by Pete Kennedy, Esq.
The Canadian Artisan Dairy Alliance (CADA) has begun operations. CADA is a collective of consumers working to lift Canada’s raw milk ban. The organization’s mission is using research, education, and advocacy to “lobby for access to safe, legal, raw milk and raw milk products produced under appropriate regulation and inspection.”
When it comes to raw milk laws and enforcement, Canada is arguably the most draconian nation in the world. In February 2021 an Ontario judge rejected a Charter (constitutional) challenge to end that province’s raw milk ban; subsequent to that decision government regulators have raided Ontario raw milk farmers, including Michael Schmidt, the individual most responsible for the increase in demand for raw milk among Canadian consumers. Canadians are among the one percent of the world’s population living in countries prohibiting the sale or distribution of raw milk. An organization like CADA is badly needed to turn around the hostile climate that currently exists.
Those interested in supporting CADA can join as members, donate and/or help with lobbying. Go to artisandairy.ca for more information.
On November 23, District Court Judge LC Rowe sentenced the defendants from the first of nine raw milk farms facing criminal charges when he fined both farmers of Alt Energy Farm—Cedric Backhouse and his wife Susan Galea (a WAPF chapter leader)—NZ$25,000 each for violations of New Zealand’s raw milk and animal products laws.
The New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industry (MPI) had brought criminal charges against Backhouse and Galea for 26 violations of the country’s Raw Milk for Sale to Consumers Regulations 2015 (the “2015 regulations”) and the Animal Products Act (APA); the potential penalties for each defendant were up to 19 years in jail and NZ$1.8 million (over 1.2 million in U.S. dollars) in fines (see Wise Traditions Spring, 2021 issue for more background).
Around the time MPI issued the 2015 regulations there were roughly 200 raw milk dairies in New Zealand; today fewer than 20 percent of those dairies are still in business. The reason for the decline is the cost of compliance with the new regulations. Backhouse and Galea attempted to avoid the burdensome requirements by distributing meat and milk products through a herdshare agreement which they operated for three years. The judge rejected the legality of the farm’s herdshare stating, “It was simply a way of selling raw milk to consumers.”
Judge Rowe imposed the fine for four of the 26 charges that MPI brought against Backhouse and Galea; three of the charges related to the sale of raw milk and the fourth to the sale of “homekill meat.” The judge acknowledged that neither defendant had been accused of making anyone sick with their products; he also noted in sentencing the defendants, “[N]either of you have previous convictions and you can be regarded as otherwise of good character”— all mitigating factors in determining the amount of the fine. Chillingly he stated, “I do not start at imprisonment (in deciding on the penalty) because I am not asked to. This is something MPI should reflect on. If I had been asked to consider penalties other than a fine, including imprisonment, I would have. . . . The outcome of this sentencing should not be taken as any sort of guide to or tariff in future cases”—leaving open the threat of the other charged raw milk farmers going to jail for violating laws designed to put them out of business.
This article first appeared in the Winter 2021 issue of Wise Traditions in Food, Farming, and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation.