The production, testing and labeling of raw milk will be under new rules in South Dakota effective Dec. 11, 2013.
State Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch approved the rules, clearing the way for the changes under consideration since early this year to go into effect. The changes were already passed by the South Dakota Legislature’s Rules Review Committee and were subjected to three public hearings.
Lentsch said that, “at a bare minimum,” the public needs to know that raw milk is not pasteurized and the date on which it was bottled.
“Those are all very minimum expectations that we’ve put out there for the raw milk producers, and it’s really for the public health and safety,” he said.
The new South Dakota rules set a maximum coliform level of 10 per milliliter for raw milk, which at least one producer says is “next to impossible to hit.” Dawn Habeck, who owns Black Hills Milk in Belle Fourche, predicts the new rules will put raw milk dairies out of business.
Habeck and other raw milk advocates say that naturally occurring bacteria in milk increase as soon as it leaves a cow’s udder and that the milk’s beneficial nutrients and enzymes are destroyed by pasteurization.
South Dakota’s five licensed raw milk dairies will be able to sell their products on the farm or through home delivery as long as they are properly labeled. Lentsch has promised that his department will help producers comply with the changes.
Black Hills Milk, however, plans to withdraw to a so-called “herd share model,” limiting its sales to a private group of owners who will share expenses along with the raw milk and raw milk products. The dairy previously sold raw milk products at the Rapid City farmer’s market.