Case against raw milk sours | Toronto & GTA | News | Toronto Sun
Case against raw milk sours
Farmer acquitted over unpasteurized product
By IAN ROBERTSON, Toronto Sun, Last Updated: 21st January 2010, 8:15pm
NEWMARKET — A farmer cheering the “raw milk revolution” chugged a mug of the unpasteurized cow juice after his acquittal Thursday for breaching 19 provincial regulations.
Surrounded by well-wishers from as far as the U.S., Michael Schmidt, 55, claimed a victory for freedom of expression and organic food products free of government controls.
“Government has no business in people’s stomachs,” the unlicensed 27-year owner of Glencolton Farms in Durham, Ont. said in an interview.
The Canadian Alliances for Raw Milk co-director said he will enter politics in a bid to change laws banning sales and distribution of unpasteurized, unsterilized milk products.
After Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) officers raided his farm in late 2006, Schmidt was charged with breaching public health regulations, the Ontario Milk Act, and the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA).
Prepared to protest under constitutional grounds, his federal Charter of Rights and Freedoms Act application won’t proceed, due to Justice of the Peace Paul Kowarsky’s findings.
Schmidt pleaded guilty and paid a fine in 1994 to breaching regulations by providing milk to customers leasing his cows.
After forming a club, he charged screened members $300 for a quarter-cow for six years, plus $2-to-$2.15 a litre. His raw milk products were sold at the farm or to Cowshare card holders from his mobile milk product delivery “Blue Bus” in York Region and Toronto.
Schmidt also held public rallies, lectured at North American universities and recruited chefs.
The raid and seizure of equipment occurred after undercover MNR agents infiltrated Schmidt’s farm .
Health and government officials accused him under laws dealing with placing the public at risk.
But in his 2 1/4-hour decision, Kowarsky ruled Schmidt broke no laws.
Up to 70 supporters in the standing-room-only courtroom — including one wearing a shirt with the slogan “our cows don’t do drugs” — applauded.
Schmidt, whose trial ended last February, did not attack the legislation, Kowarsky said. “It is a difference of opinion.”
His milk is distributed not to the general public, but to members told of potential risks, he ruled in his 75-page decision.
Kowarsky said several countries legalized raw milk.
While upholding current legislation and avoiding the raw milk issue, he said the province assumes pasteurization renders dairy products the only ones safe for humans to eat or drink.
But Kowarsky said laws passed with the best of intentions should be revisited, to consider changes in social acceptance plus medical and scientific evidence.
Public health tests on Schmidt’s milk products showed “no disease,” he said, adding the Crown produced no evidence of anyone getting sick.
Prosecuting lawyers later said they have not ruled out appealing the decisions.
John Middlebro, one of two Grey Bruce Health Unit lawyers, said he was “surprised” by the “unique and different” ruling.
“The world is not a better place today,” Dr. Murray McQuigge, the Grey-Bruce medical officer of health in 1994, told QMI Agency.
Schmidt’s supporters later held a four-hour indoor rally.
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