Raw milk defenders go to Ontario’s Superior Court with funds raised online
A Go Fund Me campaign is almost half-way towards a $175,000 fund-raising goal to finance the court defense of the constitutional rights of raw milk consumers in Canada.
The online funding raising campaign has raised $80,011 with its most recent contribution coming from a South Western Ontario herd share agreement, which kicked in $2,212.
Elise Vander Hout of Glencolton Farm and 20 others are pressing Ontario Superior Court to find that a constitutional right exists in Canada to consume raw milk. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, that any ruling by the Ontario Superior Court will be appealed by one side or the other to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Vander Hout brought the latest action in response to the January 2018 injunction against anyone in Ontario from “selling, delivering, or distributing” raw milk.
Ontario’s raw milk producers see the injunction as “criminalizing peaceful citizens who want access to this safe, unprocessed food.” Southwest Ontario producers who sell through cow-share agreements mobilized after the injunction and the court action is the result.
“We found a highly experienced lawyer to represent us on a partly pro bono basis, and his legal team has been building our case at lightning speed,” Vander Hout says on her U Fund Me pitch. “In early February they served a Notice of Application against the Attorney General of Ontario and Canada, on our behalf–19 raw milk consumers and two raw milk producers, whose freedom of conscience or religion, and security of person are being violated (under sections 2 and 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms).
It says all 21applicants made the commitment “despite financial risk, the ordeal of being cross-examined on our personal conviction, but on behalf of our raw milk communities and other consumers across Canada, who all stand to benefit from this constitutional challenge. ”
In the next ten months, the raw milk defenders expect their legal bills will be $100,000, and they fully anticipate it will end up in the Supreme Court of Canada unless the government settles before then.
Among the “Friend of the Court” filings in the Ontario Superior Court case is a 33-page document from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. The author is John Sheehan, FDA’s expert on the safety of dairy products.
“The U.S. FDA encourages everyone charged with protecting the public health to prevent the sale of raw milk to consumers and not permit the operation of so-called cow-sharing or other schemes designed as attempts at circumventing laws prohibiting sales of raw milk to consumers,” Sheehan wrote to the Ontario court. “To do otherwise would be to take a giant step backward with public health protection.”
The science and public health community in Canada are making similar testimonies.
David Gumpert, the author of the Raw Milk Answer Book, depicted Sheehan’s statements as”laughable” and pointed to the fact that the states “pretty much ignore” FDA policy.
“If the governments all-hands on-deck reaction is any indication, there is a serious concern among the bureaucrats and the dairy cartel that controls dairy production and distribution in Canada that Schmidt and company meant business,” Gumpert wrote.
It was Ontario farmer Michael Schmidt resistance to raw milk regulation that led to the permanent injunction.
In the U.S., about one dozen states, including California, permit full-scale retail sales of raw milk. The other states ban retail sales but permit either limited on-the-farm sales or sales under herdshare agreements. Several others permit herdshare agreements to function under the state’s official radar.
Federal law probits the interstate transportation of raw milk for human consumption. New Jersey is the only state where raw milk cannot be legally obtained by any method.
GoFundMe is a for-profit crowdfunding platform that allows people to raise money online.
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