By JIM ALGIE
Raw milk advocate Michael Schmidt expects to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada about a recent Ontario Court of Appeal ruling against him in a long-standing, high-profile, legal battle over Ontario public health regulations.
Schmidt confirmed in an interview by phone, Monday, he’ll pursue the appeal. He declined, however, to discuss details until a planned, late-April announcement.
The appeal deadline is May 11, Schmidt said. He expects to file legal papers before the deadline and plans a formal announcement later this month, likely, April 28 or 29. Meanwhile, the veteran Grey County dairy farmer is among nine scheduled speakers for an international symposium on raw milk science, April 22, at the University of Guelph’s Aboretum Centre.
Organized by the university’s Food Science Department, the full-day event also features scientists and food safety experts from Canada, the United States, Belgium and New Zealand, says a university website announcement. It’s the first such event involving Schmidt for a university-level debate about the science and health policy issues of raw milk.
Schmidt is to appear as part of an afternoon panel discussion that also includes University of Guelph marketing professor Sylvain Charlebois and University of Vermont nutritionist, Dr. Catherine Donnelly, who is also a director of the Vermont Institute for Artisanal Cheese. Other notable speakers include Belgian government food chain analyst Wendie Claeys and New Zealand Centre for Public Health Risk director Dr. Jeroen Douwes. Significantly, Douwes is also principal investigator in recent studies at New Zealand’s Massey University into protective effects of raw milk on allergies and asthma.
Since 1994, Schmidt has waged a campaign against Ontario regulations that outlaw distribution of raw milk because of potential health risks from bacteria. He believes raw milk can be produced safely and has health benefits for consumers.
A three-judge panel of the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled against Schmidt earlier this year. In a unanimous decision the appeal court upheld the April 2012 conviction by Justice Peter Tetley which came with a $9,150 fine for illegally distributing raw milk.
The conviction followed a Crown appeal from Schmidt’s earlier acquittal by an Ontario justice of the peace on more than a dozen, raw milk-related charges.
Schmidt has operated an organic dairy farm in Grey County near Durham for 30 years. BF