Michael Schmidt Vows: “People Will Get Their Milk”


Michael Schmidt greeting police and regulators during a raid on his farm in 2012.You knew when the Ontario Court of Appeal came back in a month with a decision in Michael Schmidt’s appeal of his conviction for violating the province’s dairy laws, it wouldn’t be good news. 


Judges and their courts don’t work that quickly….unless they see an opportunity to throw out an appeal and confirm a conviction.  When they want to set new precedents, they take their time, do all kinds of research, have extensive discussions among themselves. 


And when you read through the decision rendered by the three judges, you realize they likely had their minds made up before Schmidt’s lawyers concluded their arguments, in the process moving Canada past the U.S. as the most repressive country in the world on food rights (maybe with the exception of North Korea and Cuba).  

They pretty much rejected Schmidt’s arguments out of hand….except they may have inadvertently left one door open to him that could allow him years more of distributing raw milk to the members of his cow share.…and perhaps eventually, an affirmation of the rights of individuals to access raw milk in Ontario. 


At one point in the decision, the judges seem to ridicule Schmidt’s herd share arrangement. Says Judge Robert J. Sharpe, who wrote the opinion (to which the other two judges signed their agreement): “In my view, the cow-share arrangement is nothing more than a marketing and distribution scheme that is offered to the public at large by (Schmidt).”


However, earlier in the decision, Judge Sharpe made this observation about Schmidt’s members: “The cow-share member acquires a right of access to the milk produced by the appellant’s dairy farm, a right that is not derived from an ownership interest in any cow or cows.” 


The implication is clear: If the members had “an ownership interest” in the dairy, things would be different. 


Well, it turns out the members do have an ownership interest. They each invested on the order of $2,000 a few years back to acquire an actual ownership interest in Schmidt’s farm. The reason that fact didn’t come up as part of Schmidt’s argument in the case at hand is that that case preceded the change in ownership. Remember, this case has been ongoing since 1994, when the province issued a cease-and-desist order to prohibit Schmidt from distributing milk. 


So, the ball will be in Ontario’s court. Schmidt will appeal to the Canadian Supreme Court, but the chances of even being heard there are quite slim. Assuming the decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal holds up, then it will be up to provincial regulators to decide what to do next. 


One thing is clear: Schmidt is not backing off. While he “was hoping for some light” in the appeals decision, his path is clear. “If you have a vision and you are clear in that vision, you do not give up.” 


His prediction: “This negative decision will rally people in an unprecedented way.” 


In the climate of a growing clamor by people to access the foods of their choice, it will be up to Ontario officials to decide whether to pursue him again. “It remains to be seen if they want to get in another battle with me,” Schmidt said. 


Given the standard that the judges have established—the need for cow share owners to have an ownership interest in the dairy—then the regulators might decide that discretion is the better part of valor. 


“This decision does not change anything,” Schmidt told me. “What is important is that people will get their milk.” 

19 comments to Michael Schmidt Vows: “People Will Get Their Milk”

  • mark mcafee mark mcafee
    When I was at the NFU convention, a member of the Canadian embassy was also attending as a guest member of NFU. He and I had a nice chat about raw milk and Canada. The discussion quickly dissolved into a discussion of the Canadian milk pool system and how “they keep the prices for farmers strong”. It was crystal clear that any discussion of raw milk violated the covenants of their national dairy program and their grande design. Simple as simple can be….all about money and market protections in a country that tends to “design its farm & monetary policy” instead of permitting consumer market forces to follow their own compelling flow. In our world money is king. Canadian money beats the queens raw drink.
    A very clear line was drawn this year between Midwestern states and western and eastern states. The Midwest tends to serve processors interests with the big commodity crops ie….GMO corn, soy, beef etc. while eastern and western states have huge direct market organic forces. For the first time I saw NFU delegates split on GMO issues. I have a theory: a farmers GMO and sustainably philosophies will closely track the opinions of his next in line food chain customer. If he sells to commodity brokers….he will take pride and deeply believe in GMO. If he sells to end consumers or brokers that serve end consumers…he will detest GMOs and embrace sustainably raised practices. This policy division became clear this year when GMO commodity crop growers demanded new language providing them “equal respect for growing GMO crops”. It is clear that they have obviously not felt much respect from the market place as a result of their cozy Monsanto relationships, and they wanted respect!! They simply could not wrap their brains arround why that all deserving respect was missing.

