Ontario Attorney General appeals decision in Regina versus Schmidt
What every successful farmer needs to know… he will learn from his consumer
by Guest Blogger, Mark McAfee, Organic Pastures Dairy
Consumer’s needs are driving the demand for raw dairy
With the advent of the pasteurizer in 1893 (first called the parboiler) far more than bacteria were killed. The pasteurizer killed personal responsibility. The pasteurizer disconnected and marginalized the farmer and made his quality efforts irrelevant. The pasteurizer killed enzymes and good bacteria and nutritional values. The pasteurizer produced a dead partial food out of a once vital alive and complete whole food. The pasteurizer started milk markets toward a 100 year long slow death as more and more people could not drink dead milk and became sick from it.
This was a death marked by dairy lies that covered its own demise and cover stories of its false benefits and a racist blame game against broad categories of people for their innate deficiencies from a pasteurized dairy invented deficiency called “lactose intolerance” or “Lie” (abbreviated and very true in deed). Literally no one has lactose intolerance…instead it is “ pasteurization intolerance” and nearly anyone can drink raw milk just fine. Yet the dairy industry has invented a blame game that tells Asians and blacks and American Indians that they are not white enough to drink milk. That they have a deficiency. This is a false science and a huge dairy lie. It was their dead food product made toxic by their own shelf life extending technologies that was the problem. It was not the consumer’s fault, regardless of race. The pasteurized milk industry has created a racist blame game and this is the very tip of the iceberg ….many more lies lay deep in the political and economic game of selling dead food from industrial farms that do not know any of their customers, personally.
Farmers benefit when they listen to their customers
Last month I was visited by a raw milk dairyman that for 30 years had milked a thousand cows but three years ago had decided to follow his daughter's advice and started making raw goat cheese with many fewer animals.
He told me that listening to his daughter was the best thing he had ever done. By making and selling raw goat milk cheese he connected himself to the markets, the people, their taste and the value. He was no longer disconnected from the consumer, their money and choices as he once was for 30 years. He was one very happy guy and sold his cheeses nationally under his own brand. He was in California, visiting Cal Poly SLO. The very university that had preached the mega dairy dogma, “Get Big or Get Out” to so many California dairyman’s sons and daughters …was bankrupt and was now for sale. Yes, the University dairy had failed when it followed its own land grant, BST hormone, Monsanto based advice. The raw milk dairyman was going to visit the funeral and pick over the bones.
So goes the story of farm market systems in the USA. Farmers fail when they disconnect themselves from their consumers and their consumers nutritional needs. When pasteurizers and meaningless faceless brands get between the farmer and the consumer…there will be trouble and the trouble will rest on both the farmer and the consumers plates. The farmer becomes irrelevant and the consumer becomes malnourished. A bad food chain for all involved.
A new breed of farmer is beginning to emerge
What does this mean to the new farmer? This means that he must have marketing skills. That means people skills and the ability to write, speak with, and connect with people and listen to their needs and respond to those needs. This is radical speak. Aren’t farmers supposed to be conservative red necks stuck down on the farm tractor?…no way…. this is the route to certain disaster. Complaining at the coffee shop about the weather and the market is a pathway to losing the farm. Pushing the flesh at the farmers market with your ears wide open and a smile on your face is the path to an agronomically sustainable business plan. Practically anyone can learn to grow food but selling and education of others is a rare yet essential farmer’s skill. That’s the culture in agriculture and it is missing in America.
When ever a farmer connects with people and goes about meeting their needs he starts a raw revolution and all kinds of hell breaks loose. Look at the Amish that serve their communities with raw milk and other unprocessed whole foods. They have listened to the consumer and know that there is no lactose intolerance with raw milk and people want it raw.
A case in point, Michael Schmidt of Canada
Look at Mike Schmidt in Canada. He has been repeatedly beaten down by the politics of the Canadian milk system that bans raw milk not because of safety but because of market control. Look at us here at Organic Pastures Dairy in Fresno CA, we have grown every year since 2000 and 50,000 California consumers love us…why? Because we have listened to what they say and we have responded by producing food that they can eat, food that nourishes the inner ecosystem and rebuilds the immune systems destroyed by antibiotics and sterile food. We, just like Mike and the Amish know that people are literally sick of pasteurized milk…because it makes them sick and triggers allergies and asthma. We listened and we are now connected to our consumers and bypassing the commercial dead food chain.
