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Friday, November 20, 2009

South Dakota Wants de Facto Raw Milk Ban

Anti-Nanny-State Free-Market Advocates Silent
on South Dakota's Continued War on Small Family Farms

Friends in the dairy industry let me know about a South Dakota Department of Agriculture proposal to effectively ban raw milk sales. Small dairy operators could still get permits to sell their product directly to local buyers, but the proposed rules would require small operations to buy the same costly equipment and testing as big factory dairies, a budget-buster for small operators.

Steve Miller of the Rapid City Journal gave the issue some Saturday coverage:

Lila Streff milks about 20 goats at her farm, south of Custer, which she says has passed all state dairy inspections.

But Streff said if she is required by the new rules to buy expensive equipment and conduct more testing, she will be forced to quit selling milk.

...Streff says the requirements are unnecessary and constitute a de facto ban on raw milk sales in South Dakota because most small dairy farmers can’t afford to comply.

She said the bottling machines cost about $9,000, and the specialized jars that fit the machines cost up to $3,000.

“There’s no proof that it’s more sanitary to have a machine do it than to hand cap it,” she said [Steve Miller, "State Proposes New Rules for Raw Milk Sales," Rapid City Journal, 2009.11.14].

The proposed rules also include this Big Brother treat:

Milk plants that provide or offer bottled raw milk for human consumption shall maintain a current list of persons to whom they have provided raw milk for human consumption. The list must be continually updated and include the data for at least 60 days. This customer list shall include customer names, addresses, phone numbers, and quantities of bottled raw milk for human consumption. This list shall be provided to the department upon the department’s request.

South Dakota's agricultural policies have already contributed to the growth of massive, polluting CAFOs and the near extinction of genuine small family dairies. The proposed de facto ban on raw milk sales is a travesty against small family farms and against the free market.

But where are the defenders of family farms and personal freedom on this issue? Pat Powers likens supporters of a smoking ban to Nazis and protest government "telling businessowners what they can do in their place of business," but he never says a word about Pierre regulating small farmers out of business. If Pierre proposed convenience stores record the names, addresses and phone numbers of their cigarette buyers, Powers would go ape.

Troy Hadrick, self-proclaimed "Advocate for Agriculture," is even more deeply hypocritical. He howls about the Humane Society and eco-vandals and vegans, slaps the word "family" on factory farms and takes the Big Ag line on pasteurization, but he says nothing to defend real family farmers who haven't adopted the industrial agricultural production model. Worse, Hadrick whines about federal legislation that would increase testing for e. Coli in hamburger at slaughterhouses and grinding houses (i.e., the meat factories) and says consumers should do their part to prevent food-borne illness.

Do you think Hadrick and the Farm Bureau for whom he propagandizes (at $2000 a pop!) will apply that same standard to protect small South Dakota dairy farms? I would welcome some consistency from my Big-Ag, free-market neighbors to defend the rights of small dairy farmers to sell their products locally.

Update 10:35 CST: Dakota Rural Action is at least speaking up on this issue to protect small farmers. Dakota Rural Action: you know, the group Sibby tries to say is "not a rural South Dakota organization" (black has never been more white). The group Dakota War College mocks as cowardly, unscientific whiners. Seems to me Dakota Rural Action shows more courage than anyone else around here in standing up for rural South Dakotans.


  1. Hadrick has a website? Oh my,the fellow makes my blood boil. Does he realize what a pawn he is for big ag?
    Hypocrisy rears it's ugly head all over. In 2008, when the Grant County Concerned Citizens began to organize, a woman showed up at one of our meetings. On the way out one of the neighbors stopped her and asked her who she was. I am not sure what she would have said (she was really scuttling to get out of the place, before being stopped), except we had a speaker from DRA that night who recognized her. She had been sent up from Sioux Falls, representing AgUnited. She said they "took no sides" on the cafo issue, they represent everyone. Shortly after that there was a meeting in Milbank, pro cafo, sponsored by, you guessed it, AgUnited. A DENR panel was there, also the editor of Dakota Farmer, Bill Even, Steve Dick and whatsisname from SDSU. The ads said that there would be questions from the audience, but only written questions that were previewed before asking. Anyway, GCCC has yet to hear of any offers of help from AgUnited, and the knife in the back is that is where checkoff money goes.
    I also called Steve Dick on KWAT once and asked him why, if his org represents 'all farmers', why GCCC or any group wanting stricter rules on cafos, got no offers of assistance from A.U.
    joelie hicks

  2. I can smoke cigarettes, ride a motorcycle without a helmet, drink myself blind if i don't bother anyone, or drive. I can swill pop full of HFCS from machines on every corner. It is of no matter to the state what the hydrogen sulfide levels are from any nearby cafos, and how they affect my health, but they want to protect me from drinking raw milk from my neighbor's bulk tank? Milk I must go get from them so I can see right where it is coming from?
    Am I the only one who sees a disconnect?
    joelie hicks


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