South Dakota is not much of a market for raw milk.  South Dakotans won’t be found at some “whole paycheck’ store, shelling out $15 a gallon for what’s trendy in California.  “Very few” of the state’s 400 dairies sell raw milk.

So, it was a surprise when South Dakota Agriculture Secretary Bill Even opted to pull proposed raw milk safety regulations for more study.   Even an attorney named to the post two years ago by SD Gov. Mike Rounds, says he wants more time to discuss the regulations “with those who produce and consume raw milk.”

South Dakota held a Nov. 17 public hearing on the proposed changes Even has now shelved.  The state currently requires inspections and permits for dairies that peddle raw milk.  Additions to the rules would have:

  • Prohibited capping bottles by hand.
  • Prohibited bottling in the same building where cows are milked.
  • Required twice yearly testing for tuberculosis and brucellosis.
  • Required maintaining customer lists with names, contact information and quantities of raw milk sold, and make them available to the Agriculture Department upon request.
  • Require testing for coliform with a maximum permissible level of 10 per milliliter.

The Rapid City Journal reported the raw milk dairies objected most to the semi-annual tuberculosis and brucellosis testing. But they also did not like the requirements, for machine bottling, separate structures, and maintaining customer lists.

Like most states, South Dakota has its own history of raw milk and cheese outbreaks as the unpasteurized dairy products frequently make people sick from pathogens like Salmonella and Campylobacter.   In 1994, an outbreak linked to cheese made with raw milk sickened 58 South Dakotans.

Nevertheless, raw milk advocates said the proposed South Dakota rules were burdensome and unfair.  Even has told the SD Legislature’s Interim Rules Committee he will get back to them.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Wyoming, officials warned residents that it is illegal to sell or buy raw milk in the Cowboy State.  The “cow shares” scam is sometimes used in Wyoming in an attempt to evade the law.