Some great news yesterday for Michael Schmidt, an Ontario raw milk dairy farmer who risked jail time challenging Canadian regulators. In a remarkable ruling, the court decided that his program by which customers by shares in cow ownership in exchange for the milk they produce is a legitimate enterprise not covered by existing law. In broader context, it seems an encouraging precedent for allowing consumers to opt out of restrictive safety regulations:
Although it is not illegal to consume raw milk in Canada, selling or distributing violates laws that require pasteurization of most commercial milk products.
The Schmidt case, which began when his farm was raided in 2006, has captivated food-rights academics and advocates in Canada, and around the world, who argue the court’s decision will ripple well beyond the raw-milk community. At its crux, they argue, the case is really about the extent to which consumers should be free to buy foods, however rarefied, and whether constitutional rights stretch as far as the grocery basket, farmer’s market and the people who own shares in – but do not live on – food-producing farms.