Questions about raw milk? Ask a farmer
Mark Lopez of Wholesome Dairy Farms
Raw-milk fans are getting a raw deal
The Globe and Mail
Queen Elizabeth drinks her milk raw. She reportedly thinks so highly of unpasteurized milk that, when her grandsons Princes William and Harry were students at Eton, she instructed herdsman Adrian Tomlinson to bottle up raw milk from her Windsor herd and deliver it to them at school.
Canadians, however, are not permitted to emulate their head of state. Raw milk cannot legally be sold in Canada, except into government-authorized “supply management” cartels, where it goes to be pasteurized. Only those who happen to own their own cow can legally consume raw milk.
A group of some 450 B.C. city-dwellers thought they had a solution. They organized Home on the Range Dairy, and jointly acquired a herd of 25 cows. They hired farmer Alice Jongerden to look after their cows – feed them, milk them, bottle the milk and make it available to its owners.
This type of livestock boarding contract has long been known to English law. In fact, there’s even a special name for it: agistment, the taking in of livestock to graze on your land in exchange for payment. Ms. Jongerden is called an agister.
But the Fraser Health Authority disapproved of the arrangement and took Ms. Jongerden to court. The real question, which no B.C. court has yet tackled, is whether she can be considered to be “selling” or “supplying” raw milk in contravention of the Milk Industry Act, when the individuals who receive it are already its owners.
Nevertheless, the B.C. Supreme Court issued an injunction this past March prohibiting Ms. Jongerden and others from “packaging and/or distributing raw milk and/or raw milk products for human consumption.” But the cows took no notice of the Supreme Court and continued to fill their udders twice a day. They had to be milked or they would soon be bellowing in pain, risking udder infections and possibly dying.
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