There is so much that surrounds this topic and it is getting hotter and hotter. When ever money starts to change hands and the paradigm in power starts to lose control they scream bloody murder in their attempt to retain control. They will use any means possible to keep their money and their power as it falls away like sand through their fingers.
The organic movement was corrupted when industry got a hold of biodiversity and killed it at the factory when it needed to fix shelf life issues. Organic products are now some of the longest shelf life products on earth…they are ultra dead and they are not local at all.
Consumers, connect with your local farmers
As we pay respect and show our admiration for our farm leaders that include Mike Schmidt, Joel Salatin and others…remember that they produce living foods for living people that love them and connect to them. These farmers do not work from behind a pasteurizer and or from behind a brand that takes the profits and the truth of their existence from them. They stand proud and shake your hand and share the bounty directly with you and your gut says thank you with health and immune system integrity that can only come from the earth through the hands of a farmer that has a name and a family.
Go see the movie, FOOD Inc…it is mandatory viewing for everyone on spaceship earth. You must all know the truth about what is happening on board this very small earthly space ship. Someone is poisoning our limited supply of food and people are getting sick and business is profiting on both ends…the dead food and the illness it produces. The voice of a small minority know exactly what is going on and now it is an act of political disobedience to speak of it. It is radical speak condemned by the FDA and others in power.
Why are we relying on science from the 1890’s?
Now our finest scientists at NIH ( the National Institutes of Health, which is performing the $143 million dollar, five year, human bio-genome project) tell us that gut bacteria are essential to health and that using certain antibiotics destroy our gut immunity permanently (Dr. Young). So much for the killing technologies of 1893 being the saving grace of mankind. Now we find out that the tremendous biodiversity of good bacteria found in raw milk are critically essential to our immune systems and our health.
Give your farmer a hug and heal yourself with real food. Vote with your dollars and starve the paradigm in power.
Power to the people from the raw roots up.
Mark McAfee founded Organic Pastures Dairy Company in 2000, the first organic dairy in Fresno County, California. McAfee pioneered the concept of decentralized milking ( his Mobile Grade A Milk Barn goes out to the cows when it is milking time). His cows graze on a pasture based integrated organic farm with closed nitrogen loop, no lagoons and no concrete, just “clean and green pastures”. The operations now employ 40 people and provide retail ready raw organic dairy products to more than 400 California natural food stores including Wholefoods. Sales are growing at 20% or more per year and now exceed $5 million since being founded.
OPDC is the largest retail approved raw organic dairy products producer in North America. Mark McAfee is regarded by many in the industry as a foremost expert in raw milk safety and raw dairy product markets and technology. Mark is known for bold leadership and was the first milk producer to ever post sensitive bacteria count numbers on a website for the world to see. Mark has made formal presentations on raw dairy issues to legislative bodies, national and international conventions in Canada and Melbourne Australia and or Universities (including Stanford medical school and Rutgers), and fifteen of the United States. Media credits include: ABC’s 20-20 and CBS evening news with Katie Courick.
Mark and his wife Blaine have been married for 25 years and have two children, Aaron 24 and Kaleigh 21, both are fully involved in the creamery and marketing operations.
Mark also helped found the RAWUSA.ORG raw milk production standards. RAW USA.ORG was developed and founded to assist raw milk producers with producing safe raw milk and also allow the consumer to identify these living and safe foods. In more than 100 million servings not one pathogen has ever been found in OPDC raw milk. Visit their website: www.organicpastures.com or call 1-877 RAW MILK
This post is part of the Natural Cures Tuesday blog carnival, and Michael Schmidt Month on Hartkeisonline.com
For Michael Schmidt, it’s about more than milk
When talking to Michael Schmidt, you can sense the pride he carries when it comes to milk. The 54-year-old organic farmer is not scared of the repercussions of his raw milk trial – nor will he ever quit.
