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Canadian raw milk crusader serving 60 days — on weekends

Canada’s best known raw milk crusader, Ottawa’s Michael Schmidt, was sentenced Wednesday to 60 days in jail after being found guilty of obstructing a peace officer.

Michael Schmidt

His conviction last month stemmed from an Oct. 2, 2015, incident at his Durham area farm when Schmidt and others confronted officers executing a valid search warrant.

Schmidt’s confrontations with authorities over raw milk have been ongoing for 22 years. The first raid of Schmidt’s farm related to its raw milk production was in 1994.

Walkerton Judge R. Menard said he was sentencing Schmidt to jail because interference with a peace officer is a serious offense. By sending Schmidt to prison the general public will understand that people must abide by the law, the judge said.

Schmidt was in custody for processing, but the court is permitting him to serve his time intermittently on weekends. His first day of incarceration is scheduled for Nov. 10.

Schmidt and other owners of dairy cows kept on his farm confronted representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Ministry of Natural Resources in 2015 to prevent them from collecting items outlined in the warrant. Local peace officers accompanied them.

Charges were dismissed against Schmidt’s supporters. Under Canadian law, Schmidt could have been jailed for up to two years for an obstruction conviction.

Schmidt is also the subject of proceeding in a Newmarket court regarding the distribution of raw milk. The last hearing in that case was in June, but a judge has yet to announce a decision.

The Canadian Food and Drugs Act states:

“No person shall sell the normal lacteal secretion obtained from the mammary gland of the cow, genus Bos, or of any other animal, or sell a dairy product made with any such secretion, unless the secretion or dairy product has been pasteurized by being held at a temperature and for a period that ensure the reduction of the alkaline phosphatase activity so as to meet the tolerances specified in official method MFO-3, Determination of Phosphatase Activity in Dairy Products.”

According to Health Canada, the number of food poisoning incidents from milk has dramatically decreased since pasteurization of milk was made mandatory by Health Canada in 1991. Canada’s raw milk ban does not apply to cheese.

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