Dairy farmer Michael Schmidt believes drinking raw milk is a constitutional right, but an Ontario court yesterday disagreed. Schmidt could face heavy fines.
A crusader for the right to drink raw milk has been convicted of more than a dozen provincial offences relating to the sale of unpasteurized milk and could face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
“I can’t believe it,” Michael Schmidt said yesterday at his farm in Grey County.
In a 77-page ruling, the Ontario Court of Justice dismissed every one of his arguments that distributing and purchasing raw milk was a well-informed consumer’s constitutional right.
The province’s successful appeal of a Jan. 21 ruling in Schmidt’s favour was the latest chapter in the farmer’s four-year battle to keep milk flowing from his raw
milk operation, which he described as a fight for “food freedom.” The sale of untreated milk is illegal across Canada.
Schmidt runs a co-operative venture near Owen Sound with about 200 cow-share members, who buy a portion of a cow and pay to board the animal at his Glencolton Farms. Ontario’s raw-milk laws do not apply to farmers, who can legally drink their own cows’ milk.
But health officials maintain unpasteurized milk can contain deadly pathogens, including salmonella, listeria and the same strainof E. coli that killed seven people in Walkerton in 2000.
The Ontario health ministry says there were 145 cases of reported enteric illness associated with unpasteurized milk in Ontario between 2005 and 2009.
If you have been thinking of supporting the Raw Milk War: THIS IS THE TIME