Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fly-By Ethics

Eleven years ago we were very proud of the fact that through God's blessings, our hard work , and a small grant from the "Bank of Mom" (my mom had died, and left each of her children approximately $10,000 a princely sum considering the life long finacial struggles of my parents) we were able to start our own Grade A licensed Dairy. My husband Keith had worked for other dairy farmers for many years before this, so to have our own dairy was his long time dream come true.

We took that license seriously. We followed the rules as outlined by the Public Health Department of Illinois. Our "deficiencies" were rare and small and corrected as they were identified. We watched the findings of our milk sample testing closely and made adjustments to the way we milked, the way we cleaned cows, the way we fed cows as needed.

Now, suddenly, IDPH wants nothing to do with us. They have said "your permit is worthless. Tear it up" Odd but true. No, we did not break any rules, our standards have not decreased but it seems whenever a farmer dares to think out of the box, well...our goverment gets a little nervous. We would prefer to be surveyed. It keeps you on your toes, makes you accountable. The solution in my pea brain would be to develop a program  in Illinois for raw milk licensure. How better to keep raw milk production clean and safe for the public.? Public safety. Isn't that the current screaming mantra of the public health officials ? Seems a much more logical solution instead of the current "Don't ask, don't tell, don't survey" approach they are taking.

It would be so easy for Keith and I to become slack in our milk production. Cheaper too. But then we would be admitting that the only reason we ever followed the rules and regs was because we had to, not because we felt it was the right thing to do, i.e.situational ethics. To be honest we did consider that, but we knew it would be wrong, for the people we serve, our raw milk customers. In fact we have UPGRADED some of our procedures and made them more evident to our customers, In the milk house we have posted cleaning logs for our tank. Customers can clearly see when our milk tank was last cleaned, by whom and with what  detergent. We have also posted very clear directions on removing milk from the tank to help ensure consistency in accessing our milk. The first step is WASH YOUR HANDS.

Since Foremost no longer picks up our milk they are no longer testing it. We have therefore contrated with Daily labs of Peoria to test our milk. Results will be posted for our customers to see. Again, not required since we are no longer licensed by the state but the quality of our milk is important to us regardless of IDPH's apathy.

In the near future we will be developing a newsletter which will outline pros and cons of raw milk. The best consumer is a well informed consumer. We will also post forms to lodge complaints or makes suggestions for improvement . I once was very opposed to those who would call their farms "Beyond Organic". Now I understand a little better as we work towards being "Beyond Grade A"


  1. If I Knew where, I would love to have organic raw milk. I live in Chicago !

  2. Go girl! Break the mold and push out beyond our government that has lost all common sence. I salute your efforts.

  3. If anyone out there wants more info about raw milk just call us at 815-635-3414