|The Family Milk Cow. Soon to be extinct in Illinois?|
Please note: If you are new to my blog you can catch up on the reasons for my raw milk passion and the struggles our own farm have experienced, by reading any of the previous posts on the topic I have written over the last 4 years . To do so, simply enter "Raw Milk" in the search bar under the picture of our house, on the right.
As of last week IDPH has announced the completion of their new rules for raw milk production in Illinois and are rapidly attempting to send them through their legislative layers without due notification of the public. Well, it's no big surprise considering the way the Illinois Department of Public Health ignored our comments last year while we served on its bogus Dairy Work Group.
Here is the current situation and the actions you can still take.
The Dairy Work Group met for over a year.
Farmers and consumers worked very hard to educate IDPH about the lack of raw milk related illnesses in Illinois and the need to keep any raw milk productions related rules SIMPLE.
Molly Lamb of IDPH disbanded the group in November of 2013 and on Feb. 21, 2014 completed The Draft Notice of Proposed Amendments specifically titled "Title 77: Public Health, Chapter I: Department of Public Health, subchapter m: Food, Drugs and Cosmetics, Part 775 Grade A Pasteurized Milk and Milk Products.
Because this document has not yet been officially filed with the Illinois Register, there is still time to contact IDPH with your opinions and comments. THE VERY BEST WAY to do this is through this Raw Milk Survey created by one of the dedicated raw milk farmers, Cliff McConville, who served with Keith and I on the Dairy Work Group last year. Please, if you are a raw milk farmer, consumer or just deeply concerned about your rights to consume the food you and your family desire without governmental interference, take a few minutes to complete the survey.
|Our cows, our farm.|
South Pork Ranch, Chatsworth, Illinois
Now, why the big concern? The draft of proposed rule changes is over 22 pages long so I'll summarize the key points that will apply to raw milk if the rules are passed. Keep in mind rather than the Tier 1 and Tier 2 clarifications the Dairy Group suggested, IDPH is defining the raw milk farms as either "On-Farm Raw Milk" or "Off -Farm Raw Milk"
Page 2. Definition of a Dairy Farm "Dairy Farm means any place or premise where one or more cows or goats are kept, and from which a part or all of the milk or milk products are provided, sold, or offered for sale to a consumer, milk plant, transfer station, or receiving station"
WHY THIS IS A PROBLEM: If IDPH is successful in labeling an individual who owns ONE cow or ONE goat , and sells any amount of raw milk to a consumer, they will be required to meet all the lengthy and expensive requirements (to follow) for that dairy required by the state.
page 3. Definition of "Grade A" ..."The term Grade A "means that milk and milk products are produced in accordance with the current Grade A Pasteurized Milk Ordinance...The term Grade A is applicable to "dairy farm."...
WHY THIS IS A PROBLEM: If passed this means that the small homesteader with just ONE cow or ONE goat must meet all Grade A requirements. Just a few of those requirement are:
all dairy farms must be permitted by IDPH
regular inspections of YOUR farm by IDPH
required regular milk testing at your cost
it will be UNLAWFUL for you to sell raw milk for human consumption without being permitted
Donations, bartering, free samples and gifts of any type is PROHIBITED. Yes, that is right . IDPH
has the nerve to tell YOU, you cannot barter your own farm products for other products or
All dairy farms must meet over 5 pages on inspection standards that tell you what type of equipment
you must use for milking, how to care for your animals, (by those who sit behind desks) how to
clean your equipment and the chemicals you must use, your milking environment, equipment
storage and on and on.
pg. 13 For farms who sell raw milk ON-FARM "Distribution agreements, herd shares or any other contractual agreements or exchanges are prohibited for on-farm raw milk permitted dairy farms"
WHY THIS IS A PROBLEM: Clearly IDPH wants only the tiniest amount of raw milk produced and sold in Illinois. This means that if one customer has an agreement with two or three or six other customers to pick up their milk for them, they will be breaking the law. It also means that a farmer cannot create his own private contract with his own customer to provide milk to that customer who might own a "share" of a particular cow or goat, a practice that has been successfully well utilized in our country for decades. This flies directly in the face of other Livestock Liens laws that are currently on the books in Illinois.
pg. 19 Under Quality Count Requirements and Standards..."For every day of a sale or distribution action, a raw milk sample shall be kept a minimum of five days...stored between 32 degrees F and 40 degrees F, in a sanitary container, be at least 6 oz and be labeled with date of transaction. "
WHY THIS IS A PROBLEM: The intent is clearly to have access to samples with which to prove fