Former Dump Site 41 ally sentenced in raw milk dispute
Flashback to August 2009: Durham dairy farmer Michael Schmidt is led away from Dump Site 41 after he had chained himself to Gate 1. He spent five days in jail refusing food and water. “The laws of the land are not always right,” he said upon release. “If someone is going to contaminate clean water, that is a crime in my opinion and we all have a duty to prevent it.” -AWARE Simcoe photo
Schmidt gets 60 days for obstruction
By Derek Lester Owen Sound Sun Times
Raw milk advocate Michael Schmidt has been sentenced to 60 days jail for obstruction of a peace officer.
Justice Ronald Minard delivered the sentence in a full courtroom in Walkerton Wednesday afternoon.
Schmidt, found guilty on Oct. 19, was charged along with four others in the aftermath of a raid on Glencolton Farm, northeast of Durham, on Oct. 2, 2015, by provincial officials gathering evidence for an investigation into raw milk production and processing. Charges against two of the others were dropped, a third was found not guilty, and the case of the fourth remains before the courts.
Schmidt has 30 days to pay a $100 victim surcharge. He will not be placed on probation after the sentence.
Schmidt asked the judge if he could serve his time on weekends to allow him to continue farming on weekdays, which was granted.
Schmidt is to serve his sentence on consecutive weekends. He must arrive to jail by 6 p.m. Fridays and will leave at 6 a.m. Mondays, which will total four days served. This is to start Friday.
The Crown had requested a minimum 30-day conditional sentence.
The Crown stated Schmidt has no criminal record, however, he owes money on previous fines.
Minard agreed that Schmidt being in his 60s and having no criminal record is an accomplishment, however, he does have a history with provincial courts dealing with non-pasteurized milk issues.
“In my view even though he is a first time offender there is an ongoing, underlying defiance of the law that has brought us here,” Minard said.
Minard said on Wednesday that the warrant to search his property was obtained and executed lawfully.
“This was an obstruction that went to the very heart of the warrant,” Minard said. “This is a very serious offence. The agents were there under judicial authorization.”
The raid on Glencolton farm turned into a standoff between officials and about 70 supporters of Schmidt who refused to allow equipment seized in the raid to be removed from the farm. Tractors were parked at entrances to the farm so that a cube van used by provincial officials to gather evidence couldn’t leave until officials agreed to leave the seized material behind.
On Oct. 19, Minard found Schmidt encouraged the protesters to stand their ground and refuse to allow the van to leave, which he said was the evidence of obstruction of a peace officer.
Much of the evidence against Schmidt was contained in videos made during the raid. Schmidt is seen and heard telling the lead investigator that nothing seized, or officials, would leave the farm until the seized material was returned. That, said the judge, was not disputed by Schmidt or any of the witnesses that he called.
The judge noted on Wednesday three principles played a role in his sentencing decision.
He said the rehabilitation principle is served so the accused won’t repeat the offence, the general deterrence principle sends a message of discouragement to the wider community to deter others from committing a similar offence and the personal deterrence principle makes the offender accountable and seriously discourages from engaging in the offence again.
“The sentence has to not only get the message home to Mr. Schmidt, but to members of the community,” Minard said. “In my view an issue of incarceration is called for.”
Minard added he had been thinking about the sentence for two weeks, and had thought about handing Schmidt a five-month sentence.