Update: On February 5, 2014, Michael he will be before a hearing of the Supreme Court of Ontario related to charges of distribution of raw milk. This hearing could be game changing for those of us who want to see herd/cow shares allowed as private contract. We’ll report when we know the outcome of this trial but we wish Michael the best in this and pray that the judges officiating will uphold our right to private contract with a farmer for food regardless of what kind.
If Michael loses this case, it means that other cowshare agisters throughout Ontario are vulnerable to facing similar charges for providing fresh milk to the shareholders (owners) of the cowshares which employ them.
In Ontario a farmer named Michael Schmidt has been in the courts for years fighting charges related to raw milk. Never before had any farmer stood up for so long for the sake of food freedom and raw milk. Schmidt has become a leader in the raw milk movement known all over the world.
Here is the story of what happened and is happening in Ontario.
In August, 1994, the Owen Sound Health Unit raided Michael and Dorothea Schmidt’s farm in Glencoulton, Ontario, seizing $800 worth of dairy products. The products were tested to prove that they were unpasteurized but no test was done to find out whether there were any harmful bacteria present. Charges were laid under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
An employee of the Schmidts’ surprised three men who were in the process of breaking into the cheese house. The employee was forced into a van and made to tell them where Michael Schmidt was at the time. Then they drove to that house, set up infrared cameras and listening devices, and stayed for half an hour. After this, employee was pushed out of the van and told not to tell anyone about the incident or “he would be sorry.” The Schmidts called the OPP for investigation but without results. Local farmers told the Schmidts that they had been asked if they would house surveillance teams. For a period of several months, vehicles were parked on the road close to the farm both day and night. Whenever farm personnel approached these cars, they took off. License plate numbers were recorded and passed on to the police who said they were unable to trace them.
Owen Sound Health Unit attempted to remove butter from the Schmidts private cooler. An exchange between the authorities and Michael ensued. The authorities left without the butter but the Schmidts were punished with more charges for defending their own food against confiscation. (Source: Sally Fallon’s Morell’s article “The Incredible Story of Michael and Dorothea Schmidt and Real Milk in Canada,” first published in the Summer 2001 edition of Wise Traditions, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, reprinted at http://www.realmilk.com/real-milk-canada.html)
In November 2006, armed agents again raided Glencolton Farms, poring through every building and structure on the property. They seized records, computers, and milk processing equipment. Michael was fined $3,500 and placed on two years probation.
On Thursday, January 21, 2010, Justice of the Peace Paul Kowarsky found Michael Schmidt not guilty and upheld the right of private contract in Ontario.
The crown appealed and on November 25, 2011 Michael Schmidt was again charged with distributing raw milk, fined $9,150 and put on probation for 1 year by Justice Peter Tetley, an appeals court judge of the Ontario Provincial Offences Court.
Karen Selick, the lawyer representing Michael Schmidt, asked for and was granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Ontario. Date for this appeal is pending.
Michael Schmidt and Gordon Watson were also tried in the courthouse in New Westminster in February 2013 (see “Our Cows Herdshare”) for contempt of court. For more ongoing news about Michael Schmidt, see “The Bovine: Freedom of Choice for Raw Milk Drinkers.”