The raw milk issue in Ontario is no longer just about Michael Schmidt

In spite of the massive public profile Michael has gained over the past twenty years he has been advocating for raw milk and the freedom to choose it, the raw milk access issue in Ontario is much bigger than Michael Schmidt.

And The Bovine’s change of masthead picture reflects that reality. The young woman in the new cover picture is milking a cow in a jurisdiction where anyone can buy raw milk in a store, just like they would buy any other kind of milk. By the way, that’s in California, where Mark McAfee farms (though this picture is not from his farm).

Of course, the fact that this woman is clearly milking the cow by hand should be your first clue that this is not a commercial operation. Yes, this is taking place on a real farm which provides food (vegetables) for other people, but the cow and the milk are just for those who live on the farm and share in the work.

Would that be considered “distributing” in Ontario? You know, the offense that the proposed injunctions — the ones that will be before the courts on September 26th — want to criminalize.

The estimated 83% of Canadian dairy farmers who drink their own raw milk, and presumably share it with their families and workers seem to be mysteriously exempt from having to worry about whether they are “distributing”, in the sense of the Milk Act.

The editor himself has experienced this very practice. Back in the late seventies he worked for a dairy farmer in Eastern Ontario who came to Canada from the Netherlands to buy and run a small dairy farm of 40 or so milking cows near Iroquois, Ontario.

Now this farmer was a hard-core science guy, having been a professor at some agricultural college or university in Holland. He came to Canada because he wanted to actually farm rather than just teach people how to farm.

This farmer never bought milk from the store. In spite of the fact that he was a holder of quota and shipped milk to the Milk Marketing Board twice a week, he had no compunctions about draining off whatever he needed for himself, his wife and his farm worker, from the bulk tank and taking it into the farmhouse, where they all enjoyed drinking it, as if it was the most natural thing to do.

And of course it was the most natural thing to do. That’s why so many farmers do it. And not just the crunchy granola types either. Can you imagine the mental gyrations a farmer would have to go through to convince himself that buying milk from a store would be a better choice? A farmer knows these kind of things in his gut.

Now this farmer I worked for was not doing anything organic or biodynamic. He was using chemical fertilizer on his fields, and farming by the agriculture school book. And in all the months I was working there, no one ever got sick from the milk or even worried that they might have.

So that’s just a little snapshot of what probably goes down on countless dairy farms across the country. Now ask yourself, how does the raw milk get mysteriously more dangerous once you take it off the farm? — Editor

 

 

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