South Dakota Raw Milk Regulation Under Revision

South Dakota is one of 25 states that allows the sales of raw milk directly to consumers on the farm or through home delivery. In May 2013, changes were proposed to the state’s raw milk regulations that would include the requirement of a warning label and limiting bacteria count.

The proposed changes proved controversial across the state and prompted three public hearings for producers and others to express their concerns. Many of the dairy farmers who spoke at the public hearings said that the proposed changes could make operating their business more difficult or even put them out of business.

Following the hearings, two amendments were made to the proposed regulations: simplify the warning labels required on each container of milk and increase the bacteria count from 20,000 to 30,000 per ml.

Courtney De La Rosa, Policy Director of the state’s agriculture department, explained the reasoning behind these amendments. She said that previous wording of the warning label was unnecessarily long. The new warning label will read, “Warning: Raw milk. This product has not been pasteurized and may contain harmful bacteria.” De La Rosa also explained that both Grade A and Grade B dairies across the state often report as high as 30,000 bacteria per milliliter, so it is fair to relax the requirement for raw milk to the same standard.

The two amendments are beneficial for raw milk producers in South Dakota. The revised rules were approved by Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch on October 21, 2013 and now await final approval from the interim legislative rules committee on November 12, 2013.

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