Legal Raw Milk Canada

$131,931 of $175,000 goal

Raised by 184 people in 15 months
Help us defend constitutional rights of raw milk consumers in Canada!

Raw milk consumers across Canada have spent decades peacefully trying to obtain raw milk from local farmers despite the threat of harassment from the authorities. Finally, some of us have stepped forward to tell the courts that our constitutional rights are being violated by laws restricting access to raw milk – a food that is perfectly legal to consume in Canada.

A January 2018 injunction against anyone “selling, delivering or distributing” raw milk in Ontario was the last straw, criminalizing peaceful citizens who want access to this safe, unprocessed food. So, with the encouragement of leaders from several cow-share communities in southwestern Ontario – we’ve mobilized!

We found a highly experienced lawyer to represent us on a partly pro bono basis, and his legal team has been building our case at lightning speed. In early February they served a Notice of Application against the Attorneys General of Ontario and Canada, on our behalf – 19 raw milk consumers and two raw milk producers, whose freedom of conscience or religion, and security of person, are being violated (under sections 2 and 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms).

All 21 of us applicants made this commitment despite financial risk, the ordeal of being cross-examined, and fear of the unknown consequences of taking on the Government. We did this not only based on our personal conviction, but on behalf of our raw milk communities and other consumers across Canada, who all stand to benefit from this constitutional challenge.

Please help us pay the legal bills: $100,000 during the next ten months. (Regardless of which side wins at the Ontario Superior Court, the decision could be appealed and ultimately the case may be decided by the Supreme Court of Canada. So next year, unless the case is settled, we will have to raise money for the next round.)

Does $100,000 seem like a lot of money to you? Well, it’s $100 each, from 1,000 people who want the right to consume raw milk without fear of prosecution. Your donation is an expression of solidarity with the 21 of us who put ourselves on the line for this cause.

Everyone has different financial circumstances, so we’re asking you to please give between $10 and $1,000, as you are able. We hope to show the broad base of support across Canada, and internationally too, for legal raw milk. Will you join in, with your donation?


Elisa Vander Hout of Glencolton Farm* and the other 20 applicants – Allyson, Amy, Beverley, Carol, Eleanor, Era, Eric, Frank, Jerry, John, Karen, Lanny, Liliana, Maria, Maria-Theresia, Mascha, Merle, Paul, Sanda, and Werner

* The farmers of Glencolton have been subject to decades of harassment and prosecution for following their conscience in providing raw milk from their herd of heritage-breed Canadiennes, to cow-share members who need it. Elisa Vander Hout is one of the two raw milk producers among the 21 applicants in this constitutional challenge; the other producer is Paul Noble of Elbonshady Farm.
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January 5 marks one year since an Ontario judge issued an injunction against selling or distributing raw milk. Let’s take a moment to reflect on the year. From the depths of those grim turbulent first weeks of the injunction, we found the resolve to regroup, re-strategize and reignite the fight for legal raw milk. A fateful set of seemingly chance events brought us to Ian Blue and his dedicated team at Gardiner Roberts.

They have helped 21 of us, on behalf of consumers of raw milk across Canada, launch a constitutional challenge against outdated laws. Those laws were supposed to protect unsuspecting consumers from unscrupulous dairy farmers, but these days they just stop informed and deeply intentional consumers getting whole unprocessed milk from conscientious farmers.

During the first year of the injunction, there were more devastating blows. Another judge refused to stay the injunction, leaving it in place while the constitutional case winds its way slowly through the system. Some of the cows at Glencolton went to slaughter, a last-ditch sacrifice to reduce herd size enough to preserve at least some of the genetics during this financial disaster for the farm.

And the court process drags on. As soon as we provided our expert evidence to opposing counsel, the pace of proceedings dropped off, an unsubtle strategy of the government’s lawyers to wear us down by slowing the process. We assumed our case would be heard last year, now we assume it will be heard this year. The milk marketing board (“Dairy Farmers of Ontario”) after losing its belated motion to intervene against us, has launched an appeal, which is scheduled to be heard next month.

One constant is the unequal access to resources. The establishment forces arrayed against us seem to have unlimited funding, and a mandate to implacably defend the status quo, regardless of the vast leaps in scientific understanding of microbiology and of the complex interactions between the human microbiome and processed vs. unprocessed foods.

Another constant is our perseverance: our unwavering commitment to pursuing justice under the constitution of Canada despite the mismatch of access to money. The gofundme campaign is all we have in financial resources, and it shows exactly where we are at. Every dollar that comes in to support the campaign, whether through individuals, Our Farm Our Food Co-op, herdshares or other groups, is recorded on this page. Every dollar of the original $100,000 target goes to pay our lawyers under our 2018 agreement.

Now in a new year, we have to raise the target by an additional $75,000. Of this amount, $47,500 is additional fees for our legal team, who already have provided pro bono services vastly in excess of the amounts we are paying them. Also, our expert witnesses need to have some costs covered in 2019, and we will need to buy transcripts of cross-examinations from the independent company that creates them, although we don’t know yet how many pages that will be. So $27,500 is a base budget for these costs.

It’s a lot of money. The government lawyers and agencies no doubt hope the financial strain will defeat us. Our own lawyers are obligated to double-check periodically that we want to continue.

Our simple answer is that we will never stop. We are resilient. Anyway, with every delay in our case, the scientific evidence just keeps getting better. In Canada there are not enough identified people consuming it, and no funders for such studies anyhow, but there are huge populations in Europe, and increasingly elsewhere, with legal access to raw milk.

So with every passing year, including the dark year of 2018, the dairy laws become more and more antiquated. And every year, more people are turning away from pasteurized dairy products. Change happens to all of us, including to the establishment forces. Welcome to 2019.
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Further to the previous update, regarding the milk marketing board (Dairy Farmers of Ontario)’s motion to join the constitutional case as a full intervenor against us, an adjudicator has denied their motion. The ruling found that it would be inappropriate for this organization to participate as an adversary, given that it may in future be responsible for overseeing the legal sale and distribution of raw milk in Ontario. The ruling is good news for us, as the participation of the marketing board would greatly increase the volume of evidence introduced, i.e, the length and cost of the proceedings. We are grateful to our legal team for representing our interests so diligently, and successfully!
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As noted earlier, we have been waiting since April for the government to file their responding evidence in our constitutional challenge – due in November. Now the DFO (Dairy Farmers of Ontario, formerly the Milk Marketing Board) is seeking to intervene. Although the DFO’s commercial interest is not relevant to the constitutional question of whether our Charter rights are being violated by the prohibition on accessing raw milk, we agreed to their participation on a “friend of the court” basis. The DFO rejected our offer and has embarked on a costly fight to gain full intervenor status. If they succeed, the DFO’s involvement will substantially increase administrative complexity (i.e., our costs) in the court process from this point forward, and likely the number of months it will take to conclude it. A judge will hear arguments on the DFO’s motion later this month.

As always, we acknowledge with gratitude the continuing stream of contributions from individuals and herdshare communities toward our legal costs. Our deeply committed legal team has already logged substantial pro bono hours on our behalf, and has been patient as we continue fundraising to pay their reduced fee.
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Our court case is still moving along but we are in waiting mode for a few more months, as a judge has given the government lawyers a November 30 deadline to file their responding evidence. There will be much more to report on after that. In the meantime, financial contributions are deeply appreciated – nothing has changed in the fundamentals of the case, and we are determined as ever to persevere. The slow pace is unfortunately just part of the process.
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$131,931 of $175,000 goal

Raised by 184 people in 15 months
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Kanwardeep Johar
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Members of Our Farm, Our Food Co-op
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herd share in South Western Ontario
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