There was a full parking lot of cars not long after 3 pm as those Our Farm Our Food members who could, arrived early for a media event which included a photoshoot with a table full of documents from the court proceedings earlier this week (photo above). Continue reading
Aggrieved Farmers Exit Court, Citing Lack of Justice; News Conference Wed. Sept. 28th, 3:00 pm in Thornhill
Newmarket, Canada—September 27, 2016—At a two-day hearing at the Ontario Court of Justice Tuesday, in a dramatic turn of events, farmers walk away from the proceedings claiming the proceedings are not about justice.
The farmers, Elisa Vander Hout and Michael Schmidt, and representatives of Our Farm Our Food coop will hold a press conference on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 at 3:00pm 901 Rutherford Road Vaughan, Ontario, Canada at the Christian Community Church. At the press conference, Elisa Vander Hout will address the reasons that she withdrew her participation in the court proceedings and next steps for the farm owners. Continue reading
After an impassioned statement to the court and an exchange with the judge, first Elisa van der Hout, and shortly thereafter, Michael Schmidt declared that they were withdrawing from the court proceedings contesting the injunctions being sought by York Region and by the Milk Director of Ontario to shut down the “milk plant” at Glencolton Farms and the milk distribution in Thornhill and to criminalize those who transport raw milk or advocate its consumption.
These statements came around 11 am after the court had listened to a lengthy presentation by lawyer Davin Charney, who had been continuing his arguments from the day before as to why the the two applications for injunctions should be converted to an action. Mr. Charney was representing Markus Schmidt, Agricultural Renewal Coop, and the Christian Community Church. Continue reading
Raw Milk Motions Court Report from Newmarket, Sept 26th re: Michael Schmidt, Elisa, ARC, OFOF, and the Christian Community Church
Lately, it seems that every year about this time, something big goes down on the raw milk scene in the farmshare community around Michael Schmidt. Last year it was the Oct. 2nd 2015 raid on the farm in which the threatened removal of critical milking machines and other equipment by authorities was stayed only by a crowd of supporters blocking Michael’s driveway at the farm, willing to put themselves at risk of being arrested and charged. Five of them were later charged.
Also last year about this time there were run-ins with York Region Public Health officials at the Blue Bus drop off site at a church in Thornhill. At one point the inspectors reportedly wanted to confiscate all the farmshare’s milk, but settled for taking samples, presumably to prove that the milk products really were raw.
This year the excitement is around two full days in court (Sept. 26th and 27th) in Newmarket for the entertainment of motions related to the applications by Ontario’s Milk Director, and by the region of York, seeking to criminalize the continued operation of what they’re calling “a milk plant” at the farm, as well as the activities of distributing the milk and related products to members AND even the advocating of the consumption of raw milk. These applications, which are being heard in court now, are the outcome of the raids that took place last year about this time.
The parties named in the applications (for injunctions) are ARC (Agricultural Renewal Coop), the Christian Community church, Markus Schmidt, Elisa van der Hout, and Michael Schmidt, as well as any Jane Doe or John Doe who traffics in or advocates raw milk. The church, ARC and Markus Schmidt are represented by lawyer Davin Charney. Elisa and Michael are representing themselves.
The first motion heard on Sept. 26th was regarding a request by the Our Farm Our Food coop to be granted intervener status at the proceedings. This request was agreed to by the lawyers for York Region and the Milk Director.
However, a related motion, to have Lewis (Skip) Taylor represent the Coop in the proceedings, did attract some resistance and opposition. Usually a corporation (the Coop is a corporation) is required to appear in court represented by a lawyer, although with the court’s leave, a non-lawyer may be allowed to represent the corporation, depending on a number of factors which were discussed in detail in Mr. Taylor’s case, both by Mr. Taylor and by the lawyer for York Region. The judge did not appear to have made a decision yet on this question.
The next motion which was heard by the court was a request to convert the applications by York Region and the Milk Director into actions. The conversion into an action would mean that the case could be decided by a jury rather than by a judge.
Lawyer Davin Charney spent much of the afternoon on Sept. 26th putting forward arguments in favour of this motion. However the other parties at the Court have yet to weigh in on the matter. We can look forward to several more hours of argument and discussion on this motion tomorrow, Sept. 27th on which date the court will commence at 9:30 am and probably continue until 4:30 pm.
According to Michael and Elisa there has been interest expressed in covering this story by Global TV, CBC News, and the Globe and Mail newspaper. Unlike the last time, there was no rally or demonstration, and no cow being milked on the courthouse steps.
