Local dairy farmer Michael Schmidt finally had his day in court, and the ruling has allowed him to continue offering his raw milk co op.
From the Toronto Star –
In a surprise move, a Newmarket court ruled Thursday that dairy farmer Michael Schmidt can continue his raw milk cooperative and that his venture does not break laws against selling unpasteurized milk.
Government officials had little to say about the decision Thursday. But dairy experts say the ruling will spur more cow-share programs to form and encourage the underground co-ops already operating in Ontario to surface. And, they say, it will likely force the government to change its laws to allow the sale and distribution of raw milk.
Schmidt, who operates Glencolton Farms, has been offering raw milk products to the public via a cow share program. From the crown’s case against Mr. Schmidt –
Investigations reveal that Mr. Schmidt has developed a “cow share membership” scheme whereby he sells shares of cows to the public, so that he can subsequently supply them with milk. According to Mr. Schmidt, members pay a fee to care for the milk cows, cows which the cow share owners have purchased a share in (usually 1/4 of a cow for $300.00). he denies that he is actually selling milk or milk products. He suggests that the cow share owners bought a part of the cow, and are therefore drinking their own milk.
The crown case tells us that “In June of 2006, a complaint was received by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs from the York Regional Health Unit regarding the possible distribution of unpasteurized milk”. With nothing else quite as pressing on their hands, the Ministry set up a full scale sting operation, dedicated to doing an undercover investigation in the Schmidt’s cow share program, and the possible other raw milk products which the farm might be selling. There’s no word if the operation was nicknamed “Project Sour Milk”, but wouldn’t it be awesome if it was?
Once officers were finally able to obtain a cow share membership and purchase raw milk, charges were laid against Mr. Schmidt.
Thursday’s decision will allow him to continue to sell raw milk, and raw milk products, and hopefully it will also allow him to expand his cow share membership. I’m not a milk drinker, but I’d love to get my hands on some fresh, unpasteurized cream. I’ve heard you can make gorgeous creme fraiche with it.
Glencolton Farms is just another example of why I love living near Durham. We’ve got what is quite possibly Ontario’s most eclectic community here, complete with Symphony in the Barn, The Words Aloud Festival, The Fabulous Festival of Fringe Film, the Rocky River Cycling Festival, our local Art Gallery and more organic farms than you can shake a carrot at.
Here’s a short video about Glencoulton Farms, made by Markus Schmidt. Watch it, and you won’t find it difficult to believe that animals raised and kept with this much care and respect live healthier lives, and provide us with healthier milk, eggs and dairy products.
All this, and we’ve also got the mystery of the missing cemetery, too. More on that later.