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News

Raw milk campaigners celebrate small victory

Unpasteurized. Farmer charged with contempt of court

Canwest News Service
Friday, August 01, 2008

TORONTO - Raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt won a brief reprieve from his legal troubles yesterday, when a judge pushed his court date back six weeks to early September.

Schmidt was in court charged with contempt on allegations he had breached a court order requiring him to stop his unpasteurized milk operations.

Since 1994, Schmidt has operated a "cow-share" system, which allows clients to purchase a cow, pay for its upkeep and then collect raw milk and other raw milk dairy products.

The Ministry of Natural Resources has charged Schmidt with violating the Health Protection and Promotion Act by selling and distributing raw milk. That case is slated to go to trial in January 2009.

The contempt charges stem from a court order, which York Region Public Health obtained last year from a Superior Court, requiring Schmidt to cease his operations.

Yesterday, Justice Michael Brown said that since "fundamental facts were in dispute," the case would require more than the one-hour time slot allotted to yesterday's motions court proceedings, in order for both sides to present evidence, call witnesses and cross examine. He rescheduled the case for Sept. 10-12, when a trial judge will preside.

The decision sent approving rumbles through the full court room, where more than 50 cow-share owners, including a smattering of kids, had shown up to support Schmidt.

A number of them wore buttons that showed the bus used to deliver the milk, emblazoned with the words "Raw Milk," and the slogan, "Right to Choose."

© The Gazette (Montreal) 2008