12/05/2012 05:07 EST | Updated 02/04/2013 05:12 EST

Raw milk advocate Michael Schmidt charged in theft of quarantined sheep: CFIA

COBOURG, Ont. - An Ontario farmer embroiled in a legal battle with the province over producing and selling raw milk is now facing charges arising from the removal of sheep from a quarantined farm.

Michael Schmidt, Montana Jones, Suzanne Atkinson and Robert Pinnell are charged following an investigation into the removal of 31 sheep from an eastern Ontario farm on April 2.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says those charges include obstructing a CFIA inspector, transportation of an animal under quarantine, and conspiracy to defraud the public service.

Glencolton Farms, a co-op operated by Schmidt and Robert Pinnell, was raided on Aug. 2 by the CFIA in connection with the Shropshire sheep taken from a federally quarantined farm in Northumberland County.

Those sheep had been quarantined over concerns they had a disease known as scrapie, and Schmidt has denied having anything to do with their removal.

Earlier this year, Schmidt won the right to appeal his conviction in 2011 for producing, selling and distributing raw milk.

In Canada, it is illegal to market, sell or distribute unpasteurized milk or cream.

Health Canada warns that raw milk contains several harmful bacteria including salmonella, E. coli and Listeria and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, kidney failure, miscarriage and even death.

But supporters say unpasteurized milk has many health benefits and argue they have the right to decide what they can consume. All milk sold commercially in Canada has been pasteurized since 1991.

(CFOS, The Canadian Press)