Protecting our South Dakota raw milk producers

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This being a rural state, most people who live here in South Dakota have had raw milk. And, they know how delicious that milk really is. Raw milk has gone through a bit of a revival nation-wide, with the health benefits of drinking raw milk coming out to the public in the past few years. In South Dakota it is no different, and people in the Black Hills region and Sioux Falls are lucky to be able to buy raw goat and cow milk from three great farmers:

Black Hills Milk – Owned and operated by Dawn and John Habeck
Black Hills Goat Dairy – Owned and operated by Lila Streff
5th Generation Farm – Owned and operated by Tim and Anita Eisenbeis

These producers provide a valuable, needed, and wanted service to their local communities. Back in 2010, Dakota Rural Action worked with these producers and several raw milk advocates to put together regulations and rules for raw milk production that would allow the producers to be licensed and sell their milk directly to consumers.

Over the past year, however, the South Dakota Department of Agriculture has been targeting raw milk producers in a way that threatens their businesses and puts additional (and unnecessary) stress on the farmers. You can read more about the Department of Agriculture’s actions here and here.

Particularly disturbing is that South Dakota’s own Department of Agriculture dairy administrator, Darwin Kurtenbach, is quoted in the Rapid City Journal as saying he would rather drink gasoline than raw milk. While that may be his personal preference, it doesn’t mean he or the Department should be allowed to harass good farmers and business owners who are providing raw milk to people who would much rather drink that instead.

We have been working with a group in Rapid City, the Black Hills Food Freedom – Raw Milk Supporters group, to determine how the Department of Agriculture has been justifying the tests and harassment of these farmers. We believe they have been doing so without proper justification, and we will be lending our support to the Black Hills Food Freedom group however they decide to bring this to the attention of the legislature or the Department of Agriculture.

We’re big fans of local food, local production, and local farmers, and we hope you are, too. If you are interested in helping support South Dakota’s raw milk producers, let us know, or get in touch with the Black Hills Food Freedom group. As always, we’ll keep you updated!

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