Support Michael Schmidt on his day in court February 5th
Embattled dairy farmer, Michael Schmidt, of Glencolton Farm, returns to court tomorrow, February 5th, 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 [Osgoode Hall, Toronto, Ontario]. If you can, please attend and show solidarity with Michael.
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.