Something very important happened at Michael Schmidt’s Glencolton Farm in Northern Ontario today.
Some twenty or so enforcers, from a half-dozen Canadian regulatory agencies and local police, descended on the farm at mid-day Friday, and began confiscating milk and dairy equipment. While they did their dirty work, Schmidt put out an emergency request via his Facebook page and friends like Liz Reitzig, for supporters to come, together with their video cameras. Within an hour, more than 50 people had assembled.
At about 3:30, when the regulators were ready to depart, they asked the assembled supporters to move aside in the driveway to let the truck with the stolen milk and equipment depart. Nothing doing. It was a “standoff” at Michael Schmidt’s farm, as he described it.
Karen Selick, a lawyer with the Canadian Constitution Foundation, which has been providing Schmidt with legal representation in his fights with the government over raw milk and the sheep-napping cases, sent out a worried Facebook message at about 2:15: “Michael says as many as 50 people might be arrested today. There are about 20 bureaucrats from different departments swarming the farm, protected by 5 or 6 police officers.”
Marianne Else, a longtime supporter recounted on Facebook that when the bureaucrats wanted to leave, and asked the people to clear the driveway, they refused, even after being threatened with arrest. Supporters had also moved a large tractor to block the driveway further. The bureaucrats then apparently made their first smart decision of the day: they concluded that arresting 50 ordinary citizens trying to protect a farmer who supplied them with raw milk wouldn’t play well on the evening news. They unloaded the stolen stuff, and took off.
At about 3:40, Schmidt sent out a message on Facebook: “We won. They are leaving and all the confiscated stuff stays.”
For the first time since the latest raw milk wars began in 2006, people had stood up to the enforcers and physically blocked them from stealing their food. In Canada, of all places, where everyone is always nice and polite….except when they aren’t.
According to a Canadian news report, authorities did make off with one or two of Schmidt’s computers, before sympathizers blocked the driveway. In a 10-minute YouTube video posted late Friday evening, Schmidt said in an interview by news reporters that the raiders seemed “relieved” that they were able to negotiate the deal to leave the milk and equipment and get the hell out. “I hope this will send a message that people will not back down….It is their food.”
While this little drama was unfolding, there was more good news for Schmidt: enough money poured into his crowdfunding campaign for his legal defense in the sheep-napping case to prompt author and naturopathic physician Ron Schmid to match the contributions, and put the campaign over its $50,000 goal; Ron Schmid wound up donating half the total. By this evening, contributions were still coming in, and will be accepted, until the campaign ends tomorrow.
While the media report on the cases against Schmidt—the raw milk and sheep-napping cases—as if they are discrete events, the reality is that Canadian bureaucrats are throwing pretty much everything they have at the activist farmer, nearly without regard to which case is involved. When I spoke with Schmidt on Wednesday, he agreed. “I take that as a good sign,” he said. “It means we are heading in the right direction.”
The new Foundation for Nutritional Wisdom launched its web site today, and simultaneously began accepting registrations to its first annual conference Nov. 21-22, “Bringing Together the Paleo, Primal and Weston Price Communities”.