Conductor is jailed in Canada over farming violation

The conductor Michael Schmidt, co-artistic director of Symphony in the Barn, has been jailed in Canada for 60 days his cmmitment to producing raw milk, in contravention of government regulations. He is known locally as the Raw Milk Hero.

His co-director Carol Gimbel writes to Slipped Disc:

‘At 6:00 pm Friday November 10, 2017 raw milk farmer, food rights advocate and social activist Michael Schmidt entered the Central North Correctional Centre, a maximum security prison in Penetanguishene, Ontario. It is both a remand facility and one where time is served for a range of minor offenses and serious crimes. For Michael, it was the first of a 60 day “rehabilitation and deterrence” sentence to be served on weekends.’

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    • Raw milk is indispensable for the production of many wonderful cheeses, just to begin with. It must be properly produced, and the milk and products made from it should be declared as such. The latter happens anyway because it is more costly to do and therefore a higher price is asked. So everybody who shares your reservations can avoid it easily. But it is entirely ridiculous to make it illegal and punish people for producing it. This isn’t Crystal Meth.

      • We have food and drug laws in the US (and I presume in Canada, also) because “Don’t buy it if you don’t want it” has turned out to be a poor mechanism for keeping dangerous ingredients out of the pipeline.

        You may imagine, “Oh, it’s just one thing to look out for,” but there’s a thousand more out there and it’s unrealistic to expect every consumer to be accurately knowledgeable of all of them.

        • American food & drug laws (as everywhere else) can be simply ridiculous. For example, Americans eat lots of prosciutto crudo imported from Italy but are not allowed to produce it (I know of a guy who found place with the perfect microclimate conditions near Chicago who had serious problems when he tried to start production).

        • Not only the US and Canada have food laws. The question is always, as it is with every other law, to who’s benefit they are written, something which is likely not even consistent within a single nation’s legislation. Here in Europe we are mostly spared things like a legal ban on raw milk products, but with our rampant meat, poultry, and egg scandals I would be really glad if hygene standards in our industry would be as good as in the US. But in this given instance I do not buy it that the ban on raw milk production and the criminalization of artisanal producers serves only, or at least mainly the purpose of protecting unsuspecting consumers at risk.

          • European food regulations are much tougher than North American regulations (indeed, tougher than anywhere else in the world). Leaving the EU means we don’t need to keep these regulations, and having free trade with the US means we can’t. Whether that is a good thing or not depends on whether you approve of the EU regulatory environment.

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