Battle between government and farmers
McGuinty Government raids farm that provides Greg Sorbara’s raw milk
Saturday, November 25, 2006
The Dalton McGuinty-led Liberal Government, warming up for election mode have real problems with the Ontario Landowners Association (OLA): Turns out they’re as good as detectives as they are as activists.
The story of Glencolton Farms could replace Old MacDonald Had A Farm in rural folklore. This tale could easily be called The Farmer & The Toff.
Although the story began over 11 years ago, on November 21, it reached its climax when Glencolton Farms was raided as part of an 18-month investigation. Farm fresh milk seemed to be the provocation on the part of the government.
In an ironic turn of events, the OLA has learned that the Honourable Minister of Finance Greg Sorbara and his family drink raw milk and consume unpasteurized cheese and butter from the farm from Glencolton Farm. Sobara’s family is, and has been shareholders in this cooperative venture since 1992.
“The question that needs to be asked at the cabinet table is: Will The Honorable Leona Dumbrowsky (Minister of Agriculture) request the Honourable David Ramsey (Minister of Natural Resources) to send armed officers to investigate Mr. Sorbara’s activities and is Greg Sorbara aiding and abetting an unlawful activity?” asks Glencolton Farm owner Michael Schmidt. “Or will they throw a protective shield of darkness and secrecy over the cabinet table, in their efforts to create their Liberal homogenized society?”
Members of OLA are fighting to save their livelihoods—“one farm at a time.”
According to Schmidt, the raid on his farm was “not connected to this farm and not connected to farm fresh milk, the details of which were suspected but never proven.”
The battle between the government and farmers/landowners has been going on for a long time.
OLA members say that the government and its bureaucrats are now “fabricating stories in order to justify their actions against free and sovereign individuals.” (OLA press release, Nov. 23, 2006).
The government doesn’t have to worry overly much about farmers—not as long as their vote comes from towns and big cities.
But city slickers on the government payroll don’t get much respect from the OLA.
Schmidt’s fate is the same as so many more before him.
“In 1994, I was charged and found guilty for exactly the same offences, that is, providing a service to our customers with products that they wanted.
“I was placed under probation for two years, meaning that I was not to produce and process any milk. During that time, I offered the Government this farm as a research facility for the production of fresh farm milk,” he recalled.
In 1995, Schmidt wrote letters to his government representatives of the day, Elmer Buchanan, Minister of Agriculture and Food and Ruth Grier, Minister of Health. Schmidt also brought the Ontario Milk Marketing Board into the loop. “I notified all of them of my intention to continue the service of providing people with farm fresh milk from their own cows,” Schmidt said.
In March 1995 the Toronto Star, Kitchener Waterloo Record and the Owen Sound Sun Times, along with many Farm papers, carried the story of Schmidt’s attempts to work together with the Government.
“When there was no response, I announced that I would conduct my research independently and made it clear at that time that, if the farm were subjected to any more raids and interference, I would go on a hunger strike,” said Schmidt.
Some 11 years later, that’s precisely what he’s doing. “As of now, I will begin the hunger strike until all of the equipment, documents and other items removed from this farm have been returned. The Government has to agree to be financially liable for the personal property of cow shareowners. As well, they need to agree in writing that the farm is to be left alone, so that it can carry on its service to the 150 families, until and unless all of the issues have been dealt with in court or in the Legislative Assembly or House of Parliament.”
For 11 long years, the government ignored the day-to-day operations of Glencolton Farms.
“They all decided to leave me alone,” says Schmidt. “They had two choices at that time: to arrest me because I broke the probation or to leave me alone and let me continue. The fact that they left me alone, in my opinion, legalized this farm’s activities, and made the Government liable for their actions. A lawsuit from our side will follow, if necessary.”
Schmidt reminds the government “I’m not arguing the fact that raw milk is better; I know it is better; it is the cow owners’ choice to drink their milk. This fight is not about me; it’s not about the farm; it’s about the freedom of informed choice for every individual in Ontario.”
This is a David and Goliath fight of mammoth proportions, posing farmers who Schmidt and colleagues say, “care with our heart for the land and the people, with the government regulating and controlling the farmer and consumer with bureaucrats and raw power.”
A working man who believes that “everyone should have the right to own a cow and drink the milk that nourished our parents, our grandparents, our grandparents and us”, isn’t likely to drop his principles any time soon.
Sorbara isn’t the only one enjoying his raw milk.
“The Queen of England has just turned down a submission to ban raw milk in England,” says Schmidt. Her Majesty is drinking milk from her own cows. And here at home, The Honourable Greg Sorbara is eating his curds and whey.
Meanwhile, perhaps the Nanny Days of Dalton and Company are nearing a sunset. It’s election year, and those darned landowners are as good at the fine art of gumshoeing as they are at being activists.