This just in from Ontario raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt:
Eric, Judith and Michael Schmidt in Alberta, near Edmonton, earlier this winter.
February 23st is the day Judith and Eric will face again the courts in Edmonton Alberta to deal with the charges connected to their cow share operation.
What makes this event so crucial is the fact that they have become the perfect target for authorities for several reasons:
- They are very small and vulnerable
- They have absolutely no money
- They are still too small to have a great network of people to support them against Government harassment
Eric and Judith have been struggling their whole life against many odds and hardships. With the help of a circle of friends they established their little cow share operation on a shoe string budget. They experienced immense gratitude by the cow share members and at the same time great satisfaction to be able to farm and to serve a purpose. Continue reading
This is an excerpt from a New York Times article by Steven Erlanger titled “French Find Safety Nets Multiplying in Pastures“:
The French -- even non-farmers -- look to cattle as a stable investment in turbulent times. Photo: Philippe Schuller for the New York Times
“ST.-VICTOR-DE-CESSIEU, France — The French, known for their mistrust of banks, are not just stuffing money into mattresses in these anxious days of recession and minuscule interest rates. They are also putting their cash into cows.
For Pierre Marguerit, 60, cows make a safe, secure investment, allowing for long-term growth from a renewable resource. The cow contracts are hardly new, but go back to Richard the Lionheart; the French word for livestock, “cheptel,” is the root for “capital.”
These are not exactly cash cows. But investment in Mr. Marguerit’s Holsteins will bring a 4 to 5 percent return a year after taxes, he said, based on “natural growth” — the sale of their offspring. That compares to an interest rate now of 0.75 percent on the basic French bank account. Continue reading
Here is a letter that was sent out to cowshare members August 14th. Much of the money needed to finance the purchase of the 200 acres has already been committed. However more participants are still needed. I’m sure non-cow-share-members who also share an interest in the future of raw milk would be very much welcome to take part in this initiative. For more complete details see this earlier post.
Michael Schmidt speaks to cow-share members August 2009
Dear Cow Share Members [and friends of raw milk]:
For those of you able to attend, we hope you all enjoyed the meeting we had on August 4th in Richmond Hill and August 7th and as much as we did. It is very fulfilling to see the level of interest and commitment displayed, not only at this meeting, but over the almost 3 years since the raid and indeed, over the 20 years we have been privileged to work with many of you to bring you wholesome, healthy food. Continue reading
Right to Farm, Responsibility for Farming
Cow-share to farm-share. Lead picture from the new Glencolton Farms prospectus. See link at end of story.
Back in the 1970s, German banker Ernst Barkhoff outlined a new philosophy of agriculture. His starting point was the thought that each person, just by virtue of being born on the earth, had a right to the use of, and responsibility for the care of, a certain amount of land. Now Barkhoff recognized that, given the culture of our times, we were not all going to be farmers or homesteaders each cultivating our little plot of ground.*
Rather, as modern folk who choose to live in the city, we were going to delegate the care of our portion of land to a farmer who would care for it on our behalf. And because land has become a kind of reservoir for capital in our prevailing economic system, it would be necessary to ransom that land back from those who currently “own” it.
Thus the idea of a farm-share. A number of farms in Germany operate on the model Barkhoff outlined. People put up some thousands of dollars each to ransom a share of land for the use of a farmer who will farm it on their behalf. Of course, Barkhoff’s model goes beyond the issues of land ownership to the involvement of the members in the year to year financial responsibility for the farm operation and to the members then owning each a share of the produce and then deciding how it is to be distributed or sold and how it will be priced. The members leave to the farmer and his collaborators, responsibility for decisions having to do with the management of the farm.
Now Glencolton Farms is not implementing this model exactly, but I wanted to present it as a background to the direction in which Glencolton Farms is moving with their new farm share structure. Continue reading
Here’s a story by Lidia Waddington, from the Iowa Independent on the problems conventional dairy farmers are facing as the price paid to them falls to half of what it was, while the store price for dairy products remains the same. But first some commentary on their situation and that of raw milk farmers, from Yupfarming — For Dairy Farmers , damned if you do, damned if you don’t:
“Below is an article on the plight of most American dairy farmers – a near instruction manuel on how corporations get rid of farmers. Flood the market with cheaper imports, raise the price of all inputs, and there you have it.
Some dairy farmers escape this. They stay outside the system, taking nothing from the USDA, selling nothing to middlemen. Who are they?
Raw milk dairy farmers. They raise their cows, milk them, and sell direct to customers. They have no Dairy Farmers of America to contend with, no imports to compete with, little rising feed costs because their dairy cows often live mostly on grass. It’s a sane, clean, local system that is growing even in hard times, even with no advertising, even without obstacle after obstacle. And it’s a system that provides real food security for neighboring areas.
But they do have one problem – having mastered all the farming and economical ones – their own governnment is aggressively trying to destroy them. Continue reading