South Dakota Raw Milk Regulations

You can have raw milk for sale IF you jump through incredible hoops….

Black Hills Milk pulls plug on raw milk sales

120813-nws-milk

December 07, 2013 5:00 am  •  Scott Feldman Journal staff

Days after the South Dakota Department of Agriculture announced it would begin implementing new regulations for raw milk producers, a Belle Fourche dairy decided it will no longer sell the product.

Dawn Habeck, co-owner of Black Hills Milk, said the new regulations would make it too difficult to keep selling raw milk to their customers, who were among the opponents of the state’s new regulations.

The new regulations take effect Wednesday. One sets the maximum coliform level for milk at 10 parts per milliliter. Habeck said that standard is virtually impossible for raw milk producers to meet.

“The coliform level increases every minute after the milk comes from the cow’s udder,” she said. “The coliform level only drops after it’s pasteurized. So the rule basically makes it impossible to sell raw milk.”

Coliform is a naturally occurring bacteria in raw milk that can be beneficial, said Gena Parkhurst, secretary for the Black Hills chapter of Dakota Rural Action. She said that maximum allowable levels of coliform vary widely between states.

Parkhurst said she was saddened, but not entirely surprised, that Black Hills Milk decided to get out of the raw milk business after the new regulations were approved.

“The rules are burdensome, confusing and basically anti-business,” she said. “We’re supposed to be the most business-friendly state, so why is the department being so hard on raw milk producers?”

Katie Konda, policy analyst for the Department of Agriculture, said the regulations were created to establish a basic standard of safety.

To come up with these regulations, the department looked at 13 states that allow raw milk sales. Nine of those states had a maximum coliform level of 10 parts per milliliter, so that’s what South Dakota adopted, Konda said.

Those states are California, Washington, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Maine and New Hampshire, she said.

“It’s not an unattainable level. Other individuals in those states have meet these requirements,” Konda said.

Just looking at one piece of information from several states is not a fair way to create a law because each of those states vary greatly in other ways, Parkhurst said.

For example, California and Maine allow the sale of raw milk in retail stores, while Washington does not require pathogen testing, which South Dakota will require, she said.

Customers can get still get raw milk if they buy an undivided share of a cow and have Habeck become its caretaker. She can still legally provide the cow’s raw milk to a shareholder.

The Black Hills Milk Store in Spearfish will remain open and continue to sell meats and locally produced vegetables and eggs, Habeck said.

The market also will sell Burbach Milk from Nebraska, which is pasteurized but not homogenized, Habeck said.

 

 

Raw Milk is Not Local Food???

A few years ago, the State of Maine passed several local food freedom ordinances and I was very excited by their success and commitment. Although there was a little problem with their ordinances, they were mostly very positive, and with Maine’s “home rule” authority, it looked like there might be hope in this type of action. First of all, it was local, and local seems to be one type of politics we can actually have a positive effect on. Well guess what? Apparently even if we get our freedom to choose our own food into statute or ordinance, it’s irrelevant to the the courts and the federally controlled State governments.

In Maine, the State went after a giant dairy farmer, Dan Brown, who milked one or two cows and sold his milk locally. Here’s the outcome from Farm To Consumer Legal Defense Fund:

Dan Brown Hearing in Maine Food Sovereignty Case: Judge Finds Raw Milk Not a ‘Local Food’

by admin on May 7, 2013

This is a rewrite of the April 30th original and the May 4th revision. More about the Case

DBrown--IMG_3920In an incredible decision rendered on May 1st, the Hancock County Superior Court ruled against farmer Dan Brown on his motion for summary judgment. The Court instead granted summary judgment in favor of the State of Maine and issued an injunction enjoining Mr. Brown from selling raw milk and other food products from his farm stand.

The State had alleged that Dan was (1) selling raw milk without being in possession of a milk distributor’s license, (2) selling raw milk without having the necessary warning label, and (3) selling other foods prepared in his home kitchen without being in possession of a retail food license. Dan had argued that for over 30 years the Department of Agriculture had a policy of allowing small, unlicensed milk producers like him sell raw milk from their farm as long as they did not advertise or solicit the sale. He also argued that the Town of Blue Hill, Maine’s local ordinance exempted him from licensing requirements. Dan was represented by General Counsel Gary Cox and his Ellsworth, Maine co-counsel Sandy Collier who argued the case on his behalf.

Blue Hill’s local ordinance provides, in part, that local food produced by a farmer and sold to a consumer for home consumption need not be licensed or inspected. The Court, however, concluded that “nothing in the Blue Hill ordinance clearly states that the town intended to include milk within the definition of local food.” What’s clear is that the judge disregarded the definitions section of the Blue Hill Ordinance:

(c) “Local Foods ” means any food or food product that is grown, produced, or processed by individuals who sell directly to their patrons through farm-based sales or buying clubs, at farmers markets, roadside stands, fundraisers or at community social events.

