This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture


Michael Schmidt won his latest raw milk battle, but the war rages on

luke champion

Rising Agricultural Costs Force Food Prices Higher

Michael Schmidt, the dairy farmer whose David-and-Goliath battle with the Ontario government has turned him into somewhat of an emerging folk hero, wants to restore liberty to the dairy aisle of your local supermarket. There is, he says, no place for the state in the kitchens of the nation.

Schmidt successfully defended himself last month in an Ontario Court of Justice against 19 charges relating to the sale of milk products, and last week it was announced he’ll be headed back. We highlighted Schmidt’s crusade in January as part of our Legalize Everything issue, and, briefly, it seemed Schmidt’s campaign was moving forward. But as the National Post reports, the government of Ontario has other plans:

The Ontario government will appeal last month’s court ruling that made it legal to distribute raw milk in the province under certain circumstancesThe judge had ruled that Mr. Schmidt’s “cow-share” program constituted a legal work-around of the restrictions against selling raw milk. The appeal argues that Justice of the Peace Paul Kowarsky made several legal errors.

The Government of Ontario maintains that raw milk is a health hazard and allowing its sale could have serious consequences. Karen Selick of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, who has aligned herself with Schmidt in his defense, explains that JP Kowarsky’s ruling pertains specifically to Schmidt’s case and meticulous care for his product and “should not be seen as carte blanche for irresponsible yahoos to start peddling unpasteurized milk.”

But the Durham, Ont. farmer insists this is not simply a milk issue, but rather an issue of the rights of an individual to decide what one puts in their body. While last month’s ruling might have given Schmidt some wiggle room, his crusade is far from over.

Mr. Schmidt had argued that if he were found guilty of violating the law, the statutes themselves should be struck down as a violation of his constitutional right to “life, liberty and security of the person.”

In Canada it’s legal to consume raw milk, but the sale and distribution of it is prohibited. This makes access to the product all but impossible for those living outside of rural areas. Schmidt has vowed to take his cause all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. No date has been set for the province’s appeal yet. We’ll keep an eye on the trial and keep you updated.

Show Comments