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.

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.

Read more 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.

Op-Ed: State Should Recognize Personal Liberty and Personal Responsibility

One South Dakota resident penned a Letter to the Editor that was published in August 25, 2013 issue of the Capital Journal titled, “On Raw Milk, State Should Recognize Personal Liberty, Personal Responsibility.” In it, the author addresses the business principles, food safety and liberty rights that are all wrapped up in the issue of raw milk. Continue reading