Raw Milk Enforcement Moves to Alberta, Canada


Raw milk enforcement actions continue in Canada; this time it’s Alberta. The Crown has brought three charges against Innisfail farmer David Rand for alleged violations of Alberta’s dairy law: the unlicensed production or processing of dairy products, selling raw milk, and “obstructing, hindering or impeding an inspector in carrying out their duties” under the Alberta Dairy Industry Act. A trial will likely take place this fall; each of the charges carries a maximum $25,000 fine. [For those who would like to support Rand, a GoFundMe campaign has been set up at ca.gofundme.com/dairy-freedom.]

In addition to the charges, the Alberta Health Services (AHS) has issued a “Notice of Closure” to Rand ordering him to “cease and desist the distribution, transport, processing or sale of unpasteurized milk or unpasteurized milk products.” One of the grounds for the order was that “distributing, transporting, processing or selling unpasteurized milk products” was in violation of an Alberta health regulation stating, “no person shall create, commit or maintain a nuisance.” Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AAF) issued a second order to Rand, a “Notice of Seizure or Detention” requiring that all milking equipment and any dairy products, including all future production, remain on Rand’s farm.

The charges and the orders against Rand stem from a November 7, 2018, raid on Rand’s farm and a supposed raw milk distribution site in Red Deer, Alberta, by officials from both AAF and AHS as well as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The officials conducted the raid at both locations without any warrant.

The law in Alberta, as in all provinces of Canada, prohibits any sale of raw milk; there is a federal ban in the country as well. The ban has served as a protection racket for dairy industry but some of the farmers making up the industry might want to consider obtaining another outlet for their milk. The Canadian quota system has been held as a model for the struggling U.S. dairy industry but there has been a tremendous decline in the number of Canadian dairies, falling from nearly 140,000 in 1960 to fewer than 12,000 today according to The Globe and Mail.1

In Ontario, there is an ongoing court case where 21 Ontario farmers and consumers have filed in a Toronto Superior Court a constitutional challenge to the province’s ban on raw milk sales and distribution.2 In 2010 an Ontario court ruled in a case the Crown had brought against Michael Schmidt for illegally selling raw dairy that there was a legal distinction between the public and private distribution of food and that informed consumers can waive the protection of public health laws. That ruling was reversed on appeal; raw milk proponents could use a similar decision in the country that is the most oppressive in the world when it comes to enforcement against raw milk sales and distribution.

Supporters of raw milk access in Canada may go to the educational Facebook page for Farm-Fresh-Milk (be sure to include the hyphens). The intention is to show that raw milk needs to be on the policy platform of every party. There is also a website with a petition for Canadians to have the right to obtain fresh milk produced by local farms recognized by the legislation; to endorse “We Choose Fresh” petition, go to www.farmfreshmilk.ca/wechoosefresh.

Links:
GoFundMe – https://ca.gofundme.com/dairy-freedom
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Farm-Fresh-Milk-217362812483137
Petition – http://www.farmfreshmilk.ca/wechoosefresh

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[1] Barrie McKenna, “Canada’s dairy industry is a rich, closed club”, The Globe and Mail, 25 June 2015 (updated 15 May 2018), https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canadas-dairy-industry-is-a-rich-closed-club/article25124114/
[2] Pete Kennedy, “Farmers & Consumers Challenge Raw Milk Ban”, RealMilk.com, 19 February 2018, https://www.realmilk.com/farmers-consumers-file-constitutional-challenge-ontario-raw-milk-ban/