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Monday
Feb072011

+ Update On Raw Milk Warrior

RAW MILK WARRIOR
Michael Schmidt fights for the right "to eat what we want"


Michael Schmidt talked with us during a regional biodynmamic conference in January. He told us about his raw milk campaign and shared the recently released documentary about his work entitled "Milk War."

Michael Schmidt’s grandfather was part of the Agriculture course with Rudolf Steiner in 1924, his family fled their ancestral biodynamic farm in Germany in the middle of the night from occupying Russian troops at the end of World War II, and he has fought tirelessly for the rights of farmers and consumers in Ontario for the better part of a generation.

In November 2006, Michael Schmidt’s farm in Durham, two hours north of Toronto, was raided by over 20 armed officers. They weren’t looking for drugs or guns.

They were looking for milk.

Michael’s crime: Selling and distributing raw milk.

Schmidt, a graduate of the Waldorf school in Stuttgart, has seen his share of trouble with the government over his fight for consumer freedom. He saw his farm threatened and his livelihood disintegrate as a result of the first “Milk War” in the 1990s.  He had to sell 500 of the 600 acres of his family farm to pay his legal bills. The toll on his family was immense, but he built his business back up by parterning his customers with his cows (he actually “sold” each teat for $300) in a cow-sharing program. His customers owned the cows and he took care of them. However, it was still illegal in Canada to sell or distribute raw milk to consumers.

Michael Schmidt’s opposition to the raw milk ban put him on a collision course with the Ontario government, and has set off a public debate that touched upon a whole host of issues: the immense power of Canada’s $12-billion dairy industry and the challenges facing small, independent farmers; the increasingly controversial nature of large-scale factory farming methods; and a growing public unease about the way most of our food products are processed before they reach us.

After the raid in 2006, government pressure continued and after $80,000 in legal bills, Schmidt decided to represent himself in court in the second “Milk War.” In his own words, his goal had always been to be “a happy farmer.” The most recent court judgment acquitted him of any crimes and allows him to continue his farm’s raw milk sales in Ontario.

Despite a government appeal to try to overturn the judgment, Michael and his supporters remain confident that their freedom to drink raw milk will not only be supported in Ontario, but will spread to the rest of Canada. A group of highly respected constitutional lawyers has taken up Michael’s case in the appeal, leaving him free from fighting the legal battle against the appeal himself.



Michael, whose son Markus is helping with the cows on their farm in Durham, is busy travelling across Canada and the US to support the many initiatives and farmers who are trying to enshrine their right to drink raw milk in a vast array of proposals that are coming before legislative bodies this year. Many of these farmers remain under constant threat from the government and the dairy industry. Schmidt insists that this fight is about more than just milk; it is about the fundamental right “to eat what we want.”

In September 2010, a film about Michael Schmidt’s courageous battle premiered in Toronto. “Milk War” was co-produced for the ichannel by Stornoway Productions and The Path to Gimli and features an award-winning production staff.

“The Bovine” is a great place to start for more information about Michael Schmidt’s campaign to guarantee the right to drink raw milk.

 

UPDATE November 8 2011

Michael Schmidt
Ends his hunger strike after 37 days and 50 pounds


Canadian raw-milk biodynamic dairy farmer and Waldorf graduate Michael Schmidt has called off his 5-week hunger strike, after having had the chance on Nov. 4 to meet with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.
 
michaelschmidt1-240inside.jpg
Schmidt had vowed to "go until death" if the premier didn't agree to meet with him in person to discuss raw-milk issues and what he describes as "responsible food freedom."
 
Raw milk is milk that hasn't been pasteurized to kill harmful pathogens that might be in the milk. Under Canadian law, it is illegal to sell raw milk, although it is not illegal to drink it.
Read the rest of this update at Waldorf Today.

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Reader Comments (1)

Why doesn't it surprise me that he is a Waldorf grad? I have been following the raw milk issue and I am really impressed by Michael Schmidt's perserverence and attitude. I am so happy that my son is in Waldorf school.

February 7, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermichael

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