Help change Federal raw milk law!

After many years, the Canadian government is finally allowing electronic petitions. We are petitioning the federal Minister of Health to review and change the law which bans all raw milk sales across Canada.

Let’s get 50,000 signatures, to prove to the Government that there is huge public support for food freedom. We are now only at 2100, and there are 36 million Canadians to reach. We can do it!

If you support food freedom, small farmers, local agriculture, and the right of Canadians to access farm-fresh unprocessed milk, please go to http://petitions.parl.gc.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-289  and add your signature.  Send to all your family and friends as well!

Petition to the Minister of Health

Whereas:
  • Humans have been consuming locally produced raw milk for thousands of years and have enjoyed the health benefits included therein, and raw milk contains enzymes and beneficial bacteria (probiotics) that are destroyed during the pasteurization process;
  • Large scale industrially-produced dairy products present greater health risks which must be managed through pasteurization; milk produced on a small scale through local farms is subject to significantly lower risk levels;
  • Health Canada’s existing policy and regulatory framework fails to differentiate between these risk levels and prohibiting the sale and distribution of raw milk is not a reasonable approach and the risk profile for raw milk is lower than other foods available to consumers; and
  • Canada is the only G8 country that prohibits the sale of raw milk to consumers, any health risks associated with locally produced milk are being managed effectively in other jurisdictions through the use of appropriate evidence based standards and certification programs.The Government of Canada can learn from these successes, and Canadians should have the freedom to choose to purchase pasteurized or raw milk.
We, the undersigned, Citizens of Canada, call upon the Minister of Health to Modernize and amend the Food and Drugs Act and the corresponding Food and Drug Regulations, to permit the legal sale of, and/or access to, raw (i.e. unpasteurized) milk and milk products through small scale certified herd share programs, or other such suitable arrangements, capable of managing any associated health risks in a responsible and reasonable manner.
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Raw Milk Campaign in BC

There is a letter-writing campaign taking place in British Columbia, to write to B.C.’s Minister of Health, Dr. Terry Lake, asking him to repeal Clause 2(a) of the Health Hazards Regulation, the law which classifies all raw milk as being a “health hazard” subject to penalties of up to 3 years in jail or a $3 million dollar fine  (See our previous article, “How Raw Milk is Criminalized in B.C.“).

This is the law under which agister Alice Jongerdon was charged. Since then, other agisters have been serves with notices by inspectors working for the regional Health Authorities as well.

Click here to check out the letter writing campaign, and please forward to all your friends and family in B.C.

 

Open Dialogue Is A Giant Step Forward – Science to Policy Symposium at the University of Guelph

Raw Milk – Open Dialogue Is A Huge Step Forward

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On April 22, 2014, the University of Guelph held a Science To Policy Symposium with raw milk as the case study.  Approximately 90 people attended.  As far as could be determined 90% of these people were from Public Health, CFIA and interested scientists.  The other 10% were raw milk advocates and supporters.  For a list of the presenters and other information about the symposium, go to this link http://ennect.com/e2340.  Before you read this you might want to read the bios of these speakers.  Since I will be adding my own comments to the sections related to what each speaker said, I will bold type my comments within the areas designated to each speaker so that you know this was not something the speaker said or alluded to but is my interpretation of what was said or my opinion. You can assume the other paragraphs are my own unless I quote someone specifically.  I am doing this in order to be clear and to avoid misunderstandings by those of you who were not able to attend or listen in.  Not a perfect science obviously but simply my attempt at being transparent in this report.

I am writing this report for the raw milk consumers and will not go through all the data presented although I will go into some.  There was a lot of the usual statistics and risk talk that we are very used to hearing from Public Health.  I will not talk about all the charts and figures but rather on the themes and positive, to me at least, aspects of these talks.  I was the only person from the Canadian Consumer Raw Milk Advocacy Group in the room so as I write this report, know that these are my interpretations of what happened and not “our” interpretations.  Both Dr. Chapman and Dr. Lydia Medeiros spoke to consumer perception and I will go into that when I tell you about their presentations, which I thought were awesome by the way, as my interpretation is certainly that of a consumer.  I smile as I say this because I realize I could be a poster child for their definition of a raw milk consumer’s profile. :0)   Both these doctors did an excellent job of explaining to the scholars in the room where they are going wrong with us in terms of their messaging.  I’m sure there will be a lot of discussion about the day by others with similar or different opinions.  I’m not a scientist but I know that the scientists who are raw milk or freedom of choice supporters were either in the room or on the webinar.  There was some talk of the University doing a written report on the day that might include the slides from the presenters and it sounded like that would happen.  I think that the sponsors of this day were as surprised as we were at how well it went.  As Michael Schmidt has said many times, we all want the same thing and we just need to talk honestly to come to a common ground that can satisfy everyone.

Before I get into the story about the day, a very interesting dynamic happened within that room.  We were asked some specific questions at the beginning of the day and were given little clickers to answer these questions so that they showed up on graphs on the screen in front of us.  An amazing thing happened.  The first question was if we believed that consumers should have the right to choose raw milk.  Then at the end of the day that question was asked again only this time it was worded something like this “after the conversations today, are you more likely to agree that consumers should have the right to choose this food”.  The wording was different and unfortunately I didn’t think to write it down but that was the main drift.  At the end of the day the graph for yes was MUCH higher than it had been at the beginning of the day.  Now remember I just told you that it was estimated that 90% of the people in that room were on what we consider to be the other side.  So my question is, did the results of the talks at the symposium sway a few more people towards at least acknowledging that the evidence isn’t quite there to support this food being prohibited completely?

When Lance Schultz came to me to see if I could get he and his friend Dennis Curtis an appointment to speak to Michael Schmidt, I was excited at the prospect of a symposium such as this.  They cautioned me that they had to get this past the ethics board and there was no guarantee the proposal would fly with the University.  Well they managed to pull this off and we are very grateful to them.  I thanked in person Art Hill, one of the professors who helped to organize this as well.  His support of this symposium was needed or it would never have happened.  An open discussion about raw milk has been sorely needed and without these people of vision it would never have happened.

