Raw milk proposal altered to focus only on products for sale

Farm Forum

PIERRE – The state Department of Agriculture is stepping back from some of its proposed safety regulations for raw milk.

Producers of raw milk for commercial sale for human consumption in South Dakota would be subject to health testing, labeling, freshness dating and other safety precautions.

But those requirements wouldn’t apply to raw milk consumed for free by a producer’s household or given away to others.

In those instances where commercial sale isn’t planned, raw milk would be considered similar to produce from a home garden.

State Agriculture Secretary Lucas Lentsch scaled back the safety regulations after a public hearing last month.

Opponents at the June 6 hearing said a producer would have needed a state permit and must meet a variety of regulations whether the raw milk was to be sold, consumed by the producer’s household or provided for free to others.

Now the terms “offer” and “provide” have been replaced by “sale,” so the intended scope is limited to commercial activity.

Various animal-health requirements also have been eliminated from the proposed rules because they already are in place under state animal-industry regulations.

State dairy regulators plan to hold a second meeting July 26 in Pierre to receive public comments on the revised rules proposal.

Raw milk is defined in the rules as milk that hasn’t been pasteurized and covers milk from cows, sheep, goats and other hoofed animals.

Raw milk is considered by many public-health officials to increase risks of illness and disease to those consuming it.

Courtney De La Rosa, a lawyer for the department and its director of agriculture policy, said the rules “clearly state that individuals who consume raw milk from their own animals will not be affected by the proposed rules.”

“The primary objectives remain the same: to protect public health and to provide clarity for producers seeking to put bottled raw milk into the stream of commerce,” she said.

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