Defend Co-operative Dairying in BC

Tomorrow, Tuesday September 14th, 2010 there will be a hearing at the Court building in New Westminster against our local cowshare Home on the Range, please join us if you can. The address is 651 Carnarvon Street, between 6th and 8th Street, adjacent to Douglas College. Parking is hard to find in that neighbourhood in the morning. The Court building is about half a mile from each of the Columbia or New Westminster SkyTrain stations – a 15 minute walk.

The following is from Alice Jongerden our agister:

The biggest and most important thing we need is to have as many people at the courthouse as possible. So come…bring your friends, email your contacts, put it on facebook…tell everyone to be there at 8:55 AM. Court starts at 10am.

ALSO–We need signs! Some suggestions:
My cow, My farmer, My property, My rights!
Own a cow….Hire a farmer

When asked “What do you do with your milk” or “Do you drink your milk” etc…. possible responses:

  • It is labelled not for human consumption
  • What I do with my property is up to me
  • It’s my cow, my farmer, my property
  • It is no one’s concern what I do with my property
  • If I chose to eat dog food, would I be breaking a law?

You get the idea. Please be polite. We would like to make this a peaceful demonstration.

The following is a description of cowsharing as well as information on our local cowshare Home on The Range and what Health Canada is doing to try to shut it down. The following was written by Gordon S Watson from www.freewebs.com/bovinity. His website includes lots of very good information on raw milk and cowshare programs as well as information on health and healing with medicinal raw milk:

REAL MILK has been flowing from our cowshare since May 2007. Our dairy has 22 Jersey cows producing about 60 gallons a day, making fresh whole unprocessed milk available to 450 households from Chilliwack to Vancouver.

Cowsharing is where several people own shares in a cow, or a herd, and hire a farmer to do the work. Our private dairy is not caught by the law against selling raw milk because the milk does not enter into commerce. As we divide what our jointly-owned asset produces, we are exercising our right to use and enjoy our personal property.

Each shareholder makes an agreement with the Agister* for her services of looking after our cows and making ready the milk. Shareholders are not contracted with each other.

*Agister is an antique word meaning ‘one who takes care of cattle for a fee’ ; for instance, the boarding of horses is “agistment”. Alice Jongerden, doing business as Home on the Range does the work for us as we farm co-operatively for our own sustenance. For current prices of fees for service, see her website www.homeontherangefarms.com

Joint ownership of a herd is working to provide raw milk in British Columbia and other provinces in Canada. There are nine raw milk dairies in British Columbia operating on a similar basis, that I know of. One of them – Wild Thing Organics – is in Christina Lake. Have a look at their website for a good explanation of how cow-sharing works.

We are not ‘certified organic’. As much as possible, the cows are grass-fed, with no antibiotics; no rBGH; no soy meal nor ‘animal byproducts’ i.e. offal, in the feed. The cows are given a small ration of grain at milking time, as inducement to come into the milking parlour.

While researching the law in order to prepare my appeals, I read the Milk Industry Act RSBC of British Columbia, as it stood from 1955 until 1996. Turns out the original Act had sections under which a farm could be certified to sell raw milk to the Public. In his Royal Commission in to the marketing of milk in 1955 Commissioner J. V. Clyne touched on the controversy over the health aspects of raw milk versus par-boiled, also known as “Pasteur-ized”. He recommended that all milk which was offered for sale be pasteurized. But he said that there must always be a way for those who want unpasteurized milk to get it. Twice I’ve asked the Milk Marketing Board for the protocol to apply for such Certification. They just blew me off, saying, essentially, they didn’t comprehend what I was talking about.

After ten years’ lobbying on this issue, the success of Home on the Range, plus the other local dairies throughout BC, I am confident that we have passed the tipping-point of public understanding about the health benefits of raw milk. The decision in the case of Michael Schmidt – rendered on January 21 2010 – acquitted him of “selling” raw milk via his cow-share. The government of Ontario has appealed that ruling.

The latest development was Fraser Health Authority applying for an injunction to prevent our Agister from distributing our milk. At the hearing, February 1st 2010 in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Madame Justice Gropper listened to both sides, then reserved her decision. The fact that Fraser Health did not put any evidence before the Court demonstrating that milk from our dairy is a hazard to the Public Health, proves our point. Raw milk dairying can be done safely.

On March 18th 2010, the judge handed down her ruling. An Order was made against Alice Jongerden of Home on the Range, to Cease and Desist distributing raw milk for human consumption. Our packages always said “NOT FOR SALE”. Since the Order, we changed the package so as to make clear to shareholders that the milk is NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION. Thus complying perfectly with the Milk Industry Act RSBC and Her Ladyship’s Order.

Whole fresh pure raw milk continues to flow to its owners who then use and enjoy their own property in whatever ways, they believe best.

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