(d) “Processor ” means any individual who processes or prepares products of the soil or animals for food or drink.

(e) “Producer ” means any farmer or gardener who grows any plant or animalfor food or drink.

DBrown--IMG_3929_2
FTCLDF member Dan Brown flanked by Attorneys
Gary Cox and Sandy Collier

Dan’s case has been described as a test case in Maine, a state where several local food sovereignty ordinances have been passed in an effort to allow local control over the production, distribution and consumption of local foods. Unfortunately, the Court’s ruling is another example of why the public citizenry loses faith in government when it cannot obtain redress from the judicial system and why more farmers and consumers are resorting to civil disobedience as a means of asserting their rights.

A penalty hearing has been set for May 16th at 9:00 am. At that time the court will determine the appropriate amount of civil penalty to be imposed for the violations alleged in the State’s complaint.

Texas Farmer Ordered to Dump His Milk

The war on raw dairy is going to to continue to increase. No matter what the “health” departments and the FDA say, this is not because they are concerned with our actual health. It is simply a control issue.

Below is an excerpt and link to a recent “enforcement action” on a “permitted” raw dairy farmer in Texas.

This kind of stuff makes me angry on a cellular level.

It’s a waste and a crime against the farmer and the people that he provided raw milk to before this destruction. No one was ill, no allegations of concern about the quality of the milk were made. No HARM occurred to anyone, but the State revoked his permit and made him dump 700 gallons of milk for not requiring all of his customers to come to his farm. As if in a “free” society there is any logic in government telling people what they may or may not eat or how they may or not procure what they want to eat.

There is a scripture that pretty well sums up this issue: “Woe unto those who call good evil and evil good”. Nuff said.

Texas Forces Raw Milk Dairy to Dump 700 Gallons of Milk

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Texas Forces Miller Dairy Dump Milk Help Raw Milk Bill

Texas is one of the many states where sales of raw milk are legal. However, unlike some states, Texas does not permit raw milk to be sold off the farm where it’s produced.

In other words, you can not buy raw milk at a farmer’s market or in a retail store. I am lucky enough to live a few miles down the road from a raw milk dairy, so I can drive up to the farm store and pick up milk once a week without any hassle. Unfortunately, many other Texas raw milk drinkers aren’t so lucky.

Some consumers who live quite far from the farms that produce their milk have taken to arranging a sort of driving/delivery system where a group representative buys the milk at the farm and delivers it to drop points in various locations where participants reimburse the driver. Or buyers place orders “at the farm” over the phone or online, but the farm delivers the milk to them. Arguably, these practices are illegal, a mere play on words to mask a violation of the spirit of the law while still adhering to its letter. (read the rest here-there is a video of the milk being dumped as well)

Morningland Dairy- The Final Solution

©Doreen Hannes 2013

The Door to Morningland Dairy Cheese House

The Door to Morningland Dairy Cheese House

On August 26th, 2010 the destruction of Morningland Dairy began. Having lost a two and half year battle with cancer of the State, the interment will take place on January 25th, 2013.

People involved in all aspects of food production, be it growing, processing or distributing, should read through all the documentation and understand that Morningland’s saga is the model for all independent food production under the FDA’s new Food Safety Modernization Act. Critical to this destruction are “science-based standards” as opposed to scientifically accurate controls and concerns. The Global Food Safety Initiative combined with “Good Agricultural Practices” and the “Guide to Good Farming” will ensure that an inability to feed the population will occur.  Morningland Dairy is an early casualty of these “science based standards”.

Visions and Hopes-The Birth

Joseph and Denise Dixon took over Morningland Dairy after Denise completed a two year internship with the founders of Morningland, Jim and Margie Reiner. The Dixons finalized the purchase and began improvements on the Missouri Milk Board inspected and approved raw milk cheese plant in October of 2008. The entire family was tremendously pleased because this would allow Joseph to be home with the family instead of on the road working as an electrician in the eastern half of the United States.  The Dixons wanted to expand the varieties of cheese made by the company and ventured into a broader array of production.

Their desire was to help other families in the historically poverty stricken Missouri Ozarks to make an actual living on the farm and allow families to stay together. They consulted with the Missouri Milk Board and arranged for two families to begin providing goat milk to Morningland and launched a popular goat milk cheese line shortly after taking over the company.

Goat Cheese Ready for Labeling

Morningland had six employees and other farming families dependent upon the continuance of the cheese plant. On August 26th, 2010, it came to a screeching halt.

While Joseph and Denise were at a cheese making conference in Washington State, the plant manager received a call from the Missouri Milk Board stating that there was an issue of potential contamination found by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) in Morningland cheese.

