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Dairy farmer rejects deal in raw-milk court case


August 8, 2008

Article from The Globe and Mail

Renegade dairy farmer Michael Schmidt said yesterday that local officials offered to drop court proceedings against him if he would only move his raw-milk distribution site out of their jurisdiction and into the city of Toronto.

Mr. Schmidt said in an interview that the offer was made on July 31 by York Region lawyer Daniel Kuzmyk. On that day, Mr. Schmidt was in court in Newmarket for a hearing on a contempt-of-court charge for failing to obey a directive from York's medical officer of health not to distribute raw milk.

York Region spokesman Patrick Casey said that it would be inappropriate to comment on anything that happened at the July hearing, and that the region is preparing for a three-day trial on the contempt charges to begin Sept. 10.

Mr. Schmidt has championed the rights of customers to purchase raw milk, even though the law requires pasteurization of milk sold to the public. He said he decided to reject the offer, not only as a matter of principle, but because he would just end up fighting the Toronto Board of Health if he moved his operation south.

"A minute before the judge came in, I said: I'm not interested in that deal. Then he [Mr. Kuzmyk] turned around and said: 'You'll get smoked, you'll get smoked, there will be nothing left. Eventually we'll get you.'

"The interesting thing is that they have got the court order on the basis that there is a health hazard for York Region and that they are very concerned about the health of the people. At the same time, they say, as long as you get out of our area, we don't give a shit any more. That was for me, a real eye-opener [on] how they work."

Mr. Schmidt, who tries to get around the law by selling interests in cows and giving the milk to the owners, is due to go to trial next January on provincial charges after his Grey County farm was raided in 2006.

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