Michael Schmidt out on Bail; Moving Forward with Appeal of Conviction


On November 22 Durham Ontario dairy farmer Michael Schmidt was granted bail and released from serving a 60-day jail sentence pending the farmer’s appeal of a conviction for obstructing a peace officer; Schmidt posted a $2,500 bond to secure his release. Schmidt had been convicted on October 19 for the offense; subsequently, Justice Ronald Minard of the Ontario Court of justice sentenced Schmidt to sixty days in jail with time to be served over fifteen consecutive weekends. The farmer had served eight days of his sentence at the time bail was granted. Four others–Enos Martin, Robert Pinnell, George Bothwell and John Schnurr–were charged with a similar offense; Schnurr was found not guilty and charges were dropped against Martin, Pinnell and Bothwell.

The charge against Schmidt stems from an October 2, 2015, raid of his farm. Schmidt and 70 supporters were at the farm when government officials possessing a warrant were blocked from leaving the premises in a van containing equipment and dairy products. The officials left only after leaving the seized materials at the farm; multiple provincial and municipal government agencies participated in the raid.

The government obtained a warrant to search the farm on the grounds that it needed to investigate Schmidt to determine whether the farmer was violating the Ontario Milk Act. The Act prohibits the sale or distribution of raw milk for human consumption; many believe this provision only applies to raw milk sold or distributed to the general public.Schmidt only distributes milk to individuals who own shares in his farm; he distributes no milk to anyone who isn’t a shareholder.

Schmidt is appealing the conviction for the obstruction of a peace officer as well as a court ruling holding that the 23 months the case went on did not violate the speedy trial provision contained in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Canadian Supreme Court has interpreted this provision to mean that, if it takes more than 18 months between the time charges are brought and the end of trial in provincial court cases, there is an automatic presumption the delay is unreasonable. In Schmidt’s case the Justice agreed with the Crown’s argument that the presumption shouldn’t apply because there were exceptional circumstances in the case.1

A petition on Change.org to free Schmidt that drew over 7,500 signatures helped draw greater attention to the draconian sentence given the farmer who was only trying to keep the government from confiscating the private property of his shareholders; property the government arguably didn’t have jurisdiction to take. The petition noted that when tainted meat from Maple Leaf Foods was found to have killed 22 people and sickened many more in 2008, the Crown never brought charges against anyone with the company. Schmidt has produced raw milk for over 30 years; no one has ever accused him of making anyone sick.2

For the last 23 years the government has unsuccessfully tried to shut down Schmidt’s efforts to provide healthy dairy products to educated and informed consumers; its endless harassment has cost taxpayers millions of dollars and made a North American icon out of a small farmer in the process. Schmidt might not have been able to change the law but he has had a huge impact, substantially increasing the demand for and supply of raw milk since the time the government started persecuting him. There are significantly more dairy farmers in Canada today distributing raw milk through herdshare and farm-share programs; Schmidt’s decades long campaign of non-violent resistance to unjust laws has emboldened them. The situation in Canada with the prohibition on raw milk sales in all provinces is becoming more similar to the situation in the U.S. with the interstate raw milk ban; greater numbers of otherwise law abiding citizens are violating these laws with regularity. It’s time for provincial and municipal governments in Canada to acknowledge reality, leave Schmidt alone, and stop interpreting provincial raw milk laws to cover distribution to farm and dairy animal owners.

Michael and Elise Schmidt are trying to raise funds to cover the cost of his court battle. Those supporting freedom of choice are encouraged to back Schmidt’s fight by donating at GoFundMe.com/foodrights. The farmer is a little more than halfway to reaching his goal of raising $100,000.

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Top photo from Owen Sound Sun Times by Don Crosby, “Raw milk advocate Schmidt released pending obstruction appeals”, November 23, 2017. Accessed 12/1/2017 at http://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/2017/11/23/raw-milk-advocate-schmidt-released-pending-obstruction-appeals

1. Don Crosby, “Raw Milk Advocate Schmidt Found Guilty of Obstruction”, The Owen Sound Sun Times, 20 October 2017. Accessed 11/30/2017 at http://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/2017/10/20/raw-milk-advocate-schmidt-found-guilty-of-obstruction

2. Laura Redman, “FREE Ontario FARMER Michael Schmidt – CHANGE CANADA’s ARCHAIC RAW MILK LAW”, Change.org, November 2017. Accessed 11/30/2017 at https://www.change.org/p/kathleen-wynne-free-ontario-farmer-michael-schmidt-change-canada-s-archaic-raw-milk-law

Michael Schmidt in front of the Walkerton Court House at an earlier stage of the Obstruction trial on August 25th, 2017. [Source: The Bovine Press, “Michael Schmidt was Convicted in Walkerton Court of Obstruction”]

Raw milk activist and farmer Michael Schmidt was convicted yesterday (Oct. 19th, 2017) in Walkerton court of obstructing a peace officer. The charge arises from a raid on Glencolton Farms on October 2nd, 2015 in which investigators were prevented — by the crowds of supporters — from leaving the farm with equipment which they had seized. They were eventually allowed to leave once the equipment had been removed from the truck. Read the full post


