Raw Milk Has a Day in Court

Gordon Watson, one of the cowshare owners of Alice Jongerden

“Who owns your body? Tell me!”

“We do!”

“And who decides what you put in your body?”

“We do!”

“We never gave permission to the Government to tell us what to put in our body.”

German-Canadian farmer, Michael Schmidt, rallied with the enthusiastic crowd at a hearing last week in New Westminster on the legality of selling raw milk. His baritone voice could be heard even without his megaphone.

“We are in the forefront of a major battle, in a positive sense, to stand up for what seems to be lost. There was the Women’s Rights Movement, now there is the Food Rights Movement. We are demanding that we are responsible for our own bodies,” he said.

In court, speaking on behalf of farmer and operator Alice Jongerden, and her business, Home on the Range, John Watson addressed her Honor with this one statement: “We need our food and we need our medicine.”

The court proceedings last week left the approximate 30 present supporters subdued in comparison to this morning’s 9:00 AM outdoor court rally next to the New Westminster Supreme Court.

Jongerden, began by saying, “I am here today to not ask to seek adjournment,” to which the judge replied, “I thought you’re here today to seek adjournment.”

Alice politely asked to confer with Watson after which she replied, “I am here today not to seek injunction but to seek adjournment.” Things clearly did not start out well.

The court was brought to recess at 11:10 AM in order for the judge to conclude the raw milk case as either a statutory injunction based on Section 7 of the Public Health Act Transitional Regulations or adjournment, which calls for a delay in a decision. This postponement is to call for testimonials and for respondents to voice their rights of speech.

Then the court was dismissed at 11:45 AM where, after data collected from both parties (Guy McDonald, the Fraser Health Authority prosecuting attorney and Jongerden), left the judge acting in favour of the Public Health Authority lawyer. The suspended verdict at this point is that there is no use in granting an adjournment and the missing affidavits, if required, will be sought after.

The brand Home on the Range Farms represents 300 shareholders who own the cows which Jongerden tends.

The Fraser Health Authority deems raw milk a health hazard since Jongerden and her company packages and distribute it, despite FHA’s Public Health Act.

From observing families with children gathered at the hearing, it is evident that health issues are not of concern to those drinking unpasturized milk. Strong, healthy children stood firmly with posters in hopes of legally consuming raw milk.

Home on the Range has been operating for about three years and not one person has fallen ill.

At 11:45 AM today, her Honor granted Home on the Range permission to regroup. During which, the defense attorney asked for five minutes each for the 20 respondents to speak on behalf of Home on the Range in support of its existence.

While all drinking a glass of their fresh, raw milk, Jongerden and the gathered children exclaimed, “Michael [Schmidt] is correct in stating that this is more than just raw milk, this is the freedom to choose what we want to eat.”

This step forward towards freedom in choice of consumption has been paused but the spirit of the raw milk consumers continues to stand firm. The outcome of the trial for Home on the Range looks grim, however after the first hearing, one lady commented to the Vancouver Observer, saying that she is still hopeful for good results.

 

There are more raw milk farmers in the United States. See Megan Stewart's map.

Read Megan Stewart's story on this issue on CTV's website.

 

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