Dairy Farmer Michael Schmidt Targeted by Authorities – Again

Canadian authorities have again targeted dairy farmer Michael Schmidt in two separate raids during the week of September 29, 2015.

Schmidt has become well known throughout his more than 20-year fight with the Canadian government over his right to distribute raw milk to those eager for it. In recent years, Schmidt reconstituted his farm into a co-op with shareholders who hold joint-ownership of the farm and can therefore drink milk from their own cows.

On September 29, York Region health officials and police officers descended on a church parking lot where co-op members were meeting to pick up their farm products. The police obtained a search warrant for health department inspectors to search Schmidt’s van and take samples of the dairy products.

Then, on October 2, more than twenty local police and health officials arrived on Schmidt’s farm and began confiscating milk and dairy equipment. Schmidt put out a call for help and soon more than 50 local raw milk activists and supporters came to his aid, blocking the driveway so the regulators were not able to depart with the stolen goods. A dramatic standoff ensued, finally ending peacefully with authorities only able to take a couple of computers before the supporters assembled.

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Raid on Co-Op Delivery Truck Leaves Michigan’s Approach to Raw Milk Unclear

On July 15, officials from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) stopped and searched a My Family Co-Op delivery truck, ultimately forcing the co-op to dump 248 gallons of raw milk and 1,200 organic eggs.

MDARD told the co-op’s director, Jenny Samuelson, that they were looking for raw dairy products other than milk. Raw milk sales in Michigan are banned except through herdshare arrangements like My Family Co-Op, which operates a herdshare with a local farm to provide raw milk, meat, eggs and honey to 600 local families. In March 2013, MDARD adopted a policy formally endorsing raw milk through herdshares but this policy excluded non-milk products.

The circumstances surrounding MDARD’s search and seizure of the My Family Co-Op truck are unclear and contradictory. Samuelson says the truck was pulled off the road for failure to have a food handler’s license that would allow her to sell the eggs and honey as a retailer – but Samuelson points out that she does not need a food license to deliver members’ products. MDARD placed some raw milk under seizure without offering explanation as to why in this statement:

“MDARD did place a seizure on illegally processed and distributed raw milk products that are not covered under a herdshare agreement. As part of our due diligence, some raw milk was placed under seizure as we work through our investigation regarding the illegal processing and distribution of raw milk products. My Family Co-Op herdshare members may still obtain milk directly from the farm while MDARD completes its investigation.”

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation. Donate to help fund research into the benefits of nutrient dense foods.  westonaprice.org/lab