British Columbia

B.C. farm defies court ruling on raw milk

Members of a cow-sharing collective in B.C.'s Fraser Valley say they will continue distributing raw milk despite a court ruling.

Members of a cow-sharing collective in B.C.'s Fraser Valley say they will continue distributing raw milk, despite a court ruling.

The Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled the Home on The Range co-op in Chilliwack is "willfully causing a health hazard" by supplying its members with unpasteurized milk. 

The collective was formed to get around a B.C. law prohibiting the sale of raw milk.

The 400 members own shares in 21 cows and pay the operator, Alice Jongerdon, to take care of them.

"The key point is that it's not in commerce. It's not for sale, it's never for sale," said co-op member Gordon Watson.

"Therefore we got around the idea in the Milk Industry Act [that] if milk is for sale in British Columbia, then the government has oversight over it.  And so we just went ahead and took our property home and we paid Alice to look after the cows for us."

However, the provincial government wants to stop the distribution, saying it's against the law and dangerous.

"[We have seen] many, many, many, many, many cases of diseases ranging from tuberculosis to Streptococcal poisoning to E. coli, et cetera, associated with the consumption of raw milk," said provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall.

But despite the risks of raw milk, Watson thinks the benefits are far greater. He said the pasteurization process kills vital enzymes in the milk.

Watson said he expects the court will order Jongerdon to stop distributing the milk. If that happens, Watson said he will take over distribution himself.