Last December, Schmidt was convicted of defying a court order by continuing to distribute raw, unpasteurized milk from his 30 cows. The result was $55,000 in fines which, according to his website, he doesn’t plan to pay.
"No, I will not pay and I will not resist whatever befalls me," said Schmidt.
Now, Schmidt must focus on 20 charges against him for the illegal sale of raw milk. Although the six-day raw milk trial wrapped up less than two months ago, Schmidt will have to wait to hear whether he, his cows and his 150 cow-share members will be permitted to continue their venture.
Both Schmidt and the prosecution have asked to see transcripts of the proceedings before they prepare final written submissions. Schmidt has until May 19 to file his final arguments, and the Crown has until June 16 to file its written reply.
He has also made a constitutional challenge against Canada's mandatory pasteurization laws, arguing that the outright ban on selling raw milk violates his rights.
The Crown's final witness, Dr. Jeffrey Wilson, an associate professor at the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph, testified that pathogens in raw milk can be transmitted to humans, which makes it a public health risk.
Schmidt suggested that informed consumers should be able to buy raw milk, just as they can buy raw meat.
"If they have to admit that raw milk is perfectly safe to drink, it is like egg in their face." said Schmidt.
Health officials say raw milk carries the risk of contamination and spreading of salmonella, E. coli and Listeria monocytogens – none of which have ever been found on Schmidt’s farm.
Schmidt has always been looking for ways to ensure a safe product. It was in 1995 when the Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) turned down his bid to research raw milk in order to create guidelines for safe distribution.
"I repeatedly approached them and proposed constructive guidelines and legislature. But they don’t want to go there. Because once they do and realize that raw milk is safe then the whole house of cards will come down," he said.
DFO Spokesperson, Bill Mitchell, is well aware of Schmidt’s case and recalls Schmidt meeting with the Milk Marketing Board on at least one occasion. Mitchell said that Schmidt is breaking the law and putting public health at risk.
"And this is the problem with the freedom of choice argument: If you got a two-year-old that consumes raw milk and that kid goes to daycare, everyone in daycare can pick up the contamination. It wasn’t my right to choose if I get contaminated," Mitchell said.
But Schmidt has other proof as to why raw milk is not hazardous and, in fact, advantageous to ones health.
"It is very difficult to produce dangerous raw milk. It has built an immune system through the lactic acid bacterias. When you pasteurize milk there are no antibodies left," he said.
Schmidt believes there is an underlying issue when it comes to finding an honest and fair judgment over the raw milk dilemma.
"I think it is a question of control over a monopoly of milk. It is a political posturing. It has nothing to do with the safety of the product," he said.
Mitchell also believes there is something fishy beneath the surface of Schmidt’s argument.
"A farm his size selling milk at his prices makes half a million dollars a year…It’s all about the money," said Mitchell.
This ‘he said, she said’ duel likely won’t be put to bed when Schmidt’s final verdict is revealed. One thing that can be said of Schmidt’s fight is that he is not ready to quit, even if he is found guilty and jailed.
You Are What You Eat
Food safety has been under the watchful eye of the Canadian public due to the listeria bacteria contamination at Maple Leaf Food Company plants across Canada. The contaminations have killed up to 20 Canadians and have steamrolled plans for more conservative food safety guidelines.
In Canada, Health Minister Tony Clement introduced Bill C-51 and C-52 in 2008. The two bills were introduced to amend the Food and Drugs Act and included the regulation and research of natural health products.
Defiant critics, namely the Canadian Natural Health Coalition, opposed the two bills, protesting the consumer product safety plans as being "undemocratic." Both bills were declared dead at the second session of the 39th parliament. But the consumer product safety issue did not die with them.
At the same parliamentary session, two new bills pertaining to food safety were introduced. The first, bill C-6, allows the Canadian government to regulate food safety at the Health Minister’s behest.
According to the bill, the government that is to regulate the bill can be defined as the federal government, a corporation, a provincial or aboriginal government, a government of a foreign state or an international organization of states.
