Michael Schmidt's Ontario Farm Hit By Raid in Connection with Scrapie Sheep Case

The view from Michael Schmidt's farmhouse of some of the government agents who raided his farm Thursday. A raiding party of twenty agents from three different agencies descended on Michael Schmidt's Ontario Farm  at 7 this morning with a simple message: he could be looking at 14 years in jail in connection with conspiracy charges associated with the scrapie sheep case from last April. 

The agents didn't actually have any kind of indictment or charges, just a search warrant that gave them authority to confiscate the four computers at his Glencolton Farm, and to copy all the information from all iPhones they could find. But the warrant indicated that the search was in connection with potential conspiracy charges for Schmidt's suspected involvement in the sheep case. The agents were from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), as well as provincial and local police, and they made sure to relay to Schmidt the penalty if he's found guilty of such conspiracy.

The agents also had authority to confiscate all electronic equipment, including the videos or other equipment of anyone who wanted to record the events. When Schmidt's wife, Alyssa, began to take photos, they confiscated her camera. A guest from Germany staying at Schmidt's farm had his iPhone confiscated when he began recording the search. 

"This was something new," Schmidt told me, about the confiscation of electronic equipment. He should know--he's probably had half a dozen or more raids at his farm since the first one in 1993, mostly in connection with raw milk sales. He has recorded videos of the searches in the past. "They are getting careful--too many pictures are getting out" of raids and enforcement actions. As a result, there are only a few still photos of what occurred during the seven hours the agents were at his farm. 

The agents raided the farm of Montana Jones as well, and were still there by late Thursday evening. She runs the Ontario farm whose sheep were targeted for destruction in April in connection with an investigation into scrapie among the sheep. She questioned the accuracy and authenticity of testing that showed one of her sheep had scrapie. Before the sheep could be confiscated, they mysteriously disappeared one night, and an organization, "Farmers Peace Corp.", took credit for their disappearance. 

Raiders also appeared at the Ontario farm where the sheep were finally found in late June.

According to Schmidt, "They are looking at me as the leader of the Farmers Peace Corps." 

The 31 sheep were thought to possibly harbor scrapie, a fatal degenerative disease that can spread among sheep and goats. When 28 sheep were found by Canadian authorities in late June  and slaughtered and tested, they were negative for scrapie. 

In a June video statement in which he compared the targeting and slaughter of the rare sheep to Nazi Germany's genetic engineering, Schmidt gently challenged Canadian authorities over their handling of the case. While denying direct involvement in the affair, he said, “I am aware that I as a consequence to my public statement might be subject to an investigation and possible charges related to the sad sheep saga. I am determined to support the brave work of those who have risked their personal safety and security to try to protect those sheep with the hope that ‘conclusive evidence’ would have been provided by the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) in order to return the sheep for orderly slaughter if found infected or for further testing…Whatever will evolve I am honored to be a part of this brave action, as I have taken on the role as liaison for the Farmers Peace Corp.” 

By 3 p.m., the agents had departed. "We are back to milking the cows," said Schmidt. 

Schmidt's two sons, 3 and 5, probably enjoyed the events more than anyone. "They were all excited when they saw all the police."

Schmidt was calm. "I had proposed a dialog to find an alternative to killing off the rare sheep breeds," he said. "This is their response."

Until Thursday, Schmidt had been totally preoccupied with the devastating drought ravaging mid-North America. His farm's pastures have been dried out, and hay is very difficult to obtain because it is in such high demand.

the word 'war' has been used by those in the thick of this Campaign for REAL MILK, so , "in war, sometimes the best recognizance you can get, is getting shot at".
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is made up of the same kind of soft bureaucratic apparatchiks who dumped our milk, here in BC, back in 2009 = like Health Inspector Rod Asplin, with a "little man" complex, who have the smirk playing on their face, when they're accompanied by an RCMP officer, with a loaded sidearm on their hip ... But wait til you get those chumps under cross-examination ... they go to pieces in a real court of law
My old man used to say "if you don't have a lawsuit on the go at all times, you're not trying hard enough"

I guess we all need to install cameras that direct feed onto the internet instead of relying on hand held devices. I hope the pics/video come back and can get posted. Even while this didn't seem to be overly aggressive (material things were taken, no animals, no arrests) it is still scary to think of it happening anywhere.