Graphic from Facebook post by the Natural Health Products Protection Association (NHPPA) shared 11/14/2017 on Glencolton Farms. Here’s the opening excerpt from that post:

Chances are slim any of you spent the weekend in jail. At 6:00 pm Friday November 10, 2017 raw milk farmer, food rights advocate and social activist Michael Schmidt entered the Central North Correctional Centre, a maximum security prison in Penetanguishene, Ontario. It is both a remand facility and one where time is served for a range of minor offenses and serious crimes. For Michael, it was the first of a 60 day “rehabilitation and deterrence” sentence to be served on weekends.

NHPPA connected with Michael before his 3 hour drive from farm to prison and asked him to send this post’s accompanying selfie. “When I was there to get processed [earlier in the week] I was asked by a guard what my obstruction of an officer was for and I just said one word, “Milk”. Then the whole high security dynamic of what they were doing suddenly changed. Other guards came up to me and said “You’re the one!” I heard a guard say “you are the most ridiculous inmate we’ve got from the government”. We had wonderful talks and a couple shared that they that they had grown up on farms and drank raw milk. It was a remarkable experience so that, in a way, I’m looking forward to going in there because of what it does. It reflects back to the intention of the government that they want to punish. And for the wrong things. At the same time it brings out exactly what’s wrong with government. I have no idea what kinds of inmates I’ll be with but it doesn’t worry me at all.”

NHPPA asked about where his younger children were told that their father was going on weekends. “The night before I had to leave we had a really exciting time! We went on the computer together and looked up all the pictures we could find of the jail. I told them, “Look, this is where I’m going to sleep, and this is where I’m going to play with the other inmates, and that’s the room where we all eat and so on”. They asked if I will get to go outside. I said, “No, no. They want to make sure that I will stay warm. There’s also a big fence around it so that no one can come in and steal Papa”. So, they were totally fine. I also told them if “they don’t clean up your rooms, then Papa can’t go to jail!” They cleaned their rooms quickly that night. It was completely turned around. It’s an excitement now. I promised I will tell them everything about how it is on the inside, and if possible, that I would take them with me next time but that they might not be let in because only Papa has done “so much work to be there.”

“All I can say about my adult children and how they feel comes from one comment from my daughter in Germany. She read that I got sentenced and that the judge had said that he has to send a warning to others and a deterrent to Mr. Schmidt that his behaviour and actions are unacceptable. My daughter wrote something like, “as if this is going to stop my dad”. So, they’re all totally fine.”

Original item posted on NHPPA Facebook page

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Canadian Raw Milk in Parliament

 

New Canadian Raw Milk Petition Grants Producers, Consumers a Possible Voice in Policy

 

QueenieCanadian raw milk is gaining appeal to the people of Canada. Canadian citizen, Cory Harris, has launched a petition directed to the Minister of Health. The petition states, in part:

“We, the undersigned, Citizens of Canada, call upon the Minister of Health to Modernize and amend the Food and Drugs Act and the corresponding Food and Drug Regulations, to permit the legal sale of, and/or access to, raw (i.e. unpasteurized) milk and milk products through small scale certified herd share programs, or other such suitable arrangements, capable of managing any associated health risks in a responsible and reasonable manner.”

In Canada, this petition is required to be brought before the House of Commons if it reaches 500 signature before the end date. As of this writing, the Canadian raw milk petition is over 3,400 signatures with an August 11, 2016 deadline for signatures.

The Canadian government is required to respond to each petition that is read in the House of Commons. The government has 45 days to respond to each petition that garners the necessary number of signatures. Once the deadline passes, the petition will be read in the House of Commons when they return from recess.

Canadians have the opportunity to make this the number one issue on the petition site with an influx of signatures over the next two months. This would send the message loudly and clearly that it is past time the Canadian government reevaluates its outdated position on the prohibition of fresh milk. Please sign the petition and ask your Canadian raw milk friends to do the same.

Different than the US, the Prime Minister’s cabinet is made up of sitting Members of Parliament (MPs). These members are elected to their position in the House of Commons and then chosen by the Prime Minister as members of his cabinet. The current minister of Health, which is the designated recipient of the petition, is Jane Philpott. She will most likely be the one who responds to the petition after it is presented in the House of Commons.

As the Canadian raw milk petition makes its way through the proper procedures, there will be many opportunities to ask friends in Canada to share and sign the petition, write letters and bring greater awareness of raw milk to the Canadian public. Make sure to stay up to date on what’s happening by following this blog.

To learn more about raw milk and other nutrient dense foods, visit westonaprice.org

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Canadian Raw Milk Petition

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Canadian Raw Milk Petition Garners Thousands of Signatures in a Few Weeks

Just a couple of weeks after we originally reported on this petition, the Canadian Raw milk petition has soared past 2700 signatures putting it in the top 12 active petitions on the site.