    In the interests of political peace,…I did not tell them that the respect they were yearning for would come when they “started listening to end consumers and farming for them ” and not Monsanto.

  • rawmilkmike rawmilkmike
    “American kids are prescribed on average about one course of antibiotics every year, often for ear and chest infections.”
    “By using antibiotics, we found we can actually manipulate the population of bacteria and alter how they metabolize certain nutrients,” said Ilseung Cho, MD, MS Assistant Professor of Medicine Associate Program Director, Division of Gastroenterology NYU School of Medicine

    “Another paper, published August 21 of this year in Journal of Obesity, found a strong correlation between a young child’s exposure to antibiotics and later obesity. It also reports that a disproportionate number of obese children and adults were given antibiotics before the age of six months.” http://www.alternet.org/food/can-antibiotics-make-you-gain-weight
    “It is possible that early exposure to antibiotics primes children for obesity later in life,” said researcher Martin Blaser, of NYU School of Medicine, to the school’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs.
    “So, what happened to the patients’ gut flora populations after taking cipro?”
    “Three to four days into the treatment schedule, gut diversity was lost and composition was altered. What flora remained became more homogenized, and the various ratios of the more than 400 species of bacteria that live in the gut became lopsided. One week after the conclusion of each treatment, gut flora had recovered, but only slightly. It was a shade of its former self. Diversity improved, but not to original levels. Composition began to normalize, but it was incomplete. Things were stable and the diversity/composition protected from further change, but the state of flora being protected was not the same pre-cipro state.”
    … … …
    100 years ago“50 percent of the U.S. population lived in rural areas, and 30 percent of the workforce was engaged in farming. Extension’s engagement with rural America helped make possible the American agricultural revolution, which dramatically” reduced farm profit and put most American and Mexican farmers out of business. “Fewer than 2 percent of Americans farm for a living today.” http://www.csrees.usda.gov/qlinks/extension.html
  • rawmilkmike rawmilkmike
    “A land-grant college or university is an institution that has been designated by its state legislature or Congress to receive the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890. The original mission of these institutions, as set forth in the first Morrill Act, was to teach agriculture, military tactics, and the mechanical arts as well as classical studies so that members of the working classes could obtain a liberal, practical education.”

    “The Morrill Act (Land-Grant Act) signed into law by President Lincoln in 1862, gave each state a grant of federal land within its borders for the establishment of a public institution to fulfill the act’s provisions. At times, money was appropriated through legislation such as the second Morrill Act.”

    Definition of CARPETBAGGER
    1: a Northerner in the South after the American Civil War usually seeking private gain under the reconstruction governments
    2: outsider; especially: a nonresident or new resident who seeks private gain from an area often by meddling in its business or politics


  • rawmilkmike rawmilkmike
    You don’t need to be a lawyer to know that, legally the only thing a regulator could possibly require is the customer’s signature on the back of a napkin, stating that they know the product is unpasteurized and uninspected.
  • truthseeker00
    The genuine ownership is the obvious step, not that it is going to stop a corrupt government/industry partnership intent on depriving individuals of the right to produce and consume food outside of industrial food control. At least we can make them man up to what they are really trying to do. There are no laws against any number of people owning or buying a farm together. We must go beyond ‘herd-share’ or ‘cow-share’ and legitimately create dairy farms owned by many individuals, sharing costs, risks, taxes, etc.. Frankly, it might reduce the price of milk anyway if the costs of the farm were shared widely. The important thing will be in carefully employing trustworthy individuals to oversee operations – no stooges.
  • Ken Conrad Ken Conrad
    You correctly stated, “It was crystal clear that any discussion of raw milk violated the covenants of their national dairy program and their grande design. Simple as simple can be….all about money and market protections in a country that tends to “design its farm & monetary policy” instead of permitting consumer market forces to follow their own compelling flow.”

    The NFU in Canada has its provincial affiliates. In Ontario, it’s the Ontario Farmers Union (OFU). The OFU along with two other government approved general farm organizations, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), and the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario (CFFO) receive their funding via a government mandated Farm Business Registration (FBR) program, that farmers are required to participate in. Registration is done on a yearly basis and a fee of $220.35 must be paid in full to the general farm organization (GFO) of ones choice.

    The above general farm organizations are beholden to the government and are merely another rung in the ladder of “top-down” government administration.

    As I stated in David’s last article with respect to the FCC article I linked to, “The objective is increased efficiency by increasing the average herd size, in other words, cheap food at the expense of small family farms and rural communities.”