The cooler of $250,000 worth of cheese was immediately put under embargo, more accurately understood as house arrest, by the Missouri Milk Board. Don Falls, an inspector for the Milk Board, told the plant manager, “You should be back up and running by early next week.” Obviously, that wasn’t true. As a matter of fact, the very next morning, presumably after he spoke with the FDA, Falls’ entire attitude changed.

Over the weekend, the FDA leaked a nation wide recall on all of Morningland’s cheese produced in 2010. Not just the two batches that California indicated might be “suspect” for contamination, but their entire year’s production. Most of the cheese implicated as “suspect” by California had already been consumed. No complaints or ill effects were reported by any of the consumers of any of Morningland’s cheese. Nonetheless, the FDA required all of their products to be recalled.

Cheese in Morningland’s Cooler In Happier Days

Death by Bureaucracy

 Very few people realize the FDA has an armed and very military aspect. They showed up at Morningland in camouflage and made a lovely impression on those able to be at the unveiling of the future of food safety “FDA style”.

The FDA and Milk Board worked hand in hand to ensure that this little cheese plant in the midst of the Missouri Ozarks, that hadn’t made anyone sick in 30 years, would never make another batch of cheese for their loyal customers. Yet the FDA, who admit to killing 100,000 people a year, are allowed to gain ever more control over everything we take into our bodies. So the tally on deaths over the 30 year history of Morningland Dairy versus the FDA is:  Morningland “Zero”, FDA “3 Million”…or somewhere near that.

Despite significant effort, the FDA found no contamination in any cracks or drains in the cheese plant or even on the legs of the milk talk in the dairy barn. This evidence was not allowed to be introduced as part of Morningland’s defense because the Missouri Attorney General’s office contended that the FDA “was a separate issue.”

When pointedly asked what the specific process for getting the cheese plant back into production was, the Milk Board representative said it would involve a panel and consultation with the FDA to determine if that were a possibility. The members of the panel, other than the Milk Board and the FDA, and the specific requirements and processes were never delineated and no effort to achieve anything other than the destruction of the plant was ever evidenced by any official arm of the State of Missouri.

Neither the State of Missouri or the FDA ever conducted any tests on Morningland’s cheese. As a matter of fact, when Morningland tried to contract with a State approved lab to do proper tests on batches of their cheese, they were told that the lab simply did not want to get involved in the controversy. Morningland was denied the ability to legitimately test their product and defend their livelihood.

Adding insult to injury, Milk Board employee Don Falls testified in court and under oath that, improperly collected cheese samples, taken with no supervision and no instruction by an employee of Morningland for the plant’s manager, were in fact the State’s own tests.  This remains a very sore point for Joseph Dixon. He says, “When one commits perjury and no one in authority will hold them accountable for it, that individual and the system they support are nothing more than liars and thieves. In this case, the theft is of our ability to provide for our family and is based on bearing false witness to harm people who have harmed no one.”

Real Life Costs

 While bureaucrats masquerading as “protectors of public health” continue to be paid every month for the tortures they put people through, those being raped and pillaged by the very system that is supposed to “protect” them have to somehow come to terms with the fact that their very own tax dollars are being used to continue the offense.

When it became clear to the Dixons that the Missouri Milk Board was unwilling to work with them toward any resolution that would allow the cheese plant to resume operation or allow for the least bit of recompense for the $250,000 of cheese in the cooler, not even deeming the cheese safe for ultra high pasteurization to be put into dog food, Joseph contacted his previous employer and went back to work as an electrician….away from his home and family.

The Dixons, parents to 12 children, steeled themselves to do what they admonished their children to do. To stand for what was right no matter what the odds against them were. After their appeal for trial by jury was denied, they knew that they would need to face a State Agency, represented by the State Attorney, in front of judges appointed by the State. While they hoped that truth would prevail and that reality would actually be addressed, they didn’t go into this battle wearing rose colored glasses.

Initially, after over five weeks of dumping milk, some of their adult children milked the cows and Morningland sold into the commercial pasteurized chain, trying to make the farm pay for itself. When milk prices plummeted and the cost of feed soared, the decision to close the milk barn down was made. But the Dixons still needed to make the payment on the property they couldn’t use to make a living with any longer. They also had to pay to keep the cheese cooler running as the cheese was still under house arrest and effectively a ward of the State.

With Joseph again away from home during the week, and all the expense of keeping things in tact on the farm, things were difficult. Then Denise’s father became bed-ridden and her mother broke her ankle, so Denise and the younger children went to Ohio to care for her parents.

While the State employees continued to collect their wages, Denise Dixon nursed her mother back to wellness and cared for her father until he passed away. During this time, she had to make a couple of trips back to Missouri to face charges of contempt and allegations of attempting to sell illegal product.