I have to admit that many of us on the raw milk advocacy side were skeptical that anything good could come of this day.  There were those with conspiracy theories about a number of things regarding how the questions would be allowed and the speakers invited being weighted against us.   I did my best to stay as positive about it as I could be and as it turned out, the day was better than any of us could have hoped.  There was respect and due consideration given to what each of the speakers said from both sides of this debate.  Never before has there been this chance for open dialogue with people who can influence policy making in this country when it comes to raw milk. Well perhaps that is not completely true.  Back in the early 1990’s when the federal law prohibiting raw milk was passed, there were meetings with various stakeholders and consumers demanding that law be enacted.  Dr. Farber told us that, at that time, the farmers didn’t organize well so they had no real say in whether that law was passed or not.  Yes I do understand that the University doesn’t develop policy but they do provide information that informs policy makers so in that way they play a large role.  All the speakers, even those whose viewpoint is at opposition to ours, were open, honest, respectful and thoughtful in their presentations and interactions.

As advancements in science change from year to year, so do opinions on various things.  As we develop better on farm tools, protocols and procedures, we are better able to mitigate risk.  At the symposium a number of the speakers talked about statistics and mitigating risk.  It was mentioned that prohibition has never worked for anything (including alcohol and marijuana) and is not working for raw milk.  The underground market for raw milk is strong and growing.   So then, what to do?  That question is still to be answered but the lines of communication are at least open and we have a few more ideas about what we need to do to help this along.

One thing I need to point out is that the DFO (Dairy Farmers of Ontario) were invited and they chose to not attend.  The DFO is a stakeholder in the raw milk debate.   It was telling that they chose not to show up.  The only speaker to address this was Dr. Sylvain Charlebois so I will talk about his presentation first.

Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, Associate Dean, Research and Graduate Studies, Associate Dean (Interim) Executive Programs at the College of Management and Economics at the University of Guelph.

Dr. Charlebois was honest about his belief that we need to find a way to allow raw milk.  He was raised on a dairy farm and on raw milk.  He said he would have fed raw milk to his four children if his parents were still on the farm and he had access to it.  Dr. Chalebois commended both Alice Jonderden and Michael Schmidt for their contribution to consumers.  He was disappointed in the DFO at not showing up for this very important day. Dr. Charlebois stated that, as an economist, he believes that to support the wealth creation agenda in our country we need to nurture the economic growth of farmers and rural economies and that the prohibition of raw milk does not further that agenda.  We have lost 30,000 dairy farms in Canada since 1966.  We have to do something.  We should not stop entrepreneurs from developing niche markets.  The raw milk market is definitely a niche market.   He said that he believes we have enough evidence and momentum to move forward with finding a way to access raw milk safely and within the law.  In regards to Supply Management, Dr. Charlebois said they influence everything we do in the dairy industry and the organization is in need of being reformed.  Anyone surprised by that statement?  He said the industry is accountable to consumers but more and more they will need to be accountable to themselves.  He suggested we focus on short circuits first as in taking small incremental steps towards changing policy.  Of course my thought is that allowing herd share agreements within the provinces is an incremental step.  We’ll see where we get with that thought.

As far as mitigation of risk goes, I suggested in one of my questions that there is no easier way to mitigate risk where raw milk is concerned than to allow herd shares.  In this model the farmer knows his members personally, the consumers are educated in the inherent risks of consuming raw milk and everyone has been trained in the proper handling and procedures around raw milk.  Then if something were to go wrong, everyone affected could be notified within a couple of hours.  The risk is limited to those people who choose to take it.  It was suggested in another talk that small children do not have the tools to make their own decisions and are put in danger.  Well, we make choices every day and if a mother chooses to feed her child hamburger, vegetables and cold cuts to name a few, she is taking a risk.  It was agreed by all parties that there is no such thing as zero risk.  I also pointed out that if the goal of Public Health is to protect us, how is that going to work when they are pushing the raw milk market underground?

Michael Schmidt pointed out in his talk that the German government serves raw milk in hospitals and in pediatric wards.  Apparently the German children are stronger and have a better digestive system than our children?  Really?

I now better understand the position these people are in when it comes to making decisions for the greater population.  It’s not an easy place to be for sure but that doesn’t mean that our food supply needs to be so tightly controlled that freedom of choice is completely wiped out as in a prohibition situation like this one.   It does appear, from what most of these speakers said, that perhaps there is more support for that theory than we had thought.  There are ways we can have what we want and risk is minimized in the eyes of policy makers.  We will now move forward and present those ways. Surprisingly a few of the speakers, while certainly not specifically endorsing raw milk, agreed that there should or could be a way to do this safely.  BIG step in the right direction.   It’s a start!

Professor Jeroen Douwes, Director of the Centre for Public Health Research in New Zealand

Dr. Douwes told us about the research into allergy and asthma and how far they have come to understanding the relationship of raw milk to preventing illness in children.  While the research into this is not complete, he stated that there is more than enough evidence to warrant further research.  He told us that there have been a large number of studies that seem to suggest that if you grow up on a farm you have a much less chance of developing asthma and allergies (20-30% in one study and 60% in a New Zealand study).  In 1973, Charles Blakely, a researcher in the UK said that the farming class has less allergies so even back then this was known. Since there is such a huge increase in asthma, allergy and atopic disease in developed countries and we have no strategies at the moment to prevent it, research will continue to determine if raw milk is a strong factor in the reduction of allergy and asthma in children.  He gave us a lot of statistics and information on the research that is happening now and research that has been done.  One thing that really surprised me is that the large study in the US that looked at 22,808 women in relation to cancer found that 50 to 70% of these women had a lower risk of hay fever if they drank raw milk.  This was statistically significant.  Dr. Douwes and his team have a grant to look further into the relationship between raw milk and health so future information from him will be very interesting.  In New Zealand raw milk is legal.  A consumer can purchase up to 5 liters a day directly from a farmer or from a raw milk store where you can obtain your milk from machines