There were about 50 farmshare members and supporters on hand when the court proceedings got underway around 11 am on Sept. 26th. There were still a few empty spaces, but the crowd of supporters filled most of the available pews in courtroom 401.
Once again, food rights are on trial in the province of Ontario. Ontario’s Milk Director and York Public Health are asking the court to criminalize the production and distribution and advocating of raw milk.
Previously these had been merely regulatory offenses and advocating had not been an offense at all — merely the exercise of freedom of speech. If the requested injunctions are granted they will become criminal offenses, and those convicted of them will have a criminal record. We’re talking distributing or advocating for raw milk. Does that sound like the Canada you know and love?
Seventy members of the Our Farm Our Food Co-op (the latest incarnation of the farmshare organization of families who organize to help make it possible for raw milk to be produced at Glencolton Farms) have signed affidavits to be presented in court, attesting to the importance of raw milk in their lives.
Those affidavits are in support of a request to the court from the Our Farm Our Food Coop to be granted intervener status in the proceedings. Parties named in the proposed injunctions include Michael Schmidt, the Agricultural Renewal Coop (a workers coop of people who run the farm) and the Christian Community Church (where the milk has been distributed in Thornhill) as well as any John or Jane Doe who deals in raw milk, transports it, or advocates it.
There will be a motion before the Court — The Ontario Superior Court of Justice at 50 Eagle St. in Newmarket, right across from the Town Hall — to convert the application for approval of the injunctions, to an action. If that motion is granted, it would mean that the case could be heard by a jury rather than by a judge.
Michael Schmidt is asking people to demonstrate to the Court that this is a matter of public interest by showing up in Court and witnessing the proceedings, which will take place between 8:30 am and 4 pm this coming Monday Sept. 26th and Tuesday Sept. 27th.
As Trial Nears for One Farm, the Supporters Take Action on Raw Milk Policy and Access
Toronto, Canada– September 23, 2016—Raw milk itself is on trial, say supporters, at a Monday September 26, two-day hearing at the Ontario Court of Justice. The past year has seen an unprecedented rise in consumer awareness, demand, and action to obtain this food. Raw milk drinkers cite a number of reasons for drinking raw milk from health reasons and taste, to political. For some immigrants, raw milk is a staple food in their native country.
The Ministry of Health does not think anyone should be able to access raw milk or drinking the beverage. The hearing will be held in the court building at 50 Eagle Street, West, Newmarket, Ontario.
In January of this year, York Region, The Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry Health filed an application to get an injunction against the distribution or sale of raw milk against Michael Schmidt, Elisa Vander Hout, Glencolton Farms, Agricultural Renewal Coop and anyone who provides, distributes or recommends raw milk. The hearing is to determine if the applications can be converted into an action. If successful, this would change the dynamics of the procedure from a hearing to a proper trial. People interested in procuring raw milk want this case to appear before a jury. Our Farm, Our Food Coop, one of the many organizations in support of consumer choice, has filed a motion to intervene as an added party to the proceedings, which would give all members a voice to defend their right to the foods of their choice. Continue reading
The following message was circulated today to the farmshare community around Michael Schmidt and Glencolton Farms:
“We need your quiet presence in court on Monday, September 26 and Tuesday September 27, 2016
Michael Schmidt, Agricultural Renewal Coop, mothers, fathers, pastors and anyone involved in fresh milk production or consumption is threatened with arrest if they continue to provide raw milk or even encourage others to provide raw milk. The court proceedings are giving us a voice and we need YOU to stand with us. With 70 affidavits from farm owners, Michael and the attorneys are making the argument that this is a case of public interest. We need you there to help prove it!
Background: York Region put in a motion for permanent injunction against distribution of raw milk. There is a motion in front of the court right now to have the application from York region to converted from an application to an action. This would change the dynamics of the procedure from a hearing before a judge to a trial before a jury. We want this case to appear before a jury.
ACTION: Show the courts this is a case of public interest! Join us in peaceful presence as we witness court proceedings against Michael Schmidt, his family, the entire herdshare and food freedom itself. Your presence is the strongest message we can send.
WHEN: Monday, September 26 and Tuesday, September 27, 2016, 8:30a.m.-4:00pm each day
WHERE: Ontario Court of Justice, 50 Eagle Street West, Newmarket Ontario. Self-parking is available”