Raw Milk Farmer Released After Overnight Jail Time for Removing Surveillance
Durham, Ontario—October 20, 2015 West Grey Police detained raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt on October 19, 2015 and held him overnight when he reported for booking on theft charges.
The Canadian government is pressing criminal theft charges against the Ontario farmer for allegedly removing surveillance cameras spying on visitors and other activity at his farm. Schmidt claims neighbors and friends removed the cameras in August. Several weeks after Schmidt called police to report discovery of the devices and ask who they belonged to he was charged with theft of the devices for refusing to turn them over to the police.*
The cameras, which had no identification on them, apparently belonged to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) and were put there to spy on Glencolton Farms.
A summons was issued September 30, 2015 for Schmidt to appear for fingerprinting and a mug shot on October 19, 2015 at 7 pm.
Conflict with the Ontario authorities is nothing new to Schmidt, who has been producing raw milk privately for over 21 years for members of a food club.
In 2004, after experiencing multiple raids against the farm to prove what Schmidt openly admitted—that he was providing raw milk to people who wanted it—the Ontario government charged him with violating provincial prohibitions on raw milk sales. Acquitted of those charges in 2010, Schmidt continued to provide his community with raw milk. The Ontario government appealed the acquittal, forcing Schmidt to sell the farm to his food club members and return to the farm as a hired manager.
Around the end of September, Schmidt was raided twice in one week by the MNRF and York Regional Health Unit. During the second raid, there was a standoff when owners of the farm showed up and blocked agents from removing the farm equipment and products.
“I am convinced that these charges about the cameras are some sort of revenge,” Schmidt says. “After the investigator and the agents had to leave the farm without the equipment they seized on the October 2, 2015 raid, they want something to show for it. They don’t like the fact that I continue to peacefully feed my community. They are now using the judicial system to prolong their harassment of a peaceful farmer.”
According to Sally Fallon Morell, president of the nutrition education nonprofit, The Weston A. Price Foundation,
When carefully produced for human consumption, raw milk is a wholesome, healthy food. Many families use raw milk to heal from health conditions that baffle medical science and to help children who are failing to thrive.
“We will continue to peacefully procure the foods of our choice from the farmers of our choice”, says Marta Bak, a co-owner of Glencolton Farms.
This food comes from our farm. We are now in the mode of total non-compliance to government harassment. We will peacefully resist in defense of our food–whatever it will take to demonstrate our inherent right to choose the food we wish to consume.
Schmidt was released in the early morning hours of October 20, 2015.
The farm will continue to grow and produce food as it has for the last 33 years.
The Canadian Constitution Foundation is raising legal defense funds for Michael Schmidt and farmer Montana Jones on Indiegogo, https://www.indiegogo.com/
The Weston A. Price Foundation is a Washington, DC-based nutrition education 501(c)(3) with the mission of disseminating science-based information on diet and health. WAPF publishes a quarterly journal for its 14,000 members, supports 600 local chapters worldwide and hosts a yearly international conference. The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the Weston A. Price Foundation.
*According to one report, Schmidt says that he was not officially charged. And there was a peaceful protest. See The Bovine.