(NaturalNews) Michael Schmidt, a raw milk farmer, owner and operator of Glencolton Farms in Durham, Ontario, Canada is facing over 20 charges from the Canadian government for the distribution of raw milk under his cowshare program which serves over 150 families. The charges have been laid by the Ministry of Natural Resources based on the Health Protection and Promotion Act and the Milk Act. Having commenced yesterday, the trial is currently ongoing.
The Ministry of Natural Resources is backed by over twenty government witnesses, including the inspectors who raided his farm back in 2006 (see the NaturalNews article below for more details), undercover officials, dairy microbiologists, and other public health officials. Schmidt`s witnesses, on the other hand, include two microbiologists and several cowshare owners, all of whom will attest to the safety of raw milk.
It is a crime to sell raw milk in Canada but it is legal to offer a cowshare program which involves consumers buying a certain share of the cow`s milk, called a cowshare, and receiving their portions on usually a weekly or semi-weekly basis. This program makes cowshare owners part owners of the cattle. In this respect, Schmidt is not selling raw milk, but rather, he is offering the service of providing raw milk for the cowshare holders. He has also never had anyone become ill from the consumption of his raw milk products. So why is he being charged?
The Logic of the Charges
Canadian health officials believe that raw milk is dangerous since it can contain harmful pathogens that can cause severe health problems, including serious illness and even death. It is their belief that all milk should be pasteurized to nullify all possible pathogens. What they don`t mention is that Schmidt does not raise his cows in such conditions so as to cause the proliferation of such harmful pathogens, but rather, he uses traditional methods of raising livestock, allowing the cows access to pasture and natural feed, something foreign to most conventional farmers who have their milk pasteurized.
They also believe that raw milk is particularly dangerous for children. All around the world, including other advanced nations such as those in Europe, children consume raw milk as part of their daily diet, and they do not suffer any serious health consequences. But in Canada, experts still believe that this practice is dangerous.
A Farmer and a Movement
This trial has attracted attention from many raw milk enthusiasts in Canada and even abroad. Advocates of raw milk in British Columbia, for example, are gearing up to start their own provincial challenge of current raw milk regulations and are hoping to use this case as an example, should it be successful. South of the Canadian border, The Weston A. Price Foundation of the United States has also issued a statement on the trial, calling the recent legal actions an "attack" based on "poor arguments common in the anti-raw milk literature.``
Schmidt has not been worried about the trial which commenced yesterday, and instead views the trial as an opportunity for change. He said, "It`s the main showdown. I`m totally ready for them." Schmidt says that he hopes the government will "come to its senses" and start ongoing discussions with him to work on a program that satisfies the government`s desire for regulations and his desire to offer raw milk, and he has even offered to use his farm as a case study for research. He said, "Let`s do it for two years and if we find there is a serious problem I will shut up and be done with. For me, it makes no difference, I can do something else with this farm. But it is the principle of it.``
The question is, Will the government work with him? Only time will tell. Stay tuned to NaturalNews for an update on this important event. Should this trial be successful for Schmidt, it may usher in a new era of health freedom for Canadians and their access to raw milk.