Dr. Sylvie Turgeon, Professor at the Department of Food Science and Nutrition and interim Director of the Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods at Laval University

Dr. Turgeon explained the nutritional components of milk in detail and was very informative. She then talked about the effect of pasteurization and homogenization on milk.  Her talk included the germ theory of Pasteur, which is controversial in the raw milk movement as most of us think his theories created the germaphobic society we have now.   It is believed that pasteurization does not have any significant effect on the bioavailability in the nutritional components of milk.  No surprise there.  I can’t help but wonder how the small changes to vitamins and minerals and destruction of enzymes that are considered non-significant actually do affect the human body.  We know that science changes its mind about things that affect us so it will be interesting to see if this belief still holds 10 years from now.   One study says one thing, another study says something else and interpretations of those studies are often very different depending on the belief system of who is doing the interpretation.  She did say that UHT milk does affect the bioavailability of the components in milk.  Homogenization is being researched to see how it affects the body.  For those who don’t know, the only reason for homogenization is cosmetics.  It makes the fat molecules smaller so the cream doesn’t rise to the top.  Who wouldn’t want the cream on the top of their milk?  That is foreign concept to those of us who covet raw milk and savor the cream. :0)  Her overall message is that safety has to be balanced with risk and any perceived or real benefits also have to be balanced with risk.

 

Nadine Ijaz, PhD student, University of Toronto.

Ms. Ijaz is the researcher who did the presentation to the British Columbia Center for Disease Control last year.  Her talk yesterday was based on the research she spoke about at that presentation, but included a more in-depth discussion of policy issues.  She reviewed various types of high quality data both about raw milk and other foods to place raw milk’s risk in its broader context.  She stated that what Canada has committed to is evidence-based policy and therefore high quality evidence should be used to evaluate raw milk’s potential risks, as well as possibilities of reducing that risk.  Her message was that, while it is not contested that raw milk carries more risk than pasteurized milk, the evidence does not support prohibition (an extreme policy approach). Instead, regulation including risk reduction requirements, should be considered. She recommended that Canada consider Germany’s example in terms of setting zero pathogen tolerance standards for regulated raw milk, instead of using a ‘zero risk’ policy, which takes away legal consumer access. Here are some policy alternatives that she put forward:

Legalization – set high standards and permit sales under Supply Management. The National Farmers Union has proposed something like this using a small-scale micro-dairy model.

Herd Shares – this is a provincial issue, no sale of raw milk allowed, high standards such as those put forward by the Raw Milk Institute in the USA (RAWMI). RAWMI sets standards for certification that are as good or better than our Supply Management uses.

Her statement that “an underground market for raw milk has it’s own risks”, is shared by a number of us.

 

Dr. Wendie Claeys, Expert at the Staff Direction for Risk Assessment of the Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food chain (FASFC).  She holds a PhD in Applied Bioscience Engineering with a specialty in Industrial Microbiology and Food Chemistry.

Dr. Claeys explained to us the situation with raw milk in Belgium.  It is legal there to sell raw milk through vending machines and on farm sales.  In 2010 a working group was established to look at benefits of raw milk and effects due to pasteurization.  Her overall message was that it is recommended all raw milk be boiled at home or pasteurized before purchase.  That said, here are a couple of things she said that stand out for me.

a)    Growth of bacteria is limited by background flora that turn milk sour.  (So in other words some of the inherently good bacteria in raw milk can reduce some pathogenic bacteria in milk.  If the milk is clean to start with would be my interpretation of this.)

b)   Staph bacteria require very high levels to be a danger to humans.

c)    From 1970 to 2010 Listeria made 0-2 people sick in Belgium and Salmonella, Campylobacter and e-coli made more people sick but the numbers were still low.

d)   Although pasteurization kills most bacteria, other pathogens can grow in pasteurized milk.

 

Marie-Chantal Houde, (a farmer and cheese maker from Quebec) who holds a B.Sc. from the University of McGill, a general science degree from Cegep de Bois-de-Boulogne, Montreal and specialized training in cheese making from France.

Ms. Houde spoke to us about the raw milk cheese laws in Quebec and the challenges artisanal cheese makers and farmers face.  She talked about how our laws are disproportionate to compared to laws governing raw milk cheese from other countries.  So we can import cheese and sell it when the standards are not necessarily as high in those countries as they are in Quebec.  In years past there was cheese factory in every small town after the war.  Raw milk was available until the federal ban in 1991.  In 1998 raw milk cheese was banned provincially unless it had been aged over 60 days.  In 2008 there was an outbreak of listeriosis from both pasteurized and raw milk cheese due to environmental cross contamination.  They had 110 raw cheese factories then and now have 6 still making raw milk cheese.  Ms. Houde is concerned that, with the free trade agreement with Europe, these small cheese factories will not be able to compete.  In order to sell outside the province of Quebec, a cheese factory has to have a federal licence, which is harder to get than a provincial licence.  It’s a travesty that the regulations around making raw milk cheese in Canada are so strict and yet we will be able to import raw milk cheese from countries that may or may not follow those same strict rules and sell them in our stores.  Is anyone surprised by this?

 

Dr. Catherine Donnelly, Professor of Nutrition & Food Science at the University of Vermont.

In my estimation, Dr. Donnelly’s talk was exceptional.  Her work has been mainly in cheese making.  Raw milk is legal in Vermont through herd shares and raw milk cheese is allowed at the farm gate.  Dr. Donnelly’s bio really needs to be read to understand how well versed she is in listeria.  She is known as an international expert on listeria.  We heard about a funded program she was involved in that did risk assessment for 16 Vermont farmstead cheese makers.  Basically what they did was go on site and test for pathogens in every crack and crevice of the cheese making facility.  They did find them even in very clean appearing facilities.  They they did a presentation to the farmer with recommendations on how to change their practices to reduce risk.  After a few weeks they went back to the farms and tested again.  They found that with proper education on how to mitigate risk using certain hygiene and other changes, there was a significant decrease in pathogens on site.  This work created a positive impact on risk.   A government that works with the farmers to help them do a better job instead of regulating them out of business or shutting them down.  What a novel concept!  This is another scientist who seemed to be on the side of allowing raw milk with specific regulations in place and not prohibiting it altogether.