    Yes, the only way one can satisfy their desire to consume raw milk in Ontario is to take ownership of a farm and its livestock or else take ownership of their inalienable right and purchase it on the black market. In Canada, black market sales of raw milk have persisted and increased ever since 1938 when the Ontario Health Act required pasteurization.

    History has clearly shown that the black market is the laws nemesis and a force to be reckoned with.


  • rawmilkmike rawmilkmike
    “It was crystal clear that any discussion of raw milk violated the covenants of their national dairy program” Kind of like suggesting that raw milk may have a negative risk factor to a food safety professor, in the united states.
  • Ora Moose Ora Moose
    Here’s an excellent interview with David covering food perspectives that may not be earth shattering news to most of us here, but might be something you want to pass on to your friends and family that need to be educated and enlightened:


  • Ora Moose Ora Moose
    Quote: “The idea was to pasteurize the milk and have it be as much like raw milk as possible,” Judge said. “High Temperature Short Time (HTST) pasteurizer, which holds milk at 161 degrees for 15 seconds. It’s the first one to get FDA approval.”

    Dead milk cannot compare to the real thing no matter how it’s killed.

    Why can’t these people understand that we want our milk to NOT be processed in any way? These concepts of local pasteurization may seem attractive compared to having to ship to big processors, but the end result is the same and they still compete with the big boys to sell the same krap.


  • David Gumpert David Gumpert

    Thanks, Ora. Good way of describing the target market for the interview. The interviewer asked basic but pointed questions about corporate food interests, government actions against small farms, food safety, raw milk, and other such issues. 

  • mark mcafee mark mcafee
    The Stanford Raw Milk Lactose Intolerance study partially funded by OPDC and other raw milk supporters has finally been published. It was known years ago that the principal investigator Dr. Gardner ignored 424 study volunteers and screened the 440 respondents ( that claimed they had lactose intolerance ) with a HBT test that identified only the most severe mal-digesters of lactose leaving just 16 in the study!!!!

    Sadly, he himself stated in the study results that a modest acclimization effect could be seen in the raw milk drinking test population, but that it was not significant and it was disregarded. The headlines disregard this data!!!

    I argued with Dr. Gardner about this disregard for facts and study data only to see the news exploit the pro people problem side of the problem and disregard the pasteurization problem.

    This study only lasted 8 days and failed to permit the intestinal colonization of beneficial bacteria that produce lactase for humans. This study needed to go on for several more weeks. More over, the study must include the other 424 volunteers that claimed gut problems when drinking milk, instead of discounting them. Under real market conditions those 424 are dollar voters and chose raw milk when given the choice and experience.

    It is rediculous to think that a real market study would be different than a controlled study. People will refuse to drink raw milk if it is non digestible in a study or in the market….to the contrary, in the market, consumers that experience serious digestion problems with pasteurized milk, joyously, can and do drink raw milk with no problems!! The Dr. Ted Beals MD Michigan raw milk study found that very few consumers had any problems drinking raw milk, but large portions of the population could not drink pasteurized milk.

    The media takes from studies what it wants…..and disregards the bigger questions .

  • mark mcafee mark mcafee
    One more thing….one of the medical journals that cited the Stanford study even quoted the FDA as saying, RawMilk contains no probiotic bacteria. The levels of hypocrisy, outright lies and corrupt deception reach the levels that cause spontaneous laughter!!!

    Back to reality….why is it that tens of thousands of consumers every week report to OPDC and other raw milk producers that they are now able to drink milk again after years of gas and diarrhea with pasteurized milk??? People are not stupid. The placebo effect can not be that strong. People would never buy raw milk at four times the cost of pasteurized if it caused them the same problems.

    Lets get real here….the market study is what really counts. A study can be designed to shown what ever the designer wants. I just wish I would have known more before investing in a Stanford study that was so poorly designed (as to not include 95% of the respondents) and was obviously too short.

  • Ken Conrad Ken Conrad
    Ora, your article parallels the FCC article I provided a link to earlier on.

    The article I referenced blamed the inefficiency of small farms as reason for Canada inability to compete for world markets. The article states, “And some of these farms, it claims, are inefficient. The report estimates the top 25 per cent of dairy farms produce almost half of Canada’s milk supply. The other half is produced by medium- and low-efficiency farmers, who drive milk target prices… “These farmers”, (as in small famers), “rely less on operational efficiency and more on market restrictions”.

