Natural foods advocates are claiming a victory today after a court ruling cleared a dairy farmer of a string of charges he faced because of the raw milk he sold to members of a cow-sharing consortium.

According to natural foods blogger Kimberly Hartke, Michael Schmidt was found not guilty in a verdict that took a judge more than two hours to read.

The judge “found that Michael had done his due diligence, developed a proper contract, and that everyone was informed,” Hartke reported. “The judge went on to say that Michael met a need for the people.”

The case against the Ontario, Canada, dairy farmer hearkens back to similar disputes in the U.S. over the same issue.

WND previously reported when Mennonite farmer Mark Nolt of Maryland had his farm raided by SWAT-type agents and was fined more than $4,000 and had his equipment confiscated for providing raw – or unpasteurized – milk to participants in his program.

In the Ontario case, the ruling from the Newmarket justice of the peace found the cow-sharing operation Schmidt runs out of his Durham farm does not violate milk-marketing and public-health regulations.

The ruling concluded a three-year war over his business and means his milk legally can be distributed to consumers who have purchased “cow shares” in exchange for access to the milk.

Drinking raw milk in Canada is not banned, but other laws require pasteurization on most commercial milk products. According to a report in the Globe and Mail, 10 U.S. states – including California, Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and New Mexico – allow licensed farmers to sell raw milk with a warning label at grocery stores.

In other states, like Canadian provinces with tighter restrictions, consumers often participate in a “cow-sharing” or some other arrangement to gain access to such products.

Advocates say it is healthier. Hartke reports Kevin Trudeau touts raw milk in his New York Times best-seller “Natural Cures They Don’t Want You to Know About,” and Sally Fallon Morell’s cookbook, “Nourishing Traditions,” recommends it and has sold 350,000 copies.

“Her work as a nutrition educator is based on the pioneering research of a dentist in the 1930s. Weston A. Price traveled the world, studying primitive tribes and their nutrition to try and uncover the mystery of modern degenerative disease. His research discovered the vital importance of animal fats in the human diet, and specifically, that raw milk and cheese were a significant source of nutrients for many cultures,” she has reported.

Government agencies tasked with making sure health products are safe say the use of raw milk sets off alarms because of the possibility unpasteurized products carry harmful pathogens such as listeria.

Health agencies, then, have tried to clamp down on distributions of raw milk.

According to a report at HealthZone, the ruling from Justice of the Peace Paul Kowarsky cleared Schmidt of 19 counts.

“After leaving court, Schmidt smiled, accepted a glass of raw milk from one of his supporters and took a big gulp of his farm-fresh product,” the report said.

Hartke also has written about the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund which was set up in the U.S. in 2007 to protect the rights of farmers and consumers to engage in commerce directly.

According to reports published by the Weston A. Price Foundation, results of a study by the Medical Research Council in the United Kingdom revealed only 1 percent of the subjects in an ongoing lifestyle study of 5,000 men suffered heart attacks – if they drank full-fat milk and ate butter rather than margarine.

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