Michael Schmidt, Raw Milk Activist, Acquitted!

Michael Schmidt has been fighting for the rights of his herd share members to consume raw milk for the last three years. The National Post said today: “Justice of the Peace Paul Kowarsky upheld the legislation, but said in this case Mr. Schmidt did not break the law because he was distributing to joint owners of cows and not the public at large.”

The Globe and Mail today describes the issue as: “really about the extent to which consumers should be free to buy foods, however rarefied, and whether constitutional rights stretch as far as the grocery basket, farmer’s market and the people who own shares in – but do not live on – food producing farms.

This is not just about raw milk, this is about people’s rights to choose whatever foods they want. I advocate for choice, said Joseph Heckman, an organic farming expert at Rutger’s University in New Jersey who has consumed raw milk since childhood and now studies it.”

The court has upheld our individual rights to hire someone to care, milk and pasture animals. They have upheld our rights to jointly own a herd of animals. This ruling may be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. But right now, Michael Schmidt can go back to the business of running his farm.

Updated January 23, 2010: Patricia Meyer-Watt CNP From the Weston A Price Foundation Toronto Chapter posted this article from the Toronto Star about Michael Schmidt’s acquittal. The essence of why herd share programs are legal is outlined in the following statement: “Schmidt has long maintained he does not break the law by providing milk to the cow?s owners, all of whom purchase a portion of the cow and pay to board the animal at Glencolton Farms. The prohibition on raw milk in Ontario does not apply to farmers drinking raw milk from their own cows. [Justice of the Peace Paul] Kowarsky ruled Schmidt?s cow-share program did not break the law because the farmer only provided milk and raw milk products to his members, did not advertise or market his operation, and that cow-share members were aware they consumed milk at their own risk.”

Updated April 5, 2010: If you would like to read the Judgment from His Worship P. Kowarsky Justice of the Peace for Regina V M. Schmidt on January 21, 2010.