Raw milk – “South Dakota wins!”

Since 2009, when the South Dakota Department of Agriculture first proposed rules regulating the sale of raw milk for human consumption, the tension between raw milk producers and consumers, the Department, and the dairy industry has been at best, tepid, and at worst, an all-out fight.

(To hear more about the history and where we are now, listen to our Dakota Rural Voices podcast episode – and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss one!)

The regulatory issue came to a head in last year’s legislative session. In February 2014, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, rather than pass the raw milk bill then under consideration, suggested the formation of a Raw Milk Work Group in order to research raw milk statutory and regulatory issues and decide on a path forward.

The group was formed after the legislative session. Members of the group included Department of Agriculture Secretary Lucas Lentsch, Department employees, licensed raw milk farmers, dairy industry representatives, SDSU subject matter experts, and raw milk producers and consumers – and everyone, in the beginning, was wary.

But after a year of sitting around a table, we have indeed come up with a path forward. Senate Bill 45 is the result of collaboration and compromise on the part of all participants. The improved statute will help preserve existing raw milk dairies in our state, as well as provide a clear regulatory framework for new raw milk dairy farmers to enter into the business.

Key Provisions in Senate Bill 45:

  • Raw milk, and now cream, will continue to be legal for sale direct to the consumer in South Dakota.
  • SB 45 creates a clear definition and separate set of rules for the sale of raw milk for human consumption, establishing raw milk as a clearly legal product, rather than an exemption.
  • A license and permit are still required to produce and market raw milk for human consumption, and dairy farmers will still have their facilities inspected annually by the Department of Agriculture.
  • A licensed and permitted raw milk producer must maintain sales records for notification in case of an issue, including contact information for their customers. These customer lists will not be subject to review by the Department of Agriculture unless there is an issue that is not addressed by the farmer.
  • Sale at farmers markets or retail locations remain illegal; however, producers are able to deliver milk to existing customers or promote their products at farmers markets. In return, producers will not need to put a warning label on their bottles.

Rules for facilities, testing, sampling procedures, cooling and storage, etc. have been laid out and will be finalized by the Raw Milk Working Group once SB 45 is approved and signed into law.

We support the bill, and look forward to seeing it pass.

The process worked very well with Secretary Lentsch’s leadership. He fostered an environment that encouraged productive conversations. This was no small undertaking, considering the widely varying backgrounds of participants. The new statute will create a business environment that will allow South Dakota’s raw milk farmers to stay in business, a win-win for farmers and consumers. Gena Parkurst, raw milk consumer

As a producer of raw milk, I am grateful for the process and product of the Raw Milk Work Group, established by Sec. Lentsch and so ably participated in by all parties. To me, it was proof that government of and by the people works and is best for all. I believe SB45 establishes excellent standards for raw milk, both for producers to work within and to guarantee a safe and high quality product for consumers. South Dakota wins! Tim Eisenbeis, Happy Grazing Dairy Raw Milk Producer



  1. […] representatives, dairy industry representatives, and raw milk producers and consumers. (See South Dakota Raw Milk Wins–Dakota […]

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