Have We Watched Michael Schmidt’s Last Raw Milk Magic Performance?

Michael Schmidt welcomes police and regulators to his dairy in a 2012 raid.

Ever since an Ontario judge issued a permanent injunction barring Michael Schmidt from distributing raw milk to the 150 or so members of his food cooperative nearly two weeks ago, I’ve been waiting for the long protesting dairy farmer to pull a new rabbit out of his hat to allow the milk to continue flowing. After all, that is what he’s done for the last 24 years.

I expect he’ll come riding out from a farm field on horseback to try to chase the enforcers off his property if they give him a hard time, as he did once before. Or that he’ll launch yet another hunger strike until they disappear. Or that he’ll just ignore them, as he has any number of times in the past, and continue his simple business of supplying milk to families that desperately want the stuff. Or that he’ll organize his coop members to storm Ontario’s parliament and force its members to finally legalize what he’s been providing safely for so long.

But as the icy winter days tick by, and nothing happens, I begin to wonder if this time is different. That maybe Schmidt has pulled the last rabbit out of his well worn hat, and that the hat is now empty.

Schmidt says that what makes this time different from all the other legal obstacles thrown in his path before is that now he’s being threatened with criminal penalties if he fails to obey. That would likely mean huge fines and more jail time, on top of the 60-day sentence he received late last year for allegedly interfering with the regulators and blocking their confiscation truck during a 2015 raid.

The permanent injunction imposed by an Ontario judge on Jan. 5 is a disheartening thud for the internationally known protester after 24 years of resisting government efforts to shut him down. In a 25-page decision, the judge, P.W. Sutherland, indicated he was impressed by the 15,000 pages of supporting material Schmidt submitted tracing his efforts to provide raw milk on a private cooperative basis to his 150 members. “The voluminous material provided by the respondents and the (coop members) indicated that there is a high demand for the consumption of raw milk  and raw milk products,” the judge stated. “The demand is based on cultural, health, life choices and religious reasons. All these reasons are laudable and legitimate.”

Legitimate, perhaps, but not legal. Despite his sympathies, the judge declined to allow classification of the Schmidt’s group’s arrangement as a “family farm,” since the members aren’t blood relatives. And he declined to declare that “exceptional circumstances” exist, which would have allowed him to avoid issuing an injunction.

The judge seemed to talk himself out of using options he could easily have applied to allow Schmidt to continue serving the coop members. Sutherland concluded he was obligated to declare Schmidt’s unlicensed dairy illegal under Ontario’s Milk Act and its Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA), which essentially sanction a government-run cartel of licensed dairies.

Even if he obeys completely the newest order, Schmidt still faces the prospect of a steep penalty for court costs covering the injunction, likely totaling many thousands of dollars. Should he not obey the injunction, he could face further financial penalties and prison time.

One gets the sense in talking with Schmidt that he’s tired of going it alone. Yes, he’s had lots of supporters at his court appearances, but in the end, the legal burden has fallen nearly entirely on him.

Of course, much of that is intentional, part of a government process of wearing him down. As Schmidt noted, there were 70 people involved in blocking the government’s truck confiscating his dairy’s food and equipment back in 2015, but in the end, “The only person convicted was me.”

As it turns out, the government won’t be rid of raw milk. Thanks to Schmidt’s example, lots more Ontario dairies are selling raw milk illegally than was the case 24 years ago. An unknown number of Ontario citizens are traveling to Vermont and bringing raw milk with them back across the border.

As in much of the U.S., Canadian regulators are choosing to look the other way when it comes to black-market milk.

Schmidt made his decision long ago to legally challenge Canada’s dairy cartel, rather than going the underground route, and now he seems resigned to living with the consequences. He and his wife, Elisa, talk about possibly selling grass-fed beef, pork, and lamb. They also talk about setting up a music center at their farm.  Any further political action, such as a campaign to convince Ontario’s parliament to change the province’s strict no-raw-milk dairy laws, must come from coop members and others, Schmidt indicated. “Unless you put your own skin in the game, don’t feel sorry for us,” he told me.

Whatever they choose to do, you know it will be done beautifully.  In the meantime, it will be very sad to see such a passionate caretaker of the land  and dairy cows forced out of the occupation he so enjoyed, and carried out so well.

The judge may have sympathized, but obviously there is little room for compassion in a government-run mafia.

17 comments to Have We Watched Michael Schmidt’s Last Raw Milk Magic Performance?

  • Gary Ogden

    So Canada will be legalizing dope, but not raw milk. Must stop banging my head against the wall. All the best to the Schmidt’s in raising meat animals on pasture.

