as well. A video crew from TVO was on hand to record much of the proceedings.

One big difference from past symposiums of this sort, is the low key role played by Michael Schmidt, seen above sitting in the audience with his wife Elisa, and lawyer Karen Selick. Unlike Elisa and Karen, however, Michael did not make a speech, although he did ask a question from the floor at one point.

Public health policy researcher Nadine Ijaz (above) gave a very detailed presentation comparing Canada with other states, and raw milk with other foods, and risk tolerance of raw milk with risk tolerance for other hazards in life. The raw milk movement is blessed to have someone like Nadine beavering away at gathering this kind of knowledge and information.

Michael Schmidt has for years wanted to encourage authentic dialog with representatives of the public health community, and Professor Art Hill (photo above) fulfilled that role at this symposium, of articulating a more mainstream perspective — one that was clearly not so popular with the audience. Fortunately there were several voices, Nadine’s included, speaking up to thank Professor Hill for his participation and to underline the crucial importance of respectful dialog, when it comes to making progress in approaching common ground at the intersection of raw milk and public health.

Elisa Vander Hout (speaking in photo above) talked a bit about her own background. She had been a student at the University of Guelph not that long ago. She spoke about how at one point she was feeling that education had been a waste because it didn’t prepare her to do the kind of agriculture she felt called to do. And then she happened to hear Michael Schmidt speak at the University on his philosophy of agriculture, which of course, has led to their present collaboration.

Blaine McAfee (speaking in photo above) shared an understanding of raw milk that was informed by her background in nursing. She also spoke from the perspective of her present work in the quality control end of things at Organic Pastures farm, which she runs with her husband Mark McAfee, in California — where raw milk is legal, and has been for years.

Karen Selick (at podium above) gave a ten-minute legal analysis of the challenges facing raw milk in its future journey through the courts, at the end of the afternoon, after the panel discussion and questions. While she was doing that, the TVO folks took away their cameras and went off to the side to interview Professor Art Hill. Members of the audience objected, however, and the TVO crew stopped their interview and waited til the proceedings wrapped up, to continue interviewing Professor Hill (photo below).

The symposium was chaired by farmer Sean McGivern, who has also worked with the “Practical Farmers of Ontario“.

We should also mention that in the middle of the afternoon, Calvin Weber, of Listowel Ontario, presented a talk on raw milk that he had prepared for a project at his high school. It was well received by the symposium audience of about 100 people.









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7 responses to “Guelph 2016 — Raw Milk Symposium

  1. moosemeadows

    For me, I think the greater reason that Art Hill was not so popular was primarily that he was making a talk out of his introduction to a discussion panel. Albeit, he probably should have be given time and a place to bake a presentation, instead of having to make a presentation from a label introduction, which put his comments out of proportion and used up much of the discussion time.

  2. moosemeadows

    When I showed up, I thought I came into an Amway rally. The successful accomplished distributor and his wife, sharing his story, how he was just like us. And left us dreaming that we too could be like them if we just believe , work hard, and “support your up line”.

  3. OHHH Moosemeadows
    how miserable your life must be that all you can do is try to taint
    anything in your way. I wish you could find peace love and light within yourself. As I keep reading your missiles I just wish for you to find that space and just BE. I thought milking cows could actually help you to find that space.

    • moosemeadows

      ad hominem , ad hominem, ad hominononinem. Ad hom…

      I take it you have something against Amway? Or just me?

    • Tom Johnston

      Curious. I thought you knew who moosemeadows was (and your comment above seems to carry on in that tone). And you seemed to dispense with legal advise suggesting you were not to be in communication with this individual at all. But now you are reaching out and communicating with this individual. Seems to me that if you know who this individual is, and there is an order not to communicate with this individual, how are you now, as per your own comments/legal advise, not in violation of that order?

  4. thebovine

    It’s a good thing the Amways of this world don’t have a monopoly on positive thinking. Now that we’ve posted a video of Mark’s talk — not sure who we should thank for that video (it’s on the YouTube page of the Corporate Mystic) — folks can decide for themselves what they think of Mark’s talk:

    • moosemeadows

      Very up beat and motivational. As someone who has attending Amway conventions across North America in my teens the experience resonates. And interestingly enough the model may be appropriate for circumstances , where, like ne distributors selling to the friends and family there is a hard climb , anxiety , and risk

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