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Dr. Ben Chapman, Assistant Professor & Food Safety Specialist, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, North Caroline State University.

Dr. Chapman writes the BARF blog.  If any of you have read this blog you will understand why I thought he would be against us.  Surprisingly he was very much on our side in that he seems to believe pushing raw milk into an underground market is the more dangerous thing to do.  He has three degrees from University of Guelph.   He told us that it is illegal to buy raw milk in North Carolina where he lives but it is legal in South Carolina.  Dr. Chapman believes that the black market for raw milk is much riskier than having a legal way to obtain it would be.  It’s problematic that we have no way to educate the black market farmers on proper protocols for raw milk for human consumption.  He calls himself a Libertarian hippy, who believes that if you have the right information on risk and decide you want to do it anyway, you should be able to.

He told us that raw milk consumers in Canada are 2% of the population or 700,000 people.  A US study showed 3.5% of the population or 10,000,000 in the USA drink raw milk.  Not an insignificant number as he pointed out.  Research shows that these numbers are mostly well-educated consumers.  On average these people travel to get their milk, sometimes many miles every week.  Why?  There seem to be four reasons:  taste, culture, tradition and the right to choose.  Dr. Chapman stated that raw milk consumers are a part of a much larger movement moving back to connection with a farmer, knowing where their food is coming from, supporting environmentally friendly farming and taking back the right to choose.  He’s talking about us folks!  :0)  This part of his talk was humorous but true.  He said that we will assume risk and he’s right there.  He also said that raw milk consumers ignore Public Health warnings and statistics because they tell us what we can’t do and we aren’t interested in statistics.  Microbial risk isn’t communicated well.  How right he is about that.

The Raw Milk Institute (RAWMI), an organization Mark McAfee of California developed, was mentioned by Dr. Chapman and he commented on the fact that the farms belonging to RAWMI have their test results online for all to see.  Dr. Chapman seemed impressed by the RAWMI group and their regulations for raw milk production.  RAWMI is funded by donations, support from members and grants.  In case readers do not know, Mark McAfee runs the largest raw milk dairy in California and is able to sell raw milk in stores there.  California has about the same population as all of Canada.  He and Michael Schmidt developed protocols and procedures for raw milk a few years ago when both Cow Share Canada and RAWMI were in development.  RAWMI has gone on to refine protocols and develop a program for producers as a way of training and self-regulation.  It is commendable that raw milk farmers in areas like Canada, where standards can’t be taught openly, are joining up with RAWMI and agreeing to follow these standards.  If you want more information on this group, you can go to http://rawmilkinstitute.net/about-rawmi/.   As an aside, if you are part of a herd share right now anywhere in Canada, please make sure your farmer knows about this group and encourage them to join.

Here is an interesting piece of information that I should have remembered from my trip to Florida this past winter.  It relates to Dr. Chapman’s comments.  We stopped in a restaurant for dinner on the trip down and my husband ordered a burger.  That burger came almost rare.  We sent it back like any well-trained Canadian would do.  The restaurant was surprised by that and said that we didn’t tell them we wanted it cooked.  We couldn’t understand how they would serve a raw hamburger to us and be surprised that we sent it back.  According to Dr. Chapman, the FDA allows raw or under-cooked meats as long as the risk is communicated by the server.  What?  This is the same FDA that is constantly trying to shut down raw milk producers in the US?  There was no risk communication to us when my husband ordered his hamburger so this program is safe?  Leaving risk communication to a restaurant server?  I shook my head at this when he said it and I’m doing it again right now as I write this.

Dr. Chapman’s recommendation to Public Health is to stop screaming risk at us because the more they do that the less we trust them.  He recommended dialogue to build our trust.  He did a small study that showed out of 130 raw milk consumers only 7.1% trusted regulators.  I smiled when he said just giving risk data is dumb.  Yes he said dumb.    The goal should not be to influence raw milk beliefs but to make sure people have the information they need to make a clear and informed decision.  My question to that is how can that happen as long as raw milk is considered as bad as cocaine in Canada?

I liked that he said the goal should be about informed choice.  Exactly what we have been saying all along and Michael Schmidt has been saying publicly for over 20 years.  He suggested that Public Health and others in the food safety world stop discounting beliefs of consumers.  If his advice was heeded, if we were given a legal way to acquire raw milk and we could openly educate those interested in raw milk so they make a decision based on knowing all the pros and cons, the trust between the consumer and the policy makers and enforcers would improve.  Again, prohibition creates mistrust and only adds to the growth of an unregulated market.

After Dr. Chapman’s talk, a member of the audience asked the question “How do we know that the U of Guelph is not a puppet for the DFO (Dairy Farmers of Ontario) because we know that there is a great deal of funding money coming from them?  Dr. Hill answered the question by saying that they have firewalls in place to help make sure that doesn’t happen but that it is something they have to watch.  I think I’m speaking for most consumers out there who are involved in this raw milk debate when I say that one of the reasons we don’t trust policy makers is because of the influence money from organizations like the Dairy Farmers of Ontario and pharmaceutical companies may have on which research gets done and which research is released.

 

Dr. Jeff Farber, Director, Bureau of Microbial Hazards, Food Directorate of Health Canada.

This man was interesting.  He stood up during the question period and pointed out that government isn’t responsible for food safety.  The food industry is responsible for producing safe food.  His department also looks at GM foods.  He said that there is a possible way to create an exception for raw milk under the current federal law and that he would speak to any of us who would like to discuss this.  I spoke to him at break and have some ideas about what we need to do to prepare an approach to Health Canada.

