By Connor Lynch
KILLALOE — Raw milk dairy farmer Michael Ilgert will be getting his day in court.
Ilgert, who has a small Jersey herd in Killaloe, about 90 minutes west of Ottawa, runs a cow-share program where he distributes raw milk to his members. Ilgert faces five charges from the Renfrew County Health Unit, including delivering, distributing, offering for sale, selling raw milk, and failing to cease and desist.
He faces a fine of $5,000 a day that he’s found in infraction of the law, which he figures already totals $1 million, he told Farmers Forum. Though he’s yet to enter a plea, he plans on pleading not guilty.
Ilgert will be representing himself, he said, though he is getting advice from an Ottawa lawyer. To defend himself, he plans to cite a ruling from 2010 in favour of Michael Schmidt. Schmidt, a Western Ontario raw milk farmer, has been the figurehead of the movement in Ontario to legalize raw milk. In that 2010 ruling, a judge found him not guilty of violating the law because the judge found that Schmidt’s operation satisfied the provisions in the law that allow for raw milk to be consumed. That decision was overturned on appeal by the Crown.
Ilgert was originally set to enter a plea on Oct. 23, but another case involving the legality of Schmidt’s cow-share program has yet to result in a verdict. Ilgert’s case was pushed back because that ruling will directly affect how he makes the case in his defence.
Ilgert will have a third pretrial meeting on Jan. 10, and the trial is set for February. Ilgert plans to call Michael Schmidt as a witness in his trial, he said.