No More Raw Milk for Coop Members due to Injunctions Granted to Shut Down “Milk Plant” and “Distribution”

Glencolton Farms farmer Elisa van der Hout leads a group of OFOF Coop members on a tour of the dairy barn back in April of 2017.

Members of Our Farm Our Food Coop are in a tight spot due to injunctions granted  January 5th to Ontario Milk Director Gavin Downing and the Regions of York, Simcoe and Peel.

In short these injunctions would shut down the “milk plant” at Glencolton Farms and also criminalize continued “distribution” of raw milk in the Regions of York, Simcoe and Peel. The injunctions apply to anyone who has knowledge of the court ordered injunctions, so potentially these apply not just to the operations of Glencolton Farms and the Our Farm Our Food Coop (OFOF) but to any raw milk suppliers or cowshare groups.

One of the few media reports on the injunction that has appeared so far, has been a story in the Owen Sound Sun Times, titled “Court Stops Raw Milk Work“. It remains to be seen whether Milk Director Gavin Downing or representatives of any of the Regions (York, Simcoe, Peel) which asked for the injunctions, will take steps to publicize them, now that they have been granted by the court. Because, after all, the injunctions only apply to those who have knowledge of them.

In his 25 page ruling, Justice Sutherland said that the injunction originally asked for by the Regions was overbroad and that the injunction which he granted more closely followed the wording of the Health Protection and Promotion Act and the Milk Act.

Justice Sutherland described in some detail why he judged that the farm family exemption did not apply to members of the OFOF Coop, which is the latest of several different co-ownership structures that have been iterated over the years at Glencolton Farms in response to clues given by various judges about what wasn’t legal about the legal structure they were currently ruling on.

At a meeting of OFOF Coop members last night, Elisa van der Hout said that the Agricultural Renewal Coop — which is the worker coop that runs Glencolton Farms — would no longer be bottling milk, or processing the milk into other dairy products. In the short term at least, they will continue to milk the cows. But they will not defy the injunction so will not package or distribute that milk to OFOF members. Instead they’ll be feeding it to the pigs. That said, Michael Schmidt and Elisa van der Hout, and members of their blood-relation family will still be able to consume some of the milk in their own households, under the family farm exemption.

Also at last night’s meeting, board members of OFOF were very clear that they did not intend for the Coop to contravene the court injunctions. The purpose of the meeting was to inform members of the situation and to solicit ideas about what next steps might be appropriate under the circumstances.

Other media stories on the situation:

923The Dock – Newmarket Judge Rules in Favour of Raw Milk Injunction

The Ontario Farmer – Schmidt’s Raw Milk Shut Down

A letter to the editor in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record – Raw Milk is Outlawed, Meanwhile….

Seemingly zero coverage from  CBC, CTV, Global, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, National Post or Canadian Press, and it’s been nearly a week since the story broke.

Update Jan. 14th: Another news story about the injunction in the South Grey News, where Michael Schmidt was also named “Newsmaker of the Year” for 2017.

And there’s a short note on Country93’s Agriculture Report podcast.

And further down on the fourth page of Google search results, there’s this report on the Michigan Farm News, from January 11th.

Still no major Canadian media have reported on the story. That’s news in itself.

 

 

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