    • D. Smith D. Smith

      @ Gary: I’m just glad to see Canada legalize anything at all, which is a step above what the USA is doing by burying its head in the sand about almost everything connected with health, whether for good or bad, except pocket-bursting premiums which have been the fallout from obozocare and Rx drugs (read: legal) with more side effects than you can shake a stick at. Murphy’s Law: if the USA can do something wrong, it will.

      All good wishes to Michael and his family with raising all sorts of good meats, and providing comforting music in their barn. He will probably do better with those endeavors, in more ways than one, than with raw milk (with a lot less hassle).

      • Ken Conrad Ken Conrad

        D, Take heart in this statement by Winston Churchill

        “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing after they’ve tried everything else.”

    • Melissa J

      The only reason Canada is legalizing cannabis is because they fully intend to run a “government cartel” there as well; designed to squash small producers and use inane legislation to promote the interest of “licenced producers” which are a long list of corrupt the politicians, CEO’s and police who benefited from jailing these people and will do so even more with new legislation, while they mine the goldrush.

  • John Dutcher

    That is sad, but I certainly can understand why!! With the utmost respect, I send Best wishes To Michael Schmidt in any new endeavors he ventures onto, he is a very strong individual and I am sure he will succeed in whatever new direction life takes him.

    My Hat is Off To You Sir!!
    John Dutcher

  • Ken Conrad Ken Conrad

    The current Ontario Government and Canadian Federal government have little respect and tolerance for conscientious objectors especially if they are raw milk consumers, prolife advocates and parents who are apposed to vaccinating and or the teaching of insidious sex education to their children.

    • Steve Tallent

      Sadly, the same can be said of the US Govt as well. And the media is their partner in castigating and finding these folks guilty of crimes against society (even if they haven’t broken a specific law) before they ever go to trial. Basically, between govt intimidation and harassment and biased and unfair media coverage with an agenda, a person’s life can absolutely be ruined for the reasons that you list above, even if they never break any law.

  • Jack Moffitt

    I thank him for his service!

  • Political progress may be on a different track in the far west of Canada in BC. I am working with a small group of very smart raw milk activists that are fully engaged and using science, lobbying, university professors, and relationships to turn the tide.

    It will take time but I am very encouraged.

    If I were Mike I would quietly declare victory. Go deep underground. Give the farm to a collective of consumers and have owners come to the farm to get their own milk. It will be impossible to check every car that leaves with ice chests. Let this be a slow burn, long term consumer based fight. Time for Mike to spread the stress and share it with many. They can wear their own targets and bear their own burdens.

    If the people of Canada want raw milk….all must bear the burden.


  • Art Jefford

    As fresh milk is not legal milk it must be something else … Time to sell fresh cows necture harvested with the best sterilized procedures for better health

  • Contact me and I can tell you 55 places you can get raw milk, cheese, butter either picked up at the farm or delivered in Ontario! Thanks to all Michael Schmidts hard work to keep the attention on him! This has let the underground raw milk industry grow, even some licenced dairy farmers are in the game of selling raw milk in your area. Call 705-328-7197 or email [email protected] KEEP RAW MILK FLOWING IN ONTARIO!

  • Thank you for posting my service for to hook people up to get RAW MILK in ONTARIO! Bill Denby

  • Leon Moyer

    Michael Schmidt needs to research the jury nullification doctrine, so that if he gets charged with anything criminal, he should have the right to a jury trial where he can take the witness stand and testify that the government has produced no victim, and where there is no victim there is no crime, so he is not guilty. In closing argument, he or his attorney MUST be willing to instruct the jurors that they sit as JUDGES and may use their discretion to not enforce any law they believe to be unlawfully enacted or enforced by the government! Read more at http://www.fija.org

    • Vera

      Leon, Canada is not the 51st state, no matter what your nation’s Manifest Destiny” doctrine says. Stop advising Canadians on what to do, based on American law.

  • Gordon S Watson

    Leon … first, in the Dominion of Canada, we don’t have the right to a jury trial unless the the Defendant is charged with an offence in which the potential sentence is 5 years or more in prison. Second ; jury nullification did occur, in Canada, in the trials – plural – of abortionist Henry Morgue+Dollar. But it NEVER happens here, because any lawyer saying such a thing out loud, would find himself charged with contempt in facie, and hauled out of the Courtroom by the Sheriff, IMMEDIATEMENT

    In one of his trials, a juror came back to Court from a break, and told the judge that he’d been offered a bribe to acquit Morgue-y. The judge let that juror go, then never polled the others! Just one of the little anecdotes proving that most crimes are committed by the govt. The rationale by the Supremely Foolish Court of Canada, was ; that since juries would not convict Morgue-y, the law against artificial abortion had to go. So today this Dominion suffers wholesale slaughter of unborn children, whose body parts are then merchandised. How do you like feminism, so far?

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