    I can assure you most small farmers in Canada don’t give a shit about world markets and as far as market restrictions are concerned all that farmers want is a decent price for their milk so that they can make a living and provide for their families. The only ones that do care about world markets are the larger operations involved in the milk marketing board who have had this global economy carrot that relies on so-called efficiency dangled in front of their noses by the industry and government at large.

    Your article states, “Big herds got bigger, small farms either expanded or went under… In 2011, herds of 100 or more cows made up less than a third of the industry, but accounted for 86.4 percent of all milk production.” This statistic pretty much parallels what has happened in Canada.

    Your article further states, “Parsons emphasized that pasteurization is just one step in a long process getting milk from cows, into bottles, and to the stores that will sell it”.

    Indeed pasteurization may be only one step but it’s the major and most important step that allows milk to be stored for long periods of time; a necessity if one wishes to ship their milk long distances or out of state, and in Vermont’s case 85% of its milk.

    The conundrum for these monopolistic control freaks is getting milk to market, the world market no less, and this needs to be done as cheaply as possible. There used to be small dairies (processing and bottling plants) dotted across the countryside and raw milk didn’t have to travel more then 20 miles from farm to dairy and likewise to consumer. These small community dairies would supply all the various dairy products a small town or city would need. Today in the name of “greater efficiency” and “world markets” small community dairies are virtually none existent and the small dairy farms that used to supply them are disappearing as well. Currently the bulk of fresh raw milk travels no less then 200 miles to the nearest processing facility where it is stored in huge silos that hold tens of thousands of gallons of milk, after which it is processed and shipped to God only knows where.

    Pasteurization is what gives these large dairy plants their reason to exist. Cheap transportation and cheap regulated milk are what justify their existence. Ever increasing fuel prices however are putting the squeeze on the above scenario and might very well be its Achilles heel.


  • Thank you for the background on the Stanford study.

    Someone who occasionally feeds pasteurized milk to their dogs tells me that it causes diarrhea. But the dogs can drink raw milk without a problem. Doubt that is due to a Placebo effect.

  • It now occurs to me that we can call states or countries that prohibit raw milk as “Milk Deserts”

    As analogous to the so called “Food Deserts” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_desert

  • David Gumpert David Gumpert

    Mark, besides all the problems you note with the Stanford study paper, there was another, an inherent inconsistency. The FDA has long estimated that between 30 and 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant. That is up to one-sixth of the population. Yet the Stanford researcher could only certify about 20 people out of several hundred who volunteered and presented themselves as lactose intolerant as being truly lactose intolerant. 

    I suspect the FDA is way off in its estimate of people who have medically definable lactose intolerance. All the other people, the 30-50 million, have other issues–allergies or digestion problems–that cause problems with pasteurized milk. 

    That inherent inconsistency draws into question the integrity of the Stanford study. It was based on assessing the impact of raw milk on a condition that hasn’t been adequately defined by the public health and medical establishments. Indeed, the medical and public health establishment is now ridiculing those people who volunteered, who have problems consuming dairy products, as just more kooks and weirdos who imagine that raw milk eases their dairy problems.  Amazing how reality gets turned on its ear. 

  • Ora Moose Ora Moose
    Catch 22: Raw milk is dangerous because it’s illegal, and it’s illegal because it’s dangerous.

    “Despite Europe’s emerging stance on raw milk, U.S. health professionals say organic milk and non-dairy options are the best option for Americans, especially since raw milk is illegal in most states.”


  • mark mcafee mark mcafee
    If the 440 study volunteers had been included in the project then perhaps the broader question of the 40% of the entire population problem could perhaps have been appreciated

    Dr. Heckman and David. Both of your observations are brilliant. One of the things I learned from this narrow study is that the ‘Hydrogen Breath Test is not the decider or basis for why people have problems with milk. That one finding and conclusion is important. Now we can design a better test to study the true problem. Or forget the narrow blinders of modern science all together, and just follow the market test and believe in people and what they report.

  • rawmilkmike rawmilkmike
    But you see, this is what we have been saying all along. All these people who can’t tolerate dairy products are not lactose intolerant. They are pasteurized milk intolerant. So they are actually agreeing with us. Does it really matter what you call it? They are arguing over semantics. We are saying people who can’t drink pasteurized milk can drink raw milk. They are the ones that called it lactose intolerance, not us.

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