Dr. Farber told us that, prior to 1991, raw milk was regulated by the provinces.  The federal government stepped in and created the law in 1991 due to strong consumer and organized group pressure.  He said other groups such as farmers groups were poorly organized back then and not prepared so different options were not looked at other than prohibition.  He thinks the environment is different today and although it is difficult to change a law already in place, with the right organized effort and everyone pulling together, it is not impossible.  He pointed out that research shows the risk of food borne illness increases exponentially when the milk leaves the farm.  He said that selling raw milk at the farm gate, labeled as to risk and from farmers following strict rules, could be possible.  There may be other venues in the future but the management plan has to be bullet proof before Health Canada would ever consider it.

 

William Lachowsky, Food Safety Education Co-ordinator, University of Guelph.

Mr. Lachowsky told the story of how, when he was a child, his mother used to go down the road to buy raw milk.   The importance of education for all individuals involved in the food chain was what I took away from this presentation.  He spoke about risk mitigation strategies.

 

Dr. Lydia Medeiros, Ohio State University

Dr. Medeiros is a Registered Dietician and her research focuses on the educational needs of patients with immunological risk for food borne disease.  She is an educator and has been involved in a study involving raw milk consumers and their behavioral beliefs.   She talked about how we use our personal mental model in the subconscious mind to make decisions.  Every decision we make in life is based on that mental model.  I found Dr. Medeiros’s talk to be very interesting because of the study I have done over the last 20 years of the subconscious mind and its effect on health.  Her study was fascinating to hear about and as I sit here writing this report I am aware of my own mental model and how it affects my experience of both the symposium and my work with the raw milk advocacy group.  :0)

In Dr. Medeiros’s study they looked at risk information seeking and processing models and how a person makes decisions about their behaviors.  Eighty one people participated in the study.  They used Qualitative and Quantitative analysis and split them into 15 groups.  She said they start with analyzing who these people are, background, education etc.  They needed to know if the person had ever had a severe food borne illness.  If someone had they would be more likely to react differently to risk information than someone who hadn’t.  Because behavior is predicted by intention, she measured anger, uncertainty and worry.  Behaviour is influenced by attitudes so that people with very strong beliefs are “almost immune to education”.   Don’t we all know how hard it is to convince someone of something when their belief is so strong it can’t be shaken.  It’s interesting to me that study of how we perceive raw milk and why we choose it is being done in such detail and yet health officials are still going about talking to us in exactly the wrong way.

Dr. Medeiros is from Ohio where there is a very strong herd share network.  Herd shares are legal there.  Interestingly she had a hard time convincing these people to be part of her study until a farmer offered her a glass of raw milk.  She said that everything she had ever learned about risk around raw milk flashed through her mind and she had to make a decision on the spot about whether to risk drinking it or not.  She did drink it and by doing so won the trust of the farmer and then the raw milk community that she needed to do this study.  Dr. Medeiros’s work obviously helps Public Health to know how to present an idea to a group in such a way that they might be most likely to listen to.  Trust was the main thing she stressed.  Without gaining the trust of the audience, the message is useless.

One aspect of her study brought a laugh from the audience.  She said the pasteurized milk group scored much higher on anger than the raw milk group.  If I remember correctly the raw milk group didn’t score anger at all.  She said the main reason for anger in the pasteurized milk group is that they wanted raw milk and couldn’t get it.  They wanted freedom of choice.

The study revealed that it is absolutely necessary to appreciate the difference in mental models of those we are talking to when presenting any kind of educational message.  From that she broke it down like this:

a)    People who don’t believe you have their best interests at heart don’t trust you.

b)   Motivation for drinking raw milk was health and nutrition so stressing risk is counterproductive.

c)    People are making choices based on belief and not on risk.

 

Michael Schmidt, Masters in Agriculture, Bio Dynamic Farmer and outspoken champion for food rights.

I do not need to go into a detailed explanation of who Michael Schmidt is in this report.  The raw milk consumers reading this already know him or of him.  If anyone reading this wants to go over the history regarding Mr. Schmidt’s legal battles, all that information is recorded on the Bovine blog at this link  http://thebovine.wordpress.comTo dispel popular belief, this is not Mr. Schmidt’s, blog but that of a champion for food freedom (Richard Chompko) who selflessly reports on all things regarding raw milk and other food freedom issues in Canada.

Mr. Schmidt has been at the forefront of the right to choose movement for over 20 years in his battle with the Ontario government over his cow share agreement with consumers.  Since his battle began the raw milk underground has grown substantially as consumers seek out this food.

Mr. Schmidt talked about raw milk in Europe (Germany in particular) and about his personal battle with authorities in this country.  He also explained how providing milk for people within a cow share, herd share or farm share model is not sales but a personal and private agreeement between willing partners.  He follows the standards used in Germany for what they call “certified raw milk” and has taught these standards to interested farmers in Canada.

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In closing, I would like to thank the University of Guelph for this symposium and for the fair and open dialogue that occurred there.  On behalf of the Canadian Consumer Raw Milk Advocacy Group (www.rawmilkconsumer.ca), I would like to encourage the University and the greater raw milk community to not let this stop here.  The conversation has started so let’s delve deeper and see if we can find the common ground to move forward towards opening up the raw milk market to the light of day and towards giving consumers the opportunity to choose raw milk or pasteurized milk as they will.

 

May the milk flow freely in Canada!

Margo McIntosh, RHN, RNCP

Canadian Consumer Raw Milk Advocacy Group

info@rawmilkconsumer.ca

519-338-2683

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Next For Raw Milk In Ontario

This week we heard that the Ontario Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of Michael Schmidt.   More information can be found here http://thebovine.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/michael-schmidt-vows-to-take-raw-milk-fight-to-the-supreme-court-cbc-news/.

