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Judge Shuts Down Raw Milk Co-op at Canadian Farm

Judge Shuts Down Raw Milk Co-op at Canadian Farm

An Ontario, Canada farm that distributed raw, unpasteurized milk through a co-op cow share scheme received a permanent injunction from a Newmarket, Ontario court on Friday.  The injunction was sought out by the province of Ontario, York Region, Peel Region and the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit in May.

The co-op, called Our Farm Our Food, involved 150 families who owned “shares” of dairy cows that were held at Glencolton Farm near the Durham region. The families would receive weekly deliveries of raw milk from the herd.

Following Justice P.W Sutherland’s ruling, Glencolton Farm can no longer produce raw milk and distribute the potentially dangerous beverage to their so-called share holders. Any further distribution and possibly even the consumption of the milk will result in the criminal prosecution of those involved. Employees and others who are informed about the order are not allowed to stop officers from inspecting anything related to milk and goat milk production as well as any equipment or milk products. The affected individuals are also prevented from obstructing municipal employees in carrying out any duties under the Health Protection Act.

Glencolton Farm owners Michael Schmidt and wife Elisa Vander Hout are well known raw milk advocates. Schmidt was recently arrested for obstructing a peace officer and was sentenced to 60 days in jail, time that he is allowed to serve on weekends only.

“I think it’s a disgrace,” said Vander Hout. “You try to do something good for the world, provide nourishing food responsibly. It’s not to have market share; we’re just having a little island here to nourish and we can’t.”

After catching the attention of the authorities for a second time, Schmidt has resigned from advocating the consumption of raw milk.

“I don’t have to fight for the right for raw milk for myself,” Schmidt said. “I have done that for 24 years… it’s up to other people. You can’t have people counting on you as the guy fighting for them. If you think it’s not right, you could go ahead and rock the boat.”

Raw milk is a health and safety concern in Canada and the US and is heavily regulated in these territories. Due to health concerns, the transport of raw milk between states in the US is illegal. The FDA refers to unpasteurized milk as a “serious health concern” because of its ability to harbour dangerous pathogens like E. Coli, Salmonella and Listeria. According to the CDC, unpasteurized milk is 150 times more likely to cause illness due to consumption and 13 times more likely to cause hospitalization than regular pasteurized milk.

Schmidt says that he will be putting his energy into a new project at the farm: building a concert hall.