The impending bill opens up opportunities for foreign institutions to regulate Canadian food and drug safety. Upon visiting Health Canada’s website, one can find the support for the Codex Alimentarius - a universal globalization of food standards.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations have mandated these Codex guidelines for any country part of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Bill C-6 gives commissions like Codex allowance to control food policy - making it a globalized issue, rather than a national one.
On their website, the Codex guidelines list the health risks and benefits of everything from nutrients to toxins. The commission meets in Calgary in early May to discuss regulations regarding food labeling.
Schmidt is well aware of Codex, describing it as "bad news." His trial is going to be a defining moment in food safety and is sure to disrupt the more conservative regulation of foods.
When asked what it will take for the public to be free of misguided policy, his answer was simple.
"Grassroots revolution! That is part of our philosophy. If we don’t stand up now, we will be sold out completely. There are examples in history on how you can battle the ‘giants.’ It is by pure determination and by not being afraid," he said.
Raw milk -- it's good for discussion, and maybe even for your body
National Post newspaper
People from around the world were watching us last week during the seven day trial of Michael Schmidt of Glencolton Farms in Ontario, Canada. Michael chose to defend himself against 19 charges of selling, distributing, storing and displaying raw milk as well as failing to cease and desist with his program for the past 12 years. The trial took place in a provincial regulatory court that commonly tries traffic offences. The space was transformed by high drama as the singular famer took on the complexities of the trial pitted against 8 government lawyers.
During the first three days of the trial where the Milk Act violations were dealt with, the government lawyers were awestruck at his ability to cross examine the two undercover investigators who had infiltrated his cowshare program. They had expected him to stumble over the protocols of the courtroom. Instead he was at ease with the procedural aspects of the court and able to zero in on the substantive issues that will move his case forward into the higher courts. Thursday and Friday of the week were dedicated to the Section 7 Charter Challenge that Michael has launched against the court.
Michael and his cowshare owners are claiming that the Milk Act is overbroad and too far reaching in claiming that raw milk is a hazardous substance and that an absolute ban is necessary. The Milk Act, by being overbroad is thereby infringing the rights of consumers. Since he was the applicant in this part of the trial he was able to lead off with two expert witnesses, Dr. Ted Beal and Dr. Ron Hull who testified to the nature of raw milk as being health-giving and pointing out the fact that farm practices are pivotal in producing a safe and healthy product. They were able to debunk some of the Crown's expert testimony that raw milk can never to safe by making a critical distinction between raw milk that is destined to be pasteurized (pre-pasteurized) and milk that is meant to for human consumption and go directly to consumers (farm fresh unprocessed raw milk). We believe that this distinction will be significant in this case.
There are two days remaining in the trial. The ruling will be reserved and we can expect to receive the ruling by May 2009. We are well aware that this decision is highly influenced by the court of public opinion and so we are pleased that the Canadian media has been covering this court case very favorably. Polls taken by the press consistently show that the majority of public opinion is in favour of the right to choose.
On Saturday, 150 people attended the first International Symposium on Raw Milk at University of Toronto. This historical event raised the scientific bar and shifted the rhetoric considerably in the debate. The speakers were able to look at all aspects of the debate. We are now planning the second International Raw Milk Symposium in Fresno California in the spring of 2010 and the third in Melbourne Australia. The purpose of each of these symposiums is to establish international raw milk standards for production and distribution and to review the current status of research and consumer claims of the health benefits of raw milk
Shauna Rae (CJBK rado, London Ontario) interviews Pam Killeen about Michael Schmidt's raw milk legal battle and the corruption in science.
January 29, 2009
Last month, Ontario farmer Michael Schmidt was sentenced to pay $55,000 for contempt of court. He had persisted in delivering unpasteurized milk to the members of his cow-sharing program, contrary to a court order. He goes to trial today [ Jan 26 2009 ] on his main charges of violating the Milk Act and related legislation.
What's a person to do when the laws themselves are contemptible, and the people who hold the power to change them are behaving contemptibly?