When we first reported on it, we asked members to send the information to friends and family in Canada so they could sign the Canadian Raw Milk Petition. While we have made it past the initial 500 signatures needed in order to make sure this issue is heard in Parliament, we want to see the Canadian Raw Milk Petition in the top three on the site so that we can show the Canadian government and the Canadian people that a policy change is long past due.

Please add your voice to the other thousands who have signed by going to the petition site and filling out the requested information.

Action:

  1. Sign the petition
  2. Using email or social media, spread the word and ask others to sign it. Sample wording below.

Canadian citizens are petitioning their government to create meaningful dialogue about raw milk availability. Please sign this petition and ask others to do the same. You do not need to be a raw milk drinker or even a supporter to sign this petition. This is about our rights as citizens to choose the foods of our choice from the producer of our choice.

Thank you.

Unlike in the United States where raw milk is legal in most states, Canada raw milk laws are much stricter making it almost impossible for farmers to provide raw milk to the people who want it.

A recent court case has brought this issue to the attention of Canadians. On March 16th 2016, a huge rally outside an Ontario courthouse, showed tremendous support for the Canadian raw milk farmers who are providing the wonderful health food to their communities.

Blogger and activist, Liz Reitzig, chronicles the case, the hearing and the farm of noted raw milk farmer, Michael Schmidt. To get a sense of the farmers who are targeted and what the government is trying to do to these farmers, take a look at her article about Glencolton Farms.

For those in Canada who are looking for a reliable source for raw milk, check out the Real Milk website.

To learn more about raw milk and other nutrient dense foods, visit westonaprice.org

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Michael Schmidt Faces Possible 10 Years In Prison

International Legal Defense Funding Requested to Help Court Costs for Michael Schmidt

In recent news, Michael Schmidt faces ongoing legal harassment for running his dairy operation in Ontario Canada. But, it is not technically his dairy operation that has him facing 10 years in prison.

In writing about this case, bloggers note that:

Sometimes it is someone’s humility that has the greatest impact on us rather boisterous heroics. Such is the case with Ontario farmer Michael Schmidt. For 21 years, Schmidt has peacefully run his farm and provided his community with fresh, nourishing foods including raw milk. Schmidt produces raw dairy products for a group of families who want these foods and go to great lengths to obtain them.

In a recent article about Michael Schmidt, it states:

“In fact, these families have actually purchased the farm from Schmidt and his wife, Elisa, in an attempt to avoid violating the law. Absurdly, Canadian law outlaws raw milk distribution. It is legal for farmers to drink raw milk from their own animals, but not to distribute it. Schmidt claims that it is his natural right to peacefully farm and to provide clean, wholesome food to his community, so he continues to milk the cows and make the products available to the community of farm owners. Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) and other Canadian agencies, both federal and local, continue to harass him for this peaceful act.”

Rather than responding to the antagonism in kind, Michael calls on the strength of character to search for a positive outcome despite the Canadian government attempting to escalate it. As the government continues to treat Michael like a violent criminal, Michael remains peaceful.

“Schmidt continues to challenge the government on its authority to criminalize him and his community over milk. This past summer, the government escalated its harassment of him and the farm owners, by planting surveillance cameras on the road by the property to spy on anyone entering or leaving the farm. Schmidt discovered the cameras and publicly questioned who put them there and why. A concerned neighbor removed the cameras, leading to theft charges against Schmidt.

When he reported to the police station for identification, authorities demanded that he submit to fingerprinting – a procedure not required for the type of offense he was charged with. When he refused, he was jailed overnight, before being forcibly fingerprinted in the morning and set free. Meanwhile, around this time the MNRF and a multi-agency task force conducted multiple raids on his farm and delivery vehicle.

During one farm raid, farm owners, concerned neighbors and community members blocked the driveway and prevented the government from removing thousands of dollars’ worth of food and farm equipment. The government then said that the peaceful activists were promoting “anti-government” sentiment. Five people present at that raid have been charged by the West Grey Police for ‘obstructing police.’”

His raw milk politics have him in hot water, but the 10-year prison term is over the sheep case he became embroiled in over 3 years ago. It takes a lot to dispel the government of the notion that peaceful people should go to prison for saving harmless animals from abuse, nonetheless, that is what Michael is facing. We have a chance to help his legal defense through a fundraising effort that now seeks a final push past the initial limit so that the team supporting him can make the best possible effort to keep this modern milk hero free and farming.

Donate to their legal expenses. All donations at this link go to the Canadian Constitution Foundation in support of Michael and Montana’s legal fees.

Follow the cases on the Facebook groups page.

The original fund set up by the CCF shows that it is fully funded. However, with the additional charges and the pre trial hearings taking many months, they are in dire need to legal funding immediately and ongoing. In an effort to save a farm, save a farmer and save a family, please donate what you can and remain involved in this case as we watch the dramatic impact that true humility can have on a community.

To learn more about raw milk and other nutrient dense foods, visit westonaprice.org

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