Raw milkman Michael Schmidt refuses fines—and embraces jail time

Raw milkman Michael Schmidt refuses fines—and embraces jail time

After he professed a willingness to die to see the sale of raw milk legalized, it should come as no surprise that food freedom crusader Michael Schmidt is prepared to go to prison for his cause. Schmidt was in court in Newmarket last week for sentencing on convictions related to the sale of unpasteurized milk. The judge—who seemed entirely sympathetic to the cause—handed down a relatively gentle fine, but Schmidt, ever the hard-liner, refused to accept it.

The Globe and Mail reports:

Raw-milk crusader Michael Schmidt was handed a $9,150 fine and one year of probation Friday on convictions related to selling and distributing unpasteurized milk.

In an interview after the sentence was handed down in a packed Newmarket, Ont., courtroom, Mr. Schmidt said he would not be paying the fine. “I’d rather go to prison than pay the fine and that’s a matter of principle,” he said. “If I pay the fine, then this is almost like an admittance of guilt.”

An appeal will be filed within the next 30 days, he said.

We can’t say we have high hopes for this appeal, since Justice Peter Tetley basically agreed with Schmidt and still overturned his earlier acquittals. Tetley told the courtroom that there are many people, even in his own family, who drink the stuff, and that “the present legislation is inconsistent, at best.” And while Tetley acknowledged that “there’s a lot to admire about Mr. Schmidt,” he said it wasn’t a judge’s place to challenge the law.

Schmidt, however, wasn’t having it. “Sorry to draw the line, but since the Nuremberg trials, ‘doing my job’ is not a justifiable defence anymore for doing something not right,” he said in an interview after the sentencing. The former farmer’s continued defiance is entirely unsurprising by this point, though he claims he couldn’t pay the fine if he wanted to. “I don’t own anything,” he said. “I’m basically on the grace of other people.” (This may explain why defence lawyer Karen Selick argued for a $10 fine.) Worse, this sentence isn’t even the end of Schmidt’s legal battles: he faces contempt of court charges in Vancouver next week in connection with a cow share in Chilliwack, B.C.

Raw milk farmer sentenced to fine and probation [Toronto Star]
Ontario farmer fined $9,150 for raw milk [National Post]
Ontario raw-milk advocate fined $9,150, given year probation [The Globe and Mail]