A rendering of Ontario farmers Montana Jones and Michael SchmidtBack in 2010, Canadian agriculture authorities launched a campaign to kill and test for scrapie a herd of rare Shropshire sheep owned by Ontario farmer Montana Jones. By 2012, after the Canadian authorities refused all Jones’ compromise offers and were set to remove the sheep, they mysteriously disappeared. Months later, authorities found the sheep on an Ontario farm, killed and tested them, and found no sign of scrapie. But they charged Jones and Ontario dairy farmer Michael Schmidt, along with two others, in connection with the sheep’s disappearance. 

In early 2013, Jones and the others were charged with conspiracy and other criminal offenses that have the potential to land them in jail for up to 12 years and result in fines of over $1 million. Jones’ farm has remained under quarantine even as the criminal case has proceeded at a snail’s pace, thanks to various procedural challenges by the government. (Further background on the case is provided by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.)

In just the last few days, an Ontario court has scheduled two weeks of a preliminary trial, to begin next Feb. 17. The seemingly endless legal case has taken a psychological toll on Jones, just as the government intended with its procedural delays. She recently described some of her internal conflicts in a post on Facebook, which I thought worthy of republishing here. 


By Montana Jones

Thank-you for holding up, even when I go down…even when I go dark.

I’ve been mostly quiet, waiting. Waiting for light, for inspiration, for renewed spirit, for solutions regarding the future and the farm and waiting for the date to be set for the preliminary hearing.

Don’t have all the answers yet. Forging ahead and trusting they will appear when they will. It’s hard to fathom it’s been four years of varying states of limbo already, since the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) Sheep Siege began. Four years!

The most important realization is that things will happen, things will change. For better or worse, they will change with or without me. Isn’t it better to show up? I’ve felt monumentally supported at times, and at others, whipped myself with blame for being anxious and overwhelmed with the feeling that the CFIA has stolen my simple life. I’ve been self-critical for all the moments of bending to the black weight of their depressing ever presence. Bent, but not broken…pushed around, but not toppled.

So enough waiting. I’m getting back on the horse. This is my life, and this government invasion of it is not a detour, but my opportunity…OUR chance…to shout long and loud about some basic wrongs that need to be righted. I spent a few days at the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense conference (Food Freedom Fest in Staunton, VA) with a group of amazing American Food Freedom crusaders, fellow “AGtivists” who helped remind me why I care so much about making a change. I’m more aware than ever about just how many insane government policies are going unnoticed…Canadian and U.S. and worldwide. Who is going to ensure we have the right to make our own choices if we don’t? You’ve been there for me, and I’ll be there for you. Hold on, push on.

Now that the date has been set for the Preliminary Trial, the real work begins. (A Preliminary Trial is a hearing to determine if enough evidence exists to go forward with a full trial.)


I traveled to Switzerland earlier this month to honor Swiss heroes who helped rescue Resistance fighters and Holocaust victims, including my aunt, Inge Joseph, during World War II. She escaped to Switzerland, which was neutral, in October 1943, with important help from Swiss resisters, who worked secretly against official Swiss efforts to prevent Jews from entering the country. 


Wouldn’t you know I meet a modern-day Swiss food resister at the Holocaust commemorations, a determined man by the name of Frank Paillard (pictured here). My understanding is that he was arrested and fined about $1,000 for protesting a possible move by Monsanto from the U.S. to Switzerland to avoid taxes. 

Swiss portester Frank Paillard holds the sign objecting to Monsanto getting a free tax ride in Switzerland--the sign that got him arrested and fined.We had some language difficulties, but piecing together the signage he is holding (objecting to Monsanto seeking a free tax ride), legal papers he provided me, and news reports, it seems Monsanto earlier in the summer entertained the possibility of acquiring the Swiss ag corporation, Syngenta, and thereby moving its headquarters from St. Louis to Switzerland, where it would pay much less taxes. The news reports indicate the deal is off, for now. In the meantime, Paillard continues to be amazed he was arrested and fined in the first place, and has engaged a lawyer to appeal his fine.  And he serves as a reminder that the struggle over food rights is an international one.


Speaking of Monsanto, this evening (Tuesday) I join a group of researchers, farmers, and others questioning the safety of genetically modified (GMO) foods, at a seminar in Manchester, MA, “GMO: What Do You Know?”