If you’re old enough to remember “The Lone Ranger”, you know he roamed America’s Wild West righting wrongs, sometimes firing silver bullets to make his points, and then riding off into the sunset with a hearty “Hi Yo Silver”.
Canada may have its version of The Lone Ranger in Michael Schmidt–the Bovine reported Friday that he is about to ride into the western province of British Columbia in an attempt to save the Home on the Range dairy from assault by its own government.
The provincial regulators in British Columbia have been attempting to shut down a herdshare serving about 450 owners run by dairy farmer Alice Jongerden, who owns the Home on the Range dairy. Based on a provincial regulation implemented last year that labels raw milk a “hazardous product,” they convinced a judge to order her to discontinue milk production–to actually discontinue milking the cows–and hold her in contempt of court if she continued, which could have meant being thrown into jail. “The court had her against a wall,” Schmidt told me yesterday.
He arranged with Jongerden to legally assume control of the herdshare last Thursday. “I took over the business operations. Everything is under my management,” including the six employees. “I am coordinating all distribution of the product.”
His rationale: “Let’s take the target away from her and let them deal with me.”
Dealing with Michael Schmidt means dealing with a man who for the last 17 years has been fighting the Ontario provincial government’s efforts to force him out of the raw dairy business. Earlier this year, he beat the province at its own game, serving as his own lawyer to convince a judge to find him innocent of violating Ontario’s strict dairy laws by making raw milk available to his herdshare owners.
He’d like to try to work things out with provincial authorities so that the Home on the Range herdshare can continue operations. “My interest is to meet with the health department and discuss the dilemma we are facing. I’d like to lay all the cards on the table.”
If he can’t work out some kind of agreement with the authorities, then he wants to see a court trial of the sort he went through in Ontario last year, rather than enforcement of an arbitrary regulation declaring raw milk a hazardous product.
Schmidt says that his takeover of the Home on the Range dairy potentially turns the whole matter into a federal issue rather than a provincial issue. For example, British Columbia authorities could be put into a position of trying to extradite Schmidt from Ontario to face the legal music in the West.
He points out that Jongerden was convicted without the benefit of a full trial, like he had. British Columbia authorities have taken the route taken by many American agricultural and public health authorities: picking out one farm to set as an example, a warning to others to avoid making raw milk available. “They want to pick out one, make an example, and if they don’t get that one, go on to the next one.”
Schmidt hopes to stop the planned assaults in their tracks. Based on his exoneration in Ontario earlier this year, “There is no way we can go backwards.”
If negotiations don’t work, says Schmidt, “I want to see how they deal with me in court.” Watch out, British Columbia. The Canadian Lone Ranger has arrived. ?
The discussions of the sort following my previous post–about using the simple sense of smell as a safety screening device to identify possibly contaminated milk as described by Miguel and Steve Smith, and the approach of public health invetigators as described by Milky Way–are fascinating because they imply that safety is a realistic management issue. It’s too bad we keep get drawn back to the basic issue of whether we can access raw milk via the sort of shenanigans going on in Canada.
One thing seems clear: demand for raw milk continues unabated. Tennessee created a small opening for herdshare arrangements within its overall prohibition of raw milk, and lots of people are walking through it.
This war is over legal issues, not food rights, my friends. Food rights might be your motivating influence, but ultimately every event, every battle, every case, ends up before the courts whose sole purpose is to pass judgement based on the law. Wake up and smell the cow dung, before you fall in it.
From the last post:
I really see a conflict when you know and consult each other but others on this blog cannot be certain of MW's qualifications and training. Sylvia, Gwen, Dave M. and myself all work in the public health field and have been quite transparent about what we do.
If MW is too scared to reveal her/his credentials and what she/he does for fear of retribution from her/his employer, that alone speaks volumes.
The playing field should be level. We all have something at stake.
But you don't need a laboratory and years of lab experience to start lacto-fermenting your own milk and gaining a vocabulary and understanding of how clabbered milk should taste, vs. how it tastes when it is contaminated. Having been a cheesemonger for a number of years, I have developed a fairly sensitive palate and vocabulary for flavors and aromas.
Ultimately, I think that organoleptic (aka sensory) quality control is as important to food safety as any sort of lab test. Contamination of the milk will manifest itself readily in the lacto-fermented milk.