Twenty years ago, Toronto furrier Paul Magder answered that question this way: You continue doing what you believe is right until the lawmakers finally smarten up. Magder racked up huge contempt fines merely by opening his store on Sundays. But the province eventually yielded to public pressure and legalized Sunday shopping. The sky didn't fall, and today Ontarians take Sunday shopping for granted.
I see Michael Schmidt as the Paul Magder of this era -- the unsung hero who will make it possible for us, 20 years hence, to say, "Was it not always thus?"
I've spent an inordinate amount of time reading up on raw milk to avoid embarrassing myself in case it was simply a harebrained idea. Having done so, I'm convinced that Schmidt is right and the lawmakers are wrong.
In a nutshell, the position in favour of raw milk is this: Pasteurization is not necessary to ensure milk safety. While it may have been the simplest way for inspectors to ensure that certain pathogens were killed back in 1938 when Ontario made it mandatory, we now have better ways of testing to ensure the absence of disease-causing organisms in milk. Pasteurization doesn't eliminate harmful bacteria, it just kills them -- or at least, most of them. Dead bacteria floating in your milk create their own panoply of health problems, most notably allergic reactions. Meanwhile, unpasteurized milk produced by grass-fed cows under proper hygienic conditions contains beneficial bacteria and digestive enzymes that can markedly improve human health. Such milk is also, apparently, quite delicious, although more expensive than factory-farm milk. Consumers should have the option to choose whichever product they prefer.
Ontario Agriculture Minister Leona Dombrowsky is one of those contemptibly behaving lawmakers who apparently has not seen fit to do the research I've done. Her position on raw milk is that legalizing it would be "tantamount to manslaughter."
Does Dombrowsky really think the governments of the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany and 27 states in the U. S., all of which allow the sale of raw milk, are committing manslaughter? In parts of Europe, certified raw milk is even sold in vending machines. European consumers aren't dropping like flies.
What level of safety would satisfy Dombrowsky and her Ontario government colleagues? If their answer is that only a history of zero illnesses is acceptable, then the government should ban all milk -- pasteurized, too. The U. S. Center for Disease Control documented 41 illness outbreaks affecting 19,531 people attributable to pasteurized milk and milk products between 1980 and 2005.
And milk is far from the worst offender. Seafood, beef, poultry, pork and even vegetables cause significantly more illness than milk. Within recent memory in Ontario, consumers have been warned not to eat tomatoes, mung bean sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, lettuce and spinach. But the government has not reacted by banning such foods altogether, or insisting that they only be sold pre-cooked, as they insist with milk. That would be absurd. Rational remedial action consists of tracking down and recalling the contaminated product, and testing diligently to prevent recurrences.
We allow food processors to deliberately add bacteria to milk to produce products such as yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, sour cream and cheese. Obviously, we trust these manufacturers to ensure that the bacteria they inject are the beneficial ones, not the killer ones. If the precautions they use are sufficient, surely there must be comparable precautions for raw milk. Michael Schmidt has, in fact, produced raw milk for 25 years without a single incident of illness.
Given these facts, it's incumbent upon the government to at least conduct an inquiry into whether the laws passed 70 years ago could stand updating to take advantage of technological change. Conservative MPPs suggested this in December, 2006, but Liberals responded that it was a "crazy idea." They've never heard of progress, apparently. Contemptible? Absolutely.
National Post January 26th 2009
Raw milk runs on community support
from thebovine.wordpress :
Here’s the slightly edited text of a comment I made on David E. Gumpert’s The Complete Patient blog, in response to his story about the showing of the raw milk movie in California
What’s our metaphor; what’s our narrative?
From folks like George Lakoff – author of “Don’t Think of an Elephant” — we learn how people think in metaphors, how “framing” developed in right-wing think tanks slants public policy debates almost imperceptibly — as in the phrase “tax relief”; we learn how communications work best when we can fit our message into one of the archetypal “narratives” of our culture, narratives that have already worn tracks, as it were, in the public mind. That’s why we have cultural theorists like Camille Paglia talking about how, in the public mind, Sarah Palin was playing the role of “frontier girl”.
So what’s all this have to do with raw milk?
