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UPDATE: 

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A Durham Ontario Canada resident, Michael Schmidt, is still under bail conditions for apparently being an accomplice to conspiracy in this sheep ordeal.

Today Schmidt is going in for finger prints for a charge that simply doesn’t fit the ‘crime.’ The Ministry of Natural Resources had set up surveillance cameras on public property without any labeling on the cameras or permission of residents. These cameras were found in the ditches around their home.

Neighbours of Schmidt had taken it upon themselves to take down the cameras to find out who they belonged to and why they were there. They found over 80,000 images on SD cards of citizens jogging, walking dogs, and moving through day-to-day life. They called the police to find out whose cameras they were but were unsatisfied when police refused to disclose their ownership, instead demanding the cameras be handed over.

Schmidt refused and cited infractions against transparency, justice, and his own privacy as his main reasons for not giving up the details of the camera’s whereabouts. Now, he is being charged with theft under $5k for not sitting by while government bodies make their way our private lives without our knowledge. Schmidt is a social activist like we (the Collective team) haven’t seen in a long time. His ongoing struggle with the government has been a 21 year battle and his raw milk farm has been raided over 5 times. He has been detained, thrown in jail, and even placed in solitary confinement, where he refused to eat on principal.

According to Schmidt, he was not in jail of his own free will and the state does not have rights over his body, so he refused to eat.  He went on another hunger strike more recently when trying to get a simple dialogue going with the Premiere of Ontario about the circumstances of his operations of his farm.

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So, he’s going in for fingerprints for one incident but there is a possibility he may not come out because of another issue. Support Michael Schmidt, because he’s basically taking the fall for all of us in a much bigger way.

Original Story:

  • Rare Shropshire Sheep are ordered to be killed against shepherd’s consent by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency due to a falsely suspected disease
  • Shepherd now faces up to 12 years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees
  • Launches fundraising project to raise money for legal fees and charges

Farmer and shepherd Montana Jones has had a rough couple of years. Since 2010, she’s been fighting a downward battle with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Before all of this, she was living a simple life as a farmer and blogger in a rural part of Ontario, Canada.

“Along with other heritage breed livestock, I raise Heritage Shropshire sheep, a breed that is on the Rare Breeds Canada Endangered livestock list. The British genetics in my Wholearth flock had pedigrees dating back to the early 1900’s when the first British stock was imported here,” Jones wrote in one of her blog entries.

It was clearly her passion and life’s work, breeding the beautiful sheep to keep the endangered species alive and strong, with there being only a small amount of the animals alive today. Her life changed for the worst in 2010, however, when the CFIA swooped down on her little heritage farmstead and declared that an ewe that she had sold many years prior (to a livestock hauler and farmer in Alberta) had tested positive for a sheep disease called Scrapie. There had only been 10 cases in all of Canada the year before. And it is worth mentioning that the disease poses no risk to human health.

The Scrapie infected sheep did not have the traceability I.D. ear tag that was there when Jones sold it — apparently the owner “didn’t have it” — but CFIA were told it was originally her sheep. The CFIA agreed it was quite possible that it had been infected in the time since it had left Jones’s farm:

Scrapie is easy to spot, and my flock NEVER had a single sign or symptom. The CFIA went ahead and conducted live tests that have an 88% accuracy rate in detecting the disease. The ‘dead’ test on obex brain tissue has only slightly higher accuracy. As I predicted…all tests came back negative. But that wasn’t good enough. The CFIA issued an order to kill them anyway.

 

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Jones goes on to explain how she tried her hardest to find alternatives to the dire situation:

I offered many other risk free alternatives and suggested we work together to find out if indeed any illness had ever been in the flock. “Kill first ask questions later” is not the best option to conserve a rare breed. The CFIA did not even respond to my proposal. The CFIA wouldn’t listen to over 5,000 petitioners on Change.org either. The CFIA is not pleased that I made their unjust actions public knowledge.

I am horrified at the degree of harm a government agency can do with an incredible amount of money and a superfluous number of relatively incompetent employees. Who was I to suggest that our government re-examine their protocols regarding agricultural biodiversity?
I was advised to roll over, let the CFIA kill my healthy sheep, take their compensation money and move on. Other commercial sheep producers did…why shouldn’t I?

The situation didn’t get any better for Jones. Without mercy, the CFIA ordered Jones to dig a large hole to bury her sheep:

They demanded I hire an excavator and have a deep grave dug, and said they would kill them before my eyes and leave me to bury them all. A 15-foot pit was dug at the top of my hill overlooking the farm…the hill they grazed peacefully for so many years.

Then the CFIA told me they changed plans, and decided to load my sheep for a stressful 5 hour transport to a killing facility at a pet food plant near Ottawa, and that I would have to pay the bill.

There were many calls, emails and messages from outraged people saying they’d take, hide or move the sheep to protect them. The CFIA arrived early April 2 to kill the flock, but the sheep were gone, with only a note left. Months later they were discovered on a distant farm, and the CFIA killed them and their newborns. All of the the tests came back negative.

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Jones admits her quality of life has been destroyed by the CFIA:

My farm is still in quarantine, CFIA has effectively halted my farm income and ensured that each day revolves around them, and defending my right to live peacefully. They have attacked, stripped bare, twisted up and torn down. It’s non-sensical: am I that much of a threat? I was just quietly living and farming with a few animals, growing vegetables, selling at local farmers market…well, I was. Not now.

The CFIA continued to issue press releases announcing the high risk to the nation and “dangerous” nature of the missing sheep situation. The CFIA claimed they understood what a severe impact their procedures had on “affected” producers (implying that my destroyed flock they killed had indeed been infected with “disease” they weren’t) …and how difficult it must be and announced publicly that they properly compensate producers for their losses. Simply not true.

Armed with search warrants, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency investigators and Ontario Provincial Police raided my home, Michael Schmidt’s and two others on August 2nd, 2012.

The CFIA charged myself and raw milk activist farmer Michael Schmidt and 2 others with numerous criminal offences including conspiracy, for allegedly trying to save Canada’s heritage sheep and preserve our country’s agricultural biodiversity.

The domino effect of the CFIA’s invasion meant selling off my heritage turkey breeding stock because I had no way to feed them. My beautiful pastured Tamworth pigs too, and two white Percheron mares. My farm truck died last fall. Then my car followed suit in December.

If convicted, Jones faces up to 12 years in jail and up to $1.5 million dollars in charges and fees. She has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money to support her cause.

More people need to know what our government is doing with the power we have vested in them, on the pretence of protecting us. I refuse to believe that the gross misuse of power wielded by this government body might go unnoticed.

First, I need to ensure the farm will not be lost. Then, to raise funds for legal defense against the CFIA’s charges, and to raise awareness about how their policies are affecting all of us, and work to get them changed.

Jones says she has managed to stay strong through the support of so many people who have been following her story since the initial raid in 2010:

The encouragement of all those who have been following this story has been a huge support to me. It constantly reminds me that we are all in this together:no matter how different our personal suffering or challenges. This is not the worst thing that ever happened to anybody, but it IS happening, and it needs to stop.

With your help, we’ll breathe life back into this farm once again.

Montana Jones has already managed to raise $95,000 dollars with the help of so many caring souls. Help spread the awareness of Jones’s story and support her GoFundMe campaign today!!

Montana Jones: ‘Farmed & Dangerous’


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