I should not have said lab tests are "highly subjective" — that is perhaps an exageration. They are subjective estimates.
I had not realized that only miguel and other select anonymous posters were allowed on the blog. I will take my thoughts elsewhere.
You make an excellent point. From my viewpoint, your complaint relates more to the issue of blog identity and propriety. Any number of bloggers here use pseudonyms. In nearly all cases, I don't know their identities, and as I've said a few times, I respect their right to post anonymously. Yes, I have my suspicions as to who some of the anonymous posters are, as do others here. But I never try to dig into the data to figure out from email addresses and such who they might be, nor do I quiz blog readers I may from time to time correspond with. I say all this to indicate I didn't know for sure who Milky Way was until I put two-and-two together following the comment you refer to.
I'm sorry Milky Way chose in an anonymous comment to refer to a correspondence we had had…and in the process created a situation where I now know identity info other bloggers don't know. It's put me in an awkward position. However, I think it's up to Milky Way to decide whether to reveal his/her identity now or at some point in the future…or not at all. I will tell you that the individual, from all I can tell, has highly credible public health credentials. I hope you'll understand.
if two witnesses = from the (then) Minister of Agriculture and the (then) Director of Food Safety under the Minister of Health, won't do, then it's not about logic … there is no other explanation but that 'the fix is in'
see also my formal response, at page 124618 of my website, which gives the context of what's going on in BC.
Gordon S Watson
Justice Critic & Parliamentary Agent for the
Party of Citizens Who Have Decided To Think For Ourselves & Be Our Own Politicians
I am not being anonymous when I use the name miguel,everyone that knows me knows me as miguel and they wouldn't know who I was if I used a different name. I USE a first name ,middle initial,last name in the world of commerce when someone needs to have access to information associated with that name in order to access an account.That name is the property of the state,so it is not my name.
I don't care what your legal name is because we are not engaged in commerce.I am interested in understanding the point of view of someone with public health credentials.I hope we can continue to discuss the value of lab tests in raw milk safety and other similar topics.
Also, I've been thinking about Michael taking over the operation. Is Home on the Range not a legal person registered in B.C. with the governement? Well, then it matters not who owns it or where they live. "Extradite"? come now… the "person" lives in B.C.
There's no need to talk with the authorities about anything. And no need to change any law. You folks can do what you want to do without any repercussions – you just have to do it in the right way. The fact that milk drop-off points that were private residences were not raided by Fraser Health should have clued you in…
That link to the Guelph site on milk grading was exactly what i was looking for. Thanks.
Reading it reminded me of judge training for the American Homebrew Association competition that i read about many years ago. The Guelph site should go a long way toward training the judges needed for the Raw Milk tasting competition at the next International Raw Milk Symposium (i'm hoping).
This is University studied data and research?
What does Bill Marler and CP think of this…..if raw milk is a cure or preventative food for cancer….does the risk of drinking delicious safe raw milk out-weigh dead.
as for the validity of the agreement between Alice Jongerden and one who holds an interest in the herd of cows … at no time in 3 years did any govt. agency come at us pursuant to the Milk Industry Act. Health Authorities used the pretext that our milk was a hazard to the public health… while they were well-aware that the case of Western Forest Products and Sechelt regional district, defined such a hazard as 'requiring clear and present evidence'. Fraser Health Authority backed off when faced with that
the Milk Industry act says that having a package marked "not for sale' categorically excludes it from falling under that Act. Precisely as our jars have been labelled from June 2008, on. What part of "not for sale' do you not comprehend, Gord? You remind me of another miscreant, "Walter's dad" who trolls the bovine.wordpress site,, kvetching away as though he knows some law, when he hasn't got two clues to rub together … have you actually SEEN our agreement? Nowhere does the agister SELL raw milk: she's contracting for services, and renders HSTax to BC accordingly
Michael Schmidt has taken over as agister from Home on the Range, thus, he, personally is the one responsible. Alice Jongerden is out of the operation, aside from holding shares in the herd for her own family.
Michael Schmidt resides in Ontario, he carries on the business of agistment services, in British Columbia, under the name "Our cows"
come on out to BC Gord Welch aka Walter's Dad, and watch the expression on the judge's face when he or she has to admit that "agistment" is a normal business practice in New Zealand, where raw milk is perfectly legal under the Food Act RSNZ. thus, part of the heritage of the Caucasian people, per section 26 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
You believe you are not selling raw milk, just like the FTCLDF purports and advises, but you are selling milk, in a jurisdiction where it is illegal to sell. The Home on the Range contract is based on milk and money as the transaction.
