Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund
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'Jail does not scare me': Dairy farmer


Article from cnews

NEWMARKET -- Defiant dairy farmer Michael Schmidt said he'd rather go to jail than stop providing raw milk to about 150 Ontario residents who own "cow-shares" on his Durham farm.

"Oh yeah, it's no problem," Schmidt said outside court yesterday. "The fact is jail does not scare me at all."

The Grey County farmer was representing himself yesterday on the first day of his contempt of court trial for allegedly violating a May 2007 court order. That order barred Schmidt, owner of Glencolton Farms, from selling or distributing unpasteurized milk in York Region.

Outside court, he said his farm still provides raw milk to clients, despite the order.

"They can get it Tuesdays and they can get it Fridays," Schmidt said. "Somebody from the farm is driving it on Tuesdays to Richmond Hill and Fridays (it's available) on the farm ... I never kept it secret, never ever."

Schmidt said anyone can buy a "cow-share" for $300, which lasts for the cow's nine-year lifespan. He argues that the people who get the milk already own the cow, so they aren't breaking the law because in Ontario it's legal for farmers to drink raw milk from their own cows.

The veteran dairy farmer, who said he's been providing unpasteurized milk for 35 years, is known for his trademark blue bus, which is driven every Tuesday to a church parking lot in Richmond Hill.

There, his customers can pick up their milk for $2.50 to $3 a litre.

Dan Kuzmyk, a lawyer for York Region, pointed to the listeriosis outbreak linked to raw-milk cheese in Quebec, which has killed one person, and said the region can't allow citizens to face the same risk.

"It's important to obey orders about things that constitute known health hazards," Kuzmyk said.

At least 50 of Schmidt's supporters showed up in court yesterday, packing the benches so tightly the proceedings had to be moved. His trial resumes today.

He also faces trial in January stemming from a police raid on his farm in 2006.

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