People who stretch or break raw milk laws in the U.S. and Canada often are more likely to emerge as folk heroes rather than outlaws. The recent cases involving Armand Bechard in Springfield, MO and Michael Schmidt in Ontario are examples.
In April 2009, undercover inspectors from the Springfield-Greene County Health Department saw Bechard’s 17-year old and 21-year old daughters selling raw milk in a parking lot.
Raw milk sales on the farm are legal in Missouri, and dairies can even make deliveries to their customers. Raw milk sales from a parking lot, however, are illegal.
Rather than charge the two girls, however, the City of Springfield charged the father with operating a food establishment without a permit. In Municipal Court last summer, represented by a public defender, Bechard lost.
On appeal representing himself, Bechard won. A Greene County judge ruled that the city had charged the wrong party with the crime and that only the daughters should be on the hook.
Bechard still faces a state charge of illegally distributing unprocessed milk, and in that venue will be represented by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.
Meanwhile, Ontario Justice of the Peace Paul Kowarsky has found that the cow shares scheme used by Schmidt is compliant with Canada’s Health Protection Act and its Milk Act. Those laws contain provisions banning raw milk sales.
Schmidt had challenged Canada’s ban all the way to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In the process, he has discovered so-called cow share programs are permitted.
Other raw milk dairies in Canada have taken to selling their products as body lotions or for baths, marking them as “not for human consumption.” Wink, wink.