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South Dakota Department of Agriculture pushing to make raw milk less accessible to public

Thursday, October 24, 2013 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: raw milk, South Dakota, government regulations

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(NaturalNews) The corporate food police are back at it again, trying to eliminate consumer access to farm-fresh fare, this time in South Dakota, where the state's agriculture department is pushing hard to pass burdensome new raw milk regulations. The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund reports that the South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA) recently held its third round of hearings on proposed new rules that would place undue financial and regulatory burdens on family farmers, which in turn could drive many of them out of business.

Back in June, the SDDA proposed an amendment to the state's existing raw milk rules to require that all producers regularly submit milk samples for testing, adhere to strict labeling requirements and maintain all milk at or below certain bacterial thresholds, among other requirements. The idea was that the proposed rules would be open for public comment throughout the summer and early fall and ultimately be finalized to reflect the public interest, and especially that of the raw milk community, which is the biggest stakeholder in the matter.

But the SDDA apparently ignored the more than 600 written comments it received prior to a July 26 hearing on the amendment and has since moved forward with its own agenda, which seems to be motivated by serving corporate interests rather than defending public health. According to numerous reports, the amendment is hardly about improving the safety of raw milk so much as it is about catering to the corporate dairy cartel, which is obviously threatened by the burgeoning grassroots raw milk industry.

In a recent commentary on the issue, BenSwann.com's Joshua Cook explains how this latest attempted power grab by a state agriculture department reflects the underlying sentiment of animosity that many government officials have towards raw milk. Besides placing oppressive and completely unnecessary new requirements on small dairies, the amendment seeks to destroy the very integrity of raw milk itself, rendering it impossible to sell legally in its natural form.

"Some have argued that the regulations -- such as those designating maximum numbers of beneficial bacteria -- are unreasonably low, and will be next to impossible to achieve," writes Cook. "Many who drink raw milk drink it specifically for these beneficial bacteria ... The idea that the state would regulate the production of raw milk to minimize the very aspects of the product that people find beneficial and appealing simply reiterates the idea that the state feels it knows best."

SDDA has proven itself to be a domestic terrorist organization trying to eliminate access to raw milk

Besides failing to acknowledge the many public comments it has received since June opposing the proposed amendment, the SDDA has also proven itself to be little more than a corporate lapdog and an enemy of the people of South Dakota. This was made apparent back in 2012 when the agency needlessly shut down Black Hills Milk, LLC, a raw milk dairy that it falsely accused of selling tainted milk. This little SDDA stunt damaged raw milk sales all across the state, harming many raw milk farms in the process.

"I am concerned that if these rules are implemented, the Department of Agriculture will have even more tools to shut down raw milk dairy farmers," says Dawn Habeck, co-owner of Black Hills Milk, which has since switched to a "herd share" format of distributing milk rather than on-farm sales. "These small family businesses do not have the resources to hire attorneys and lobbyists to fend off hostile actions by the Department of Agriculture."

"After the negative publicity last fall due to the campylobacter testing fiasco, sales dropped from 95-98 gallons per day to 45 and never recovered... effectively not allowing us to cover our fixed costs. In a small operation, gallons per day are critical to cover fixed costs. It was the straw that broke the camel's back."

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