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

The Canadian equivalent of the U.S. Courts of Appeal – the Ontario Court of Appeal – today will hear oral arguments to decide if barriers to the sale and distribution of raw milk infringe upon any right that might exist to drink the unpasteurized beverage.

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 been in and out of many an Ontario court since he was first charged with the illegal sale and distribution of raw milk. He opted to appeal the 2011 convictions to the province’s highest court rather than pay fines totaling $9,150. His attorneys say Schmidt’s “long-standing efforts to make unpasteurized milk available to non-farmers have been an important and fundamental life choice, having demonstrably profound psychological, economic, social and ethical consequences for him.”

Bans on the sale and distribution of raw milk, Schmidt’s legal defense will argue, stand in violation of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canada’s charter includes the right of individuals to make decisions about their own bodies and their own health.

Schmidt’s side will claim that by not permitting so-called cow share programs, his rights under the charter are violated. Cow share arrangements, where a group of people fund the ownership of an animal in exchange for raw milk, is known in Canada as agistment.

However, cow shares are seen as little more than a scheme to get around the law in Canada. Government attorneys note that Schmidt is the only party holding legal title to the cows, and that unpasteurized milk remains a significant public health risk.

© Food Safety News
  • Rob Bright

    Canada’s pasteurisation laws are outdated and irrelevant. When introduced in the 1930′s there were real health concerns. Technology and knowledge have improved so much by now that these early concerns are not even relevant any longer. Anyone who knows about the whole raw milk issue also knows that keeping it illegal only benefits the milk board monopoly and helps foster an underground black market for raw milk which is truly something to be concerned about.

    The most recent studies on raw milk (which the Canadian Govt refuses to investigate themselves) show that raw milk is one the LEAST riskiest foods to consume. You are more likely to get sick eating spinach, cantaloupe, pastuerised dairy and many others (chicken, pork, eggs, beef, seafood.) The ignorance of the govt and public around this issue harkens back to the days when doctors recommended various tobacco products. Our food supply system is sickened by large corporations whose only motive is profit (not health or safety or quality.) People need to care of their own health, not rely on govt or corporations. This is about personal choice, not public policy. Let people consume the foods they choose to and stop telling us what we are allowed to eat. Informed people who have educated themselves about raw milk should have the right to consume it. We know, 100% that tobacco kills people, costs millions in healthcare, and serves only to make tobacco companies rich. How is tobacco legal while raw milk is illegal? This is insanity…

  • ebrech

    Except you can’t make cheese out of Almond milk.
    Raw milk is what we need to make that lovely poutine cheese.

  • Ebrech

    No Raw milk, no more poutine :(