Blah, blah, blah… I don't know what I'm talking about, I suppose… and you only are getting madder and madder… or perhaps you'd like to just ignore me – that's what most do. I just thought you might like to know what's really going on.
Have I actually SEEN your contract? Sure, Gordon. I used to be a party to the contract. I have a copy of it in my file.
Bush jr went to Yale and Harvard…highly credible schools and the outcome demonstrated was severely lacking.
Markthese are all pathogens that could end up in raw milk. Read the stories. One person is dead. http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/the-real-reason-that-fsis-needs-to-re-think-what-is-an-adulterant—the-suffering-caused-by-non-o157/
I agree with Steve and Miguel too. Please come back, Milky Way! This blog needs you.
When people flame on this blog, they are ranting against a system that arbitrarily curtails freedom, and/or their rules, not to you in particular. They don't know you. They don't understand how remarkable it is that you are here in the first place, and what a fascinating discussion it has been for most of us.
How can we learn anything if we only talk to people who agree with us?
Thank you, MW for your informative posts!
Just for the record, Billy Goat Dairy investigation is almost complete; on RMAC's end and the Health Department's end. The Health Dept concluded that the common link was raw milk.
They cultured e. coli 0157:H7 in manure samples picked up off the ground, and Campy in a shareholder's milk, but not from milk samples taken from the farm. Of course, the PFGE analysis was indistinguishable between manure, milk and human stool samples, and again, they use the word "match".
I must say, the Boulder County Health Department was very helpful and professional, sharing what they learned.
There were myriad conditions during this outbreak that took a long time to sort out. It would be so helpful if farmers could summon a support team of their peers with notebooks, cameras, someone collecting business cards and taking notes while the health department, the state vet, TV & news reporters swarm their farm for weeks. Take notes and names, document who what when where why.
That's all I want to say about that now. We should be done next week, I hope.
A lobbyist told me last week to be respectful when you stand up to debate an "opponent" on an issue. You could be on the same side some day. Local food is something everyone will support, in the near future.
p.s. Thanks to Sylvia for all her informative posts, too! Mark sent me a copy of his RAMP document. It was refreshing to read "A HACCP plan for a living food where active immunity is the kill step." Brilliant!
That didn't happen in over 3 years of our cowshare operation.
so read the contract again, closely, Mr Welch. It's between an individual and Alice Jongeren, only. It does NOT include anyone else. She was the hub in a wheel of 450 individual contractors for SERVICES, not milk.
Go read section 33 of the federal Income Tax Act RSC. The test for involvment in an agricultural investment is 'both risk and reward' … each shareholder in our dairy herd sydicate assumed the loss of an animal, thus was a farmer …..
what's really going on is that we are asserting our right to use and enjoy our property … which is the antidote for communism.
Read 'And not a shot is fired' to find out what's really going on with the raw milk thing
too bad you didn't have the nerve to tell the bureaucrats to "get stuffed", Mr Welch, no REAL MILK for you. I picked up my property this afternoon
There's lots of other folks here I'm curious about also. Particularly Miguel, who always impresses me with his leading-edge microbiology discussion. He hasn't revealed much about himself, other than that he has dairy cows, has a daughter with a PhD in plant genetics, and seemingly an extensive knowledge of microbiology. Why hasn't anyone pressured him to reveal his credentials?
I don't comment here much, but I have been an avid reader of this blog since it was initiated. If anyone cares, I'm just a Nebraska widow interested in nutrition, a WAPF member, and a raw milk drinker since 2001 (plus some earlier years when I lived in Arizona).
Notice that the providers of the foods which, ostensibly, made the people so sick, are still open for business = Dole and Wendy's. Yet opponents want to shut down all artisanal dairies merely on the possibility that similar pathogens are found in raw milk, ocassionally?
when we see some actuarial tables – some real science – we can then make decisions, properly informed.
Ironically, Mr Marler is now raising chickens to get eggs for his kitchen table, after the massive recall of eggs. Not that he WON'T come around … just that he's slow to come around to our position of taking responsibility for one's own health
I obtain my raw milk legally, and without any government encumbrances.
I do wish you the best of luck, Gordon…