While this is disappointing, it is certainly not the end of our campaign for our right to access this food within the law.  What this conviction means is that our next step has to be at the government level.   NOW WE NEED YOUR HELP AS WE NEVER HAVE BEFORE.  If you want to continue to see the milk flow in Ontario, you are going to have to get involved.  We will soon be sending out information on how you can help including what letters we need you to write and to whom.  We are also going to be asking you to make appointments with certain people in government.   Watch our Facebook page and the News section of our website for this information.

The time to sit back and let others fight this battle and/or wait to see what happens is gone.  Be aware that we need the support of many raw milk consumers in this province to win this campaign for clean, fresh, safe raw milk.

One step you can take now is to sign up for the webinar or come in person to the Science To Policy Symposium: Raw Milk Case Study at the University of Guelph to be held April 22, 2014.  This symposium will help those of us not in academia to understand how policy is determined and those of us in academia to hear the opinions on both sides.  If we understand how policy makers are coming to decisions regarding our access to our beloved milk, perhaps we will have clues as to what more we need to do to change attitudes towards raw milk.  It is very important that we show a large and united front by attending this symposium in a respectful way with the attitude of learning.

https://www.uoguelph.ca/foodscience/content/ raw-milk-science-policy-symposiumOr contact: ScienceToPolicy@uoguelph.ca

In the interim please be in close contact with your farmer, make sure someone has a list of all the cow share owners in your cow share and if your farmer is targeted, get as large a group of people out to that farm as you can manage.  Make sure someone video tapes everything that happens.  These demonstrations of support need to be peaceful but are absolutely necessary.

Those of us who have been drinking this milk for years cannot imagine a world where we cannot access it.  Help us to make sure that we always can.

 

Margo McIntosh, RHN, RNCP,

Canadian Consumer Raw Milk Advocacy Group.

Raw Milk Gets Its Day In Court

Here is a report from the Bovine about the Supreme Court of Ontario hearing February 5, 2014.

The Bovine reports:

Snow falls as farmer Michael Schmidt and Canadian Constitution Foundation lawyer Derek James From answer reporters’ questions on the steps of Osgoode Hall, during a lunch break Wednesday.

More than 100 raw milk supporters from across the province made the trek through stormy weather to Toronto’s Osgoode Hall to hear the third-round appeal in Michael Schmidt’s raw milk saga last Wednesday Feb. 5th.

It had been snowing all night, piling up a good half a foot of snow, and as we drove down the Don Valley Parking Lot we heard on the radio that travel times across the city were doubled or tripled due to road conditions. At one point around Eglinton Ave., a lightly loaded pickup skidded sideways in our lane but miraculously didn’t hit any other vehicles. Of course, unlike us, the farmers from the countryside — the ones with two and three hour drives —  made it there on time.

To read the rest of this article go to this link:  http://thebovine.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/raw-milk-gets-its-day-in-court-feb-5-michael-schmidt-at-osgoode-hall/

43 Media Cover Supreme Court Hearing February 5, 2014

Farmer takes battle over raw milk sale to Ontario’s highest court

Vancouver Sun – ‎Feb 6, 2014‎
TORONTO – A dairy farmer determined to defend his right to provide raw milk urged Ontario’s top court Wednesday to recognize that laws around pasteurization were outdated, unjust and infringed on basic freedoms. Michael Schmidt made his stand during a 

Ontario’s pasteurization laws outdated and unfair, raw-milk farmer urges court

The Globe and Mail – ‎Feb 5, 2014‎
A dairy farmer determined to defend his right to provide raw milk urged Ontario’s top court Wednesday to recognize that laws around pasteurization were outdated, unjust and infringed on basic freedoms. Michael Schmidt made his stand during a hearing 

Farmer urges Ontario’s highest court to allow raw milk consumption

CTV News – ‎Feb 5, 2014‎
Michael Schmidt made his stand during a hearing before Ontario’s Court of Appeal, as supporters packed two courtrooms to witness the latest step in a long-running legal battle between the 59-year-old farmer and the government. “The law needs to evolve 

Farmer takes battle over raw milk to Ontario’s highest court

CTV News – ‎Feb 5, 2014‎
Michael Schmidt made his stand during a hearing before Ontario’s Court of Appeal, as supporters packed two courtrooms to witness the latest step in a long-running legal battle between the 59-year-old farmer and the government. “The law needs to evolve 

Raw milk battle hits Ontario’s top court

Sun News Network – ‎Feb 5, 2014‎
TORONTO – Dairy farmer Michael Schmidt says he is standing up against injustice and hopes to overturn a court ruling that saw him fined for distributing unpasteurized milk. Schmidt told a panel of three Ontario Appeal court judges that his charter rights were 

Top Ontario court hears raw milk case

MetroNews Canada – ‎Feb 5, 2014‎
TORONTO – A dairy farmer determined to defend his right to provide raw milk urged Ontario’s top court Wednesday to recognize that laws around pasteurization were outdated, unjust and infringed on basic freedoms. Michael Schmidt made his stand during a 

Farmer’s battle over raw milk lands at Ontario’s highest court

CTV News – ‎Feb 5, 2014‎
Raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt is arguing that by making the sale and distribution of unpasteurized milk illegal, Ontario is infringing on both his and his customers’ basic freedoms. Schmidt’s lawyers are pointing out that the Charter of Rights includes “the 

Farmer takes battle over raw milk sales to Ontario’s highest court

GlobalPost – ‎Feb 5, 2014‎
Raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt is arguing that by making the sale and distribution of unpasteurized milk illegal, Ontario is infringing on both his and his customers’ basic freedoms. Schmidt’s lawyers are pointing out that the Charter of Rights includes “the 

VIDEO: Farmer takes raw milk battle to Ontario’s highest court

Hamilton Spectator – ‎Feb 5, 2014‎
TORONTO A farmer defending his self-professed right to sell unpasteurized milk is telling Ontario’s top court he feels an obligation to question a law he feels is outdated and unjust. Raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt is arguing that by making the sale and 