What I thought was most interesting about David Gumpert’s review of the Michael Schmidt raw milk movie was his view of the raw milk farmer as a solitary figure, fighting a lone and lonely battle. I’ve heard that before, but I’ve heard it as a criticism of this otherwise great movie – that it places undue emphasis on the heroism of Michael and fails to adequetely include the supporting community of cow share holders and others who’ve been instrumental and important in getting the story as far as it’s so far gone.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love this move. And not just because I’m into raw milk. Although generally I don’t get that much satisfaction from documentaries, this one seems to have sufficient authentic drama, and enough of a story arc to make it work as an artistic as well as an educational experience.
But back to our metaphor, our narrative. The story of raw milk farmer as maverick, as organic hero, while it does bear an element of truth, doesn’t tell enough of the story we need to tell. I think it’s really the community element that’s most amazing, that’s most influential, and that’s the most scary to those on the regulatory, government end of things.
The article by David E. Gumpert from Business Week in which the farmer collapsed from the trauma of dealing with police and cowshare holders took over running the farm and distributing the milk, is the best example I’ve seen to show the role of supporting community in the raw milk struggle. Here’s the link to our post on that story.
And in the Michael Schmidt case, in the recent contempt of court trial, we heard the local public health official tell the court that the reason they didn’t go on the bus to seize the milk was that the people in the bus wouldn’t let them on. He didn’t mention that the people wouldn’t let them on because they didn’t have a search warrant. But still, we’re as far ahead as we are today because cowshare holders stood their ground. And for pretty much a whole year, cow share member escorted Michael’s blue bus to and from Richmond Hill every week – a two-hour drive each way. I think that made an impression on the regulatory and law enforcement folks.
And just a couple weeks ago, twenty-some supporters showed up downtown at five o’clock on a weekday to parade around Toronto wearing cardboard cow heads to help promote the local premiere of the raw milk film at the Planet in Focus festival. That’s commitment.
Crowds ranging from 30 to 80 have sat through court proceedings, gone to demonstrations and press conferences and just generally made their presence felt. While we recognize the heroism of farmers like Michael Schmidt, who are putting their livelihoods and their liberty on the line for raw milk, I think we need to find a way to include the community support factor in our narrative, because ultimately, that’s the kind of “social proof” that’s going to sway the public mind to come ’round to supporting the raw milk freedom we’re all working towards.
Raw milk man fined $55,000
A southern Ontario milkman has been fined $55,000 for selling milk straight from a cow’s udder.
In October, Michael Schmidt, a 54-year-old organic farmer, was convicted of defying a court order by continuing to sell raw, unpasteurized milk from his 30 cows. He was informed of the fine — $5,000 on the charges and $50,000 for court costs — last week.
He said he intends to appeal the conviction and will continue to provide milk to his customers. “It takes more than that to stop me,” the raw-milk activist said today.
He will be holding a press conference Wednesday at Queens Park.
He faces 22 charges at another trial in January, following a raid on his farm by armed Ministry of Natural Resources officers in 2006.
The farmer, whose supporters say they have raised $120,000 for his defence, said he is eager to confront authorities about the public safety of milk.
For 14 years, Mr. Schmidt, who grew up in Germany, has struggled for the right to sell unpasteurized milk, forbidden under laws governing the production and sale of milk.
He said 150 families each own a share in cattle, who graze on pasture in Grey County about 200 kilometres northwest of Toronto. The shares allow each family to a share of a cow’s milk production.
Canada is the only country in the G8 that requires pasteurization of all milk, he said.
“People need to decide for themselves what is good for their body and what is not good,” he said. “Unpasteurized milk, compared to any other food, has a much higher safety standard than most foods.”
In May, 2007, applying the Health Protection and Promotion Act, a court ordered Mr. Schmidt to stop “offering for sale, selling or distributing, unpasteurized milk and unpasteurized milk products in the jurisdiction of York Region.”
Mr. Justice Cary Boswell of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice said York region did a “flawed” job of trying to prove Mr. Schmidt defied the order; they did not seize any milk products to be tested.