Tracy

mark mcafee's picture

There is something wrong with the brain of any judge that would sign a warrant authorizing the seizure of private cell phones. That seizure is the seizure of truth!

Next step should be a hearing demanding the return of private cell phones and damages

David Gumpert's picture

No, I think the judge (and the agents who made the request) was thinking very clearly.  This is obviously a new tactic to reduce media exposure of their enforcement actions. We should expect to see it in the U.S. as well, since the American and Canadian ag agents work hand in hand. It should definitely be challenged in court--would make an important case. In the meantime, Americans should plan for similar tactic. If a friend arrives while a raid is going on with his/her own camera, can the authorities seize that as well, even though it's not a part of the premises being searched? Raises all kinds of intriguing Qs.

I'm so sorry that Michael Schmidt was raided again. This is very scary. I certainly hope that the breadth of a search warrant that allows the seizure of electronic equipment not related to the investigation at hand (not to mention the personal property of people not being investigated) is challenged. What a gross violation of civil rights.

mark mcafee's picture

Shana,

I agree with you 100%. When the video taping of police activities is against the law...there is something innately wrong. We should all be able to see the police activities and that transparency should vindicate their activities. If there is no clear appreciation for what they are doing....

Why is it that police do not want pictures taken of what they are doing. It is because what they are doing is not popular and what they are doing is criminal....criminal with an official badge and a gun.

I love dash cams in patrol cars. Everything should be able to be viewed by all. They work for us.

Secrecy and confiscation of private cameras should be a crminal activity...

That is fascist and Nazi. Simple as that.

the fact that they seized cameras of the search unfolding, is extremely insulting to sensibilities of British Justice. An Accused is entitled to start preparing his defence, the minute he becomes aware he's in jeopardy of being charged : especially, gathering evidence. For the purpose of exercising one's right to make full answer in defence, those images / the recordings of every kind about what went on in the moment are not much different than the notes a peace officer might take at the scene of an investigation ... available to Accused and perhaps crucial to exercising his right to defend himself. Seizure of those note-taking devices was obstruction of Justice. ... whoever authorized that aspect, screwed-up bigtime
Members of the Cult of the Black Robe just love stuff like this = they'll talk about it for years. "Your case cries out for Justice, sonny. How much Justice can you afford?"

Maybe things are different in Canada, but in America things wind their way through the court system at an agonizingly slow pace. You may go into the "system" as a young person, but by the time things get in front of a judge you'll get the best lawyer social security can buy.

mark mcafee's picture

Yesterday I exchanged emails with a CA conventional dairyman that has been a bogger and activist for fair dairy milk prices ( he is a rare one in deed ).

He said the following: Whisky is for drinking and milk is for fighting!...

He also said that there is a schizophrenia in the American Dairy Industry saying: Dairymen want the government out of their back pockets....but their damn well better be a subsidy check in their front pocket by Friday.

Deborah - Pacifica's picture

For those of you that have an iPad, there is a nifty App (for Free) available to download called "Know Your Rights". It is a quick way to know exactly what to do when confronted by "authorities". Very useful and....did I mention...it is Free!!

The actions of the police in Canada with regard to phones and videotaping in the raid on Glencoulton Farm reveal the sinister aspects of the recently passed "Federal Crime Bill."
The police no longer need to go before a judge to get a warrant to access/or seize phone, internet or email traffic, information or phone call and use data. The smoke screen around this intrusive legislation is exemplified by the conservative party's rhetoric or should we call it propaganda. "This legislation will enable the law enforcement community to catch pedophiles, so anyone against this legislation supports pedophiles." In Canada we no longer have any court protected expectation of privacy in the use of our phones or computers or cameras.