Michael Schmidt takes raw milk fight to Ontario’s top court

CBC.ca – ‎Feb 5, 2014‎
Michael Schmidt made his stand during a hearing before Ontario’s Court of Appeal, as supporters packed two courtrooms to witness the latest step in a long-running legal battle between the 59-year-old farmer and the government. “The law needs to evolve 

Farmer takes battle over raw milk to Ontario appeal court

Toronto Star – ‎Feb 5, 2014‎
Raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt is arguing that by making the sale and distribution of unpasteurized milk illegal, Ontario is infringing on both his and his customers’ basic freedoms. Schmidt’s lawyers are pointing out that the Charter of Rights includes “the 

Farmer’s battle over raw milk sales goes to Ontario’s highest court

Edmonton Journal – ‎Feb 5, 2014‎
Raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt argues that by making the sale and distribution of unpasteurized milk illegal, Ontario is infringing on both his and his customers’ basic freedoms. Schmidt’s lawyers say the charter includes “the right of individuals to make 

Raw milk battle to be heard by Ontario’s highest court

CTV News – ‎Feb 5, 2014‎
Raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt is arguing that by making the sale and distribution of unpasteurized milk illegal, Ontario is infringing on both his and his customers’ basic freedoms. Schmidt’s lawyers are pointing out that the Charter of Rights includes “the 

Top Ontario court to hear raw milk case

insideTORONTO.com – ‎Feb 5, 2014‎
TORONTO – A dairy farmer determined to defend his right to provide raw milk urged Ontario’s top court Wednesday to recognize that laws around pasteurization were outdated, unjust and infringed on basic freedoms. Michael Schmidt made his stand during a 

Ontario’s highest court to hear farmer’s battle over raw milk sales

Globalnews.ca – ‎Feb 5, 2014‎
Farmer Michael Schmidt talks to reporters on Thursday July 31, 2008 outside court in Newmarket, Ont. Schmidt and his supporters are taking their self-professed right to drink unpasteurized milk, which the government calls a “significant public health risk,” to 

Raw Milk Or Pasteurized? Ontario’s Top Court To Decide

Huffington Post Canada – ‎Feb 5, 2014‎
TORONTO – A dairy farmer determined to defend his right to provide raw milk urged Ontario’s top court Wednesday to recognize that laws around pasteurization were outdated, unjust and infringed on basic freedoms. Michael Schmidt made his stand during a 

Farmer’s raw milk battle goes to Ontario’s top court

CP24 Toronto’s Breaking News – ‎Feb 5, 2014‎
Michael Schmidt made his stand during a hearing before Ontario’s Court of Appeal, as supporters packed two courtrooms to witness the latest step in a long-running legal battle between the 59-year-old farmer and the government. “The law needs to evolve 

Ontario raw milk crusader Schmidt gets his chance in province’s highest court

TopNews United States – ‎Feb 5, 2014‎
As anyone might expect, the case including those issues is constantly carried by activist agriculturist Michael Schmidt, the respondent in 2011 who was indicted in a commonplace court on 13 violations of both the Milk Act and the Health Protection and 

Raw Milk Case Back in Court

Bayshore Broadcasting News Centre – ‎Feb 5, 2014‎
The Ontario Court of Appeal is set to hear arguments on Wednesday in the case of Michael Schmidt’s conviction in connection with selling raw milk. Schmidt says the defence team will have two and a half hours to present its side and the Crown has one hour.

Home»News»National»Farmer takes battle over raw milk sales to Ontario’s 

News1130 – ‎Feb 5, 2014‎
Farmer Michael Schmidt talks to reporters on Thursday July 31, 2008 outside court in Newmarket, Ont. Schmidt and his supporters are taking their self-professed right to drink unpasteurized milk, which the government calls a “significant public health risk,” to 

Home»News»National»Farmer takes battle over raw milk sale to Ontario’s 

570 News – ‎Feb 5, 2014‎
Farmer Michael Schmidt talks to reporters on Thursday July 31, 2008 outside court in Newmarket, Ont. Schmidt and his supporters are taking their self-professed right to drink unpasteurized milk, which the government calls a “significant public health risk,” to 

Ontario Raw Milk Crusader Getting His Day in Province’s Highest Court

Food Safety News – ‎Feb 4, 2014‎
Not surprisingly, the case involving those issues is being brought by activist farmer Michael Schmidt, the defendant in 2011 who was convicted in a provincial court on 13 violations of both the Milk Act and the Health Protection and Promotion Act. Schmidt has 

Raw milk crusader Michael Schmidt heads back to court

CBC.ca – ‎Feb 4, 2014‎
A crusading farmer and his supporters are taking their self-professed right to drink unpasteurized milk, which the government calls a “significant public health risk,” to Ontario’s top court this week. Raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt is arguing that by making the 

Raw milk fight goes to Ontario’s top court

London Community News – ‎Feb 4, 2014‎
TORONTO – A crusading farmer and his supporters are taking their self-professed right to drink unpasteurized milk, which the government calls a “significant public health risk,” to Ontario’s top court this week. Raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt is arguing that by 

Raw milk crusader takes fight to Ontario’s top court

Regina Leader-Post – ‎Feb 4, 2014‎
Farmer Michael Schmidt talks to reporters on Thursday July 31, 2008 outside court in Newmarket, Ont. Schmidt and his supporters are taking their self-professed right to drink unpasteurized milk, which the government calls a “significant public health risk,” to 

Michael Schmidt, Raw Milk Crusader, Takes Fight To Ontario’s Top Court

Huffington Post Canada – ‎Feb 4, 2014‎
TORONTO – A crusading farmer and his supporters are taking their self-professed right to drink unpasteurized milk, which the government calls a “significant public health risk,” to Ontario’s top court this week. Raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt is arguing that by 

Michael Schmidt “UpBeat” As He Readies Himself For Appeals Court Date Over Raw MIlk In Canada

David Gumpert's picture

by:David GumpertMon, 02/03/2014
Michael Schmidt enjoys a winter interlude with his family at his Glencolton Farm this past weekend.Michael Schmidt enjoys a winter interlude with his family at his Glencolton Farm this past weekend.

