Michael Ilgert is known for producing and distributing raw milk
By Diego Flammini
A Renfrew County dairy farmer known for advocating for the distribution and consumption of unpasteurized milk is shutting down his farm operation.
At one point, Michael Ilgert sold about 300 litres of raw milk per week to 60 families for $3 per litre.
But last year, the Renfrew County Health Unit charged him with delivering, distributing, offering for sale, and selling raw milk. It also charged him for failing to cease and desist.
After agreeing to $1,500 in fines and pleading guilty to three of the charges, Ilgert will no longer produce milk.
For Ilgert, a main focus of the issue is choice.
Consumers can knowingly go into a convenience store and purchase cigarettes, which are a known carcinogen, he said. But consumers aren’t given the chance to purchase the milk they prefer.
“The hypocrisy is that it’s legal for consumers to drink all the raw milk they want but they can’t buy it anywhere legally in Canada,” Ilgert told Farms.com today. “Consumers should have the freedom of choice of what they want to put into their bodies.”
Ilgert may be shutting down his farm operation for now but he isn’t giving up his fight to give consumers choice.
He’s speaking with Michael Schmidt, another Ontario raw milk advocate who’s faced jail time and permanent injunctions as a result of his unpasteurized dairy operation in Durham County.
Ilgert hopes to generate enough public and private support to overturn raw milk laws in Ontario.
“I’m hoping to get the laws changed,” he said. “It’s going to be up to the Ministry of the Attorney General, probably in accordance with the Ministry of Health. I was told I’d get a call back mid-week from the Attorney General’s office.”
Ilgert estimates there’s about 50 raw milk producers in Ontario, but he and Schmidt were targeted because of their openness on the subject.
“We decided to speak out on the issue,” he said. “Maybe the other (raw milk producers) are in hiding because they don’t want health units going after them as well.”