Small Dairies in South Dakota Decide to Stop Selling Raw Milk Due to New Regulations

On December 11, 2013, the South Dakota Department of Agriculture implemented new, stricter regulations on raw milk that has already forced at least one small dairy to stop selling the food.

After the new regulations were announced but before they went into effect, the owner of Black Hills Milk in Belle Fourche made her own announcement: the dairy would stop selling raw milk because the new regulations, including one that sets the maximum coliform level at 10 parts per milliliter, would make it too difficult to continue.

Dawn Habeck, co-owner of Black Hills Milk, explained: “The coliform level increases every minute after the milk comes from the cow’s udder. [It] only drops after it’s pasteurized. So the rule basically makes it impossible to sell raw milk.”

Gena Parkhurst, Secretary of the Black Hills chapter of Dakota Rural Action, argues that coliform is a naturally occurring bacteria in raw milk that can be beneficial for human health, and points out that maximum levels of coliform vary widely between states.

“The [new] rules are burdensome, confusing and basically anti-business,” Parkhurst says. “We’re supposed to be the most business-friendly state, so why is the department being so hard on raw milk producers?”

Katie Konda, a policy analyst for the South Dakota Department of Agriculture, says that the new coliform level is not unattainable and raw milk producers in nine other states meet the same requirements.

Read more about the dairies’ struggle to adjust to the new regulations here.

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation. Donate to help fund research into the benefits of nutrient dense foods.

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