But Mr. Schmidt convicted himself, the judge said, with comments he made to the Toronto Sun proving that his farm still sells raw milk.
Conservative MPP Randy Hillier posted a note of support on his Web site for Mr. Schmidt, calling him a “man of conscience and conviction.”
He said the Ontario government has an obligation to review its legislation surrounding raw milk, which is has not been re-visited since 1939
By Melissa Leong, National Post
Soon after dairy farmer Michael Schmidt was found in contempt of court yesterday [ October 20th 2008 ] for distributing raw milk, he joined supporters in a toast outside the Newmarket courtroom.
The glasses were filled with fresh, creamy, unpasteurized milk.
"Here's to the real milk," said Judith McGill, one of a dozen on hand to support the farmer at his first of two trials focused on raw milk distribution.
"Here's to everybody," said Schmidt, taking a sip of the liquid pumped at his farm that morning. "We will continue with what we're doing."
Last month Schmidt went on trial after the Region of York filed a contempt charge against him for failing to obey a May 2007 court order not to distribute raw milk within its borders.
Schmidt runs a co-operative venture near Owen Sound with about 150 cow-share members. He said he does not sell or distribute, but simply provides the raw milk to the cows' owners, who pay to board the 300 cows at his farm.
The sale of untreated milk is illegal across Canada. Health officials say it carries the risk of salmonella, E. coli and Listeria monocytogenes.
Justice R. Cary Boswell found Schmidt in contempt, but reserved sentencing for a later date.
In his decision, Boswell said his ruling was not on whether people have the right to consume raw milk, but whether Schmidt intentionally defied the court order to stop selling it.
Dan Kuzmyk, lawyer for the region, suggested a $5,000 fine and payment of the region's $53,000 legal bill.
"I think that Mr. Schmidt should be given the opportunity to purge his contempt," said Kuzmyk.
"We asked specifically that the court consider incarcerating him for four to six months. (But) in the meantime, give him a chance to comply to the order, get legal counsel ..."
Schmidt represented himself in the three-day hearing in September.
The farmer said he was willing to bear whatever punishment gets imposed on him, including jail time – challenging the judge to levy "the highest penalty you can find."
"I'm prepared to pay any amount," said Schmidt. "It's ridiculous people in this country can't decide what they want to drink and eat," he said.
In court, after Boswell rendered his decision, Schmidt spoke out in support of raw milk, likening his movement to that of Mahatma Gandhi and civil rights activist Martin Luther King.
"It's not the milk, it's the principle that people need to make the decision what they put in their bodies. When government tells them what they are allowed to eat or not eat, that's a very sacred thing," said Schmidt, elaborating outside the courtroom.
The farmer said he intends to again handle his own defence in the next trial, scheduled for 2009, involving 20 charges laid by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Grey-Bruce Health Unit after a raid at his farm in 2006.
The charges centre on the storage, production and distribution of raw milk.
Schmidt says he'll await sentencing on yesterday's verdict and plans to appeal it.
In the meantime, he vowed the milk on his farm will continue to flow
these reports - below - are very good news for owners in the dairy herd, herre in British Columbia
It gives us comfort while continue to get our REAL MILK even while a Cease+Desist Order hangs over the head of our Agister
a contempt of Court charge is a "show cause hearing" in which the Accused Contemnor has the burden of disproving that he has committed contempt
With a Prosecutor unlimbering that kind of heavy artillery, had Michael Schmidt not been backed up by very favourable media exposure, it would have been business-as-usual in Her Majesty's Court .... he'd have been sent off to the cells to await a day when there was enough time to have the thing aired-out properly.
Contempt of Court is very hard to beat. The fact that he got to go home and sleep in his own bed, telegraphs that - behind the scenes - they know Michael Schmidt has won the contest for public opinion. Publicity is the soul of Justice. Now the Powers-that-Be have to find a way to extricate themselves with minimum embarassment
a quarter of a century ago when I got sucked-in to the maelstrom of the 'legal system', I was a purist. I thought that the game was a noble one, played strictly by the Rules. Then ... I thought that attempting to influence the Court from outside the box, was very bad form, and improper. I don't think that now. Judges are human. They don't live in a vaccum. They cannot help but pay attention to the mood of the public. Therefore I urge everyone who can manage to do it, to be in Newmarket Ontario in September and lend support. The world belongs to those who show up
Big victory for raw-milk activist Schmidt
Raw milk activist Michael Schmidt won a brief reprieve from his legal troubles yesterday, when a judge pushed his court date back six weeks and refused to enforce an earlier order that the farmer cease and desist.
