We are sending this important Alert to all members. The incident has widespread implications, not only for the raw milk movement but for the basic right to farm, and the outcome could affect America and other nations as well as Canada.
BACKGROUNDOn Tuesday, November 21, Glencolton Farms in Durham, Ontario, Canada was raided by agents of the Ministry of Natural Resources, the enforcement arm of the Ministry of Health. The proprietor of Glencolton Farms, Michael Schmidt, has operated a cow-share program without incident for the past eleven years. (For background, visit realmilk.com/real-milk-canada.html.)
On the morning of November 21, Michael loaded up the vehicle that carries his goods into Toronto-the famous Blue Bus that arrives at the Toronto Waldorf School every Tuesday. There, the shareholders line up to receive the products of their cows. But as Michael drove out of the laneway, the bus was surrounded by a swarm of armed Ministry of Natural Resources officers approaching from all sides. They presented Michael with a search warrant and, for the next seven and a half hours, the investigators searched, questioned and confiscated.
The six individuals who live and/or work on the Farm were ordered to stay in the kitchen. Visits to other areas of the house or outdoors had to be conducted accompanied by an officer. Two investigators from the Ministry of Finance also arrived and spent several hours in the office, eventually leaving with one computer hard drive, its monitor and keyboard, back-up CDs and boxes of paper files.
The investigating officers were very polite, respectful and, somewhatsurprised, it seemed, at the farm crew’s friendliness and cooperation. Michael and his son Markus filmed much of their activities. Every bottle of milk, cultured milk, quark, cream and sour cream, along with fresh cheese, that had been put on the bus was confiscated . . . and then dumped into a local landfill site in the contaminated substances area! The farm’s cheese-making and other dairy equipment was completely dismantled and carted off.
On Thursday, two days after the raid, Michael Schmidt publicly vowed to continue distributing raw milk products and announced that he had begun a hunger strike to back his demand that the provincial government stop interfering with the business. Schmidt, 51, told the gathering of press, supporters and interested individuals, held at his family farm northeast of Durham, that he will live on one glass of milk a day until his milk processing equipment is returned. He also wants the province to compensate the 150 families he supplies with raw milk products for their loss when their food was seized. He’s also demanding the province’s assurance that it will not interfere in his unpasteurized milk operation until or unless the matter is resolved in court or in the provincial legislature.
“Eleven and a half years ago, when I asked (the government) for co-operation in researching the raw milk issue and they turned me down, I said I would go ahead alone and if (they) interfered again with legal action I would go on a hunger strike . . . I’m simply following up on what I had promised at that time,” he said.
According to Schmidt, the government has been fabricating stories that link milk products from his farm to two cases of sick children last summer. He said that it was common knowledge that they had become sick from eating tainted hamburger meat. The family was unknown to Schmidt, were not members of his cow share program and did not consume his unpasteurized milk.
Bill Murdoch, Member of the Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound in Ontario where Glencolton is located, has expressed outrage at the strong-armed tactics used against the Schmidt farm. He plans to introduce a private member’s resolution on December 7, calling for an all-party task force to look into the issues surrounding legalized sale of unpasteurized milk.
Thus, while the actions taken against Schmidt were inexcusable, this situation actually presents a golden opportunity for positive change in Canada, even perhaps legislation to legalize the direct sale of raw milk.
For updates and further details, visit glencoltonfarms.com.
ACTION TO TAKE
Please take some time this weekend to write letters of outrage and protest. We ask all members, but especially Canadian members, to contact the individuals listed below. (You may also wish to contact federal Members of Parliament and the Toronto City Council posted at the links.) We have provided all the contact information that we have at this time.
Canadian members should write a letter and fax it as well as send it through the post as this carries much more weight than an email. US members should send emails, or have any Canadian friends or relatives send your letter for you from a Canadian address or fax.
Please stress the following points:
A. Ask for the immediate return of Michael Schmidt’s property and compensation for the cow share holders so that this folk hero may end his hunger strike
B. This is an issue of freedom of choice and the right to farm.
C. The Canadian constitution ensures the right of conscience and religion.
D. Describe how the consumption of raw milk has helped you and your family.
E. Remind them that good science shows that raw milk is safe.
F. Finally, urge them to end the harassment of small farmers and to take action to legalize the provision of raw milk through direct sales or cow-share programs.
Thank you for your help!
Sally Fallon, President
The Weston A. Price Foundation
1. Hon David Ramsay
Minister of Natural Resources,
(Note: it was armed agents of the Ministry of Natural Resources that
raided the farm so much pressure needs to be put on this individual)
6630 – 99 Wellesley St. W.
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1W3
Tel : 416-314-2301; 705-647-5995
Toll Free: 1-888-701-1105
FAX 416 314 2216 and 705-647-1976
dramsay.mpp (at) liberal.ola.org
2. Honourable Leona Dombrowsky
Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
77 Grenville St 11th Floor Toronto, Ontario M5S 1B3
ldombrowsky.mpp (at) liberal.ola.org
3. Minister of Health Promotion, Jim Watson –
jwatson.mpp (at) liberal.ola.org
4. Hon. George Smitherman
Minister of Health and Long Term Care
10th Floor Hepburn block
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2C4
Queen’s Park Office (416) 327-4300
Or at his Constituency Office (416) 972-7683
gsmitherman.mpp (at) liberal.ola.org
5. Hon. Greg Sorbara (a consumer, along with his family, of raw milk)
Minister of Finance
7th floor Frost Building South
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1Z1
gsorbara.mpp (at) liberal.ola.org
6. Bill Murdoch, MPP, Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound
(the riding in which Glencolton Farms and supportive)
Member, Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills
Critic, Rural Affairs Tel : 519-371-2421
Rm 451, Main Legislative Building
Toronto ON M7A 1A8
Tel : 416-325-6242
Fax : 416-325-6248; 519-371-0953
Toll Free : 1-800-461-2664
email : bill.murdochco (at) pc.ola.org
Constituency office: 1047 2nd Avenue East, Owen Sound On N4K 2HB
7. Hon Dalton McGuinty
Premier of Ontario
Rm 281, Main Legislative Building
Toronto ON M7A 1A4
Tel : 416-325-1941
FAX 416-325-3745; 613-736-7374
8. Commissioner Dave Hope
Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission
5th Floor One Stone Road West Guelph, Ontario N1G 4Y2
ONTARIO MEMBERS OF PROVINCIAL PARLIAMENT
MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT (Federal)
MEMBERS OF TORONTO CITY COUNCIL