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Drinking a glass of raw milk from a cow you own might become a criminal act in Ontario – and Canada — because of a court case in that province.
A prosecutor has asked a court for an injunction banning the sale of unpasteurized milk by farmer Michael Schmidt and a co-op, Food Safety News reported. At issue is a cow-sharing program whereby citizens can own cows and then have the raw milk distributed between members.
“The application seeks an injunction order to stop the illegal activities of the involved parties and to ensure the health protection of the community,” an email from the York Region government states.
‘We Don’t Have Cows in Our Backyards’
A group of raw milk supporters protested outside the courthouse in Newmarket, Ontario, when the court heard the application earlier this week.
Health officials and prosecutors claim Schmidt and others violated a law called the Milk Act by selling and distributing raw milk. Canada already is the only major industrialized nation where raw milk sales are totally banned, Food Safety News reported. An injunction would clarify that the law applies also to cow-sharing.
Raw milk supporters are afraid a court ruling in favor of the government would lead to a precedent that other Canadian provinces would follow.
“The issue is: how do we access the raw milk?” raw milk fan Sibernie James-Bosch told The Era. “We can’t have cows in our backyards in suburbia or Aurora, Bradford, Newmarket, we just can’t, but we want it for our health and there’s a lot of different reasons why people want it as well.”
James-Bosch, Schmidt and others tried to get around Canadian law through cooperatives.
“But the government is preventing the farmers from supplying it,” James-Bosch said. “So, we decided that we want to have cow shares [in a shareholder arrangement] and this is the crux of the matter that has been going back and forth in court all the time: Are the cow shares legal, are they not legal? But at the bottom of it all is: who decides what we eat and drink?”
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