“I think it’s a big victory,” Mr. Schmidt said outside court.
Mr. Schmidt was in Newmarket court to face contempt-of-court charges for allegedly breaching a court order requiring him to stop his unpasteurized milk operations. If found guilty, he faces possible jail time.
Mr. Schmidt has drawn official ire with his “cow-share” system, which allows clients to purchase a cow, pay for its upkeep and then collect raw milk and its products. He is accused of violating the Health Protection and Promotion Act by selling and distributing raw milk. That case is slated to go to trial in January, 2009.
The contempt charges stem from a court order last year requiring Mr. Schmidt to cease his raw milk operations.
Yesterday, Justice Michael Brown said that since “fundamental facts were in dispute,” the case would require more time, and he re-scheduled the case for Sept.10-12.
Judge Brown refused the Crown’s request that he order Mr. Schmidt to abide by the earlier order.
The decision sent approving rumbles through the full courtroom, where more than 50 cow-share owners had shown up to support Mr. Schmidt.
“I think the system is letting us down,” said cow-share owner David Hillesheim
By Jenny Wagler, National Post
Another report from the Canadian Press
Contempt case for Ont. farmer who provided raw milk demands trial: judge
NEWMARKET, Ont. — A contempt of court case against an Ontario farmer accused of selling raw milk is too serious to deal with without a trial, a judge ruled Thursday.
Instead, Superior Court Justice Michael Brown rejected a request from the municipality of York Region to find Michael Schmidt in contempt and put the case over for a three-day trial in September, when the court can hear from witnesses.
"One of the sanctions you are seeking is that this man be jailed," Brown told Dan Kuzmyk, the lawyer for the municipality.
"I would be hard-pressed under these circumstances to prevent him from calling evidence."
The region maintains that Schmidt, of Durham, Ont., is in contempt because he has refused to obey a court order that he comply with a May 2007 directive from public health authorities to refrain from selling unpasteurized milk.
Schmidt still faces a trial in January related to an armed raid on his farm in November 2006 when health officials seized his milking equipment.
The raid and charges against him have opened an emotional debate, with supporters touting the health and taste benefits of unpasteurized milk, and public health officials arguing the danger of E. coli or other poisoning from raw milk is real.
"This is an important issue for the future of choice in food," said Richard Chomko, of Richmond Hill, Ont.
With about 50 of his supporters in the courtroom - many wearing "freedom of choice" buttons - Schmidt, of Durham, Ont., told the judge he was "appalled" the regional municipality was pressing the contempt case now.
Kuzmyk attempted to persuade the judge to move on the contempt matter, saying no trial was needed.
"We have incontrovertible evidence," Kuzmyk insisted. "We have photographs."
Brown refused to bite, saying Schmidt should have the right to challenge the evidence at trial.
Outside court, Kuzmyk said the farmer was "thumbing his nose" at health-unit and court orders - behaviour that constituted a threat to the "very fabric" of a democratic society.
Schmidt called the ruling a "big victory," saying he was glad the judge understood the issues at stake.
While selling raw milk is illegal in Ontario, it is not illegal to drink it if you own the cow and many farmers do.
As a result, Schmidt has sold part ownership in the animals - "cow shares," as they're known in some circles - and argues he is selling milking and distribution services, not the milk itself, to people who otherwise would have no access to a cow.
"People can make a choice for themselves," Schmidt said as he stood in front of the blue converted "raw milk" bus that delivers the milk and other organic produce to the Toronto area.
Toronto mother Shirley Ann Wood said it would be "devastating" and "very sad" if Schmidt ended up in jail but said the raw-milk "movement" would persist.