Canadian raw dairy farmer Michael Schmidt has been in legal limbo for about twenty years now. It’s difficult to even make that statement without wondering, first, about the system that allows such ongoing official pressures on one farmer, and second, about what it is like to live with such a situation. 

 

All you have to do is know Schmidt even casually to appreciate you are dealing with someone who has deep strength, to possess the determination to stand up for his principals, and deep spiritual reservoirs, to do so without rancor or hatred.

 

But now, at long last, one part of his legal journey appears to be heading into the home stretch, into a period where the end may at long last be within sight, and with it, the realization that this dairy farmer, committed to biodynamic farming principles, could actually win, or lose, and that private raw milk availability in Canada could win or lose in the process.

 

“I hope for the best, but expect the worst,” he told me during a conversation on Saturday, about his date this Wednesday with the Court of Appeal for Ontario. This could be the last stop, or the next-to-last stop, on this particular leg of the legal journey—one which saw him win a court trial allowing his raw milk herdshare in 2009, and then lose on appeal in 2011…and the next year earn a rare appeal opportunity that has led to Wednesday’s court date. The next stop would probably be the last, the Supreme Court of Canada, and likely whichever side loses will appeal to that final arbiter.

Read the rest of this excellent article at this link http://thecompletepatient.com/article/2014/february/3/michael-schmidt-“upbeat”-he-readies-himself-appeals-court-date-over-raw-milk#.Uu_e4ZorBRk.facebook 

Press Release

The following press release is being sent out today regarding the hearing of Michael Schmidt at the Court of Appeal in Toronto on February 5, 2014.

 Michael Schmidt Challenges Canada for Raw Milk Freedom

January 29-2014 — Ontario, Canada — Embattled dairy farmer, Michael Schmidt, of Glencolton Farm, returns to court next week, in his decades-long struggle to legitimize his cow-boarding program. At the Ontario Court of Appeal hearing on Wednesday, February 5, 2014, Schmidt and his attorneys seek to overturn convictions involving the distribution and sale of raw milk.

Many supporters are expected to fill the courtroom at 130 Queen St. West, at 10:30 am.

The upcoming court ruling is expected to determine the legality of Schmidt’s innovative cow-share program, which the court deemed legal in 2010, a decision subsequently overturned in 2011.  The cow-share model is intended to grant Ontario’s non-farmers the same access to raw milk as farmers legally enjoy, through a private co-ownership structure.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation represents Schmidt. In a recent article, attorney Derek From says “The CCF will be making two major arguments on his behalf.  First, on a proper interpretation of the current laws, cow-shares are not illegal in Ontario.  Second, the Constitution of Canada should protect the right of consumers to take responsibility for their own health. ”

The government of Ontario has been trying to stop Mr. Schmidt from serving the needs of his raw dairy patrons for nearly 20 years.  The typical raw milk consumer seeks unprocessed milk because of serious health concerns. They are often willing to go to great lengths, including procuring ownership interest in a cow. In Glencolton Farm’s cow share program there are 150 families with a total of just over 600 people and there has never been a case of illness.

Federal and provincial government bodies insist that raw milk poses an unreasonable risk of foodborne illness to consumers, and must therefore be banned. Schmidt’s successful program proves that raw milk can be safely produced, and that prohibition is a disproportionate government response to a controllable risk.  Raw milk sales are legal across the European Union, and in about half of American states.

Consumers who depend on raw milk for their families are a distinct minority. “Those with special dietary needs deserve the same right as other Canadians to choose the food that goes into their bodies.  Cow share owners do not aspire to overthrow or compete with supply management or suggest that raw milk be sold in stores,” explains Margo McIntosh, spokesperson for the Canadian Consumer Raw Milk Advocacy Group

The Canadian Consumer Raw Milk Advocacy Group has collected 1088 signatures from Ontario raw milk consumers demanding change. The sale of unpasteurized milk is federally prohibited under Canada’s Food and Drug Act, but provincial governments have the authority to permit cow-share programs, which are legal in numerous U.S. states.

The Canadian Consumer Raw Milk Advocacy Group is a group of Canadian consumers fighting for their right to enter into private contracts with a farmer for raw milk. Visit their website for more information, rawmilkconsumer.ca.

Contact:   Margo McIntosh, Canadian Consumer Raw Milk Advocacy Group

Phone # 519-338-2683 Email address:  info@rawmilkconsumer.ca

Michael Schmidt – Supreme Court of Ontario

Cows grazing green grass at Glencolten Farm.

Cows grazing green grass at Glencolten Farm.

On February 5th, 2014 in the Ontario Court of Appeal, Durham raw milk advocate Michael Schmidt will seek to overturn his 2006 convictions for distribution and sale of raw milk.

This is a very important hearing for those of us who want to see herd/cow shares and our right to private contract protected.  One of the lawyers involved in the case says that they will be arguing that section 7 of the Charter should protect the right of consumers to legally acquire raw milk. If that part of the appeal is lost, the government will have a legal decision stating that it is constitutional to ban cow-shares. Also that it may also ramp up enforcement of the law against other cow-shares in Ontario as it will be armed with a new legal decision supporting its laws.

See also  “Battlefield: Raw Milk” by Derek From of the Canadian Constitutional Foundation, a lawyer who is working on Michael’s case.

We wish Michael the best at this hearing and pray that the judges see that the right to private contract is valuable and necessary.

This article is in the Owen Sound Sun Times:  “Raw Milk “Godfather” Returning to Court.”  The title “Raw Milk Godfather” is a bit of a joke but in some ways is true.  He’s been the most vocal and the only one who has stood up to the authorities in Ontario.  He and Alice Jongerden are the heroes of our mission to decriminalize raw milk and have our food freedom protected.