None of the human issues in the disruption of lives and the stress of such assaults by the State seem to be taken into account when figuring the costs of these kinds of actions.

Should one believe the deductions set forth by Missouri’s Courts in this case, and take as fact the aspersions and allegations cast against Morningland in the court transcripts, the conclusion could be drawn that the State was the “Knight in Shining Armor” protecting the unwitting public against immoral people trying to poison their customers with products they created to be harmful.

But the truth is, the truth of the matter doesn’t matter. At least not to agents of the State of Missouri, but the People of Missouri generally hold a different opinion.

“Admittedly,” says Denise, “some of the tactics employed and the characterization of us running a “filthy” facility with “diseased animals” stunned us, but our Father is still in charge, and our hope is not in justice being served in man’s system.”

The End is Near

After exhausting all appeals, the cheese, still being kept cool in the refrigerator at Morningland Dairy, is set to be fully destroyed by the agents of the State, the Missouri Milk Board, on January 25th, 2013.

Two and a half years later, one could reasonably argue that the untended cheese has already been destroyed, and to some extent, that would be accurate. Just imagine that you close your refrigerator door and don’t get permission to look into it for 2 ½ years. How would that look to you? While pickles or olives might still be alright, it is highly likely that your dairy products would be a little bit off after such neglect, right?

Denise Dixon said, “After 6 months, the Colby was already gone, and that was about one fourth of the total cheese inventory. After not tending to it, no turning, no repackaging, no monitoring, at least half the cheddar has been ruined. The destruction has already taken place. Our family business, our livelihood, and our ability to provide people with living, positive food has been destroyed.”

Morningland's Cooler Now

Morningland’s Cooler Now

The Missouri Milk Board has ordered two dumpsters to be delivered to Morningland Dairy. So the cheese, which is “not fit for dog food”, will be put into dumpsters and delivered to a landfill to be consumed by wildlife which evidently are immune to the pathogens feared to be present.

Morningland Dairy will never be in business again.

No offer has been made by the Milk Board to prescribe the conditions that would need to be met by the operators to allow them to resume business. The Judge presiding over the case originally did write a regulatory prescription from the bench that was completely implausible for anyone to meet. It included a requirement to insure that no milking animal had bacteria indicative of potential mastitis at all prior to milking the animal.

To put that one judicial regulation into perspective, allow me to draw a parallel for those unfamiliar with milking animals. You milk twice a day, every day. The milk is “commingled” into one tank. So, imagine this….before sending your child to school, you must take a nasal swab and have it cultured to ensure that your child is not harboring a potential bacterial infection before boarding the bus. You would have to pay for this lab technician to be present every morning and for the tests. When your child came home in the afternoon, the same process would be repeated. You would have the immense pleasure of paying for this and keeping the records to validate the bacterial level present at each measuring.

While the scenario imagined above may not be literally impossible, it is certainly improbable, and it would be impossible to have any profit above the cost of production in such a scenario. But that wasn’t all that this judge set forth as regulation for Morningland from behind the bench, with no comprehension of dairy production or cheesemaking. The other prescriptions the judge made would have cost more than $100,000 in hard costs, with additional continuing costs for excessive testing during the cheesemaking process. He also still required the destruction of all cheese in the cooler, not allowing any batches to be cleared through testing. Additionally, the Missouri Milk Board never indicated that they would accept Morningland returning to production even if they did comply with the Judge Dunlap’s outlandish prescriptions.

The Missouri Milk Board nor the FDA have offered any process by which Morningland might be allowed to resume business and the courts have seemingly upheld Judge Dunlap’s regulating from the bench.

The Battle Is Over

Joseph and Denise Dixon of Morningland Dairy have given everything to this fight. Battling the State wasn’t really about them at all, but about our nation, our freedom, and our ability to choose food for ourselves and for our families that is truly nourishing and real. They held nothing back, but finally, the repeated systemic attacks have run their full course, and the dreams, hopes and labors of love poured into Morningland have succumbed.

As Joseph Dixon has summarized, “The state of Missouri has 6 million people from whom they draw tribute (taxes), from which they could fight us. To fight them, we had 65 cows.  And the truth never seemed even to be a consideration, let alone a goal.”

The Dixons no longer have those cows. They no longer have the cheese. They no longer have the family business and have lost all Joseph’s retirement savings, which the cheese represented. They are left with a skeleton. A milk barn with no cows, and a cheese plant with no milk, nor permission to ever make cheese again.

On January 25th, friends and family will witness the pulling of the plug on the cooler and the removal of the $250,000 worth of food created to nourish but prevented from fulfilling it’s purpose by bureaucracy and science based standards that have no basis in true science.

Rest In Peace, Morningland. Righteous judgment will come.

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For all articles and documents, please visit The Uncheese Party. You can also donate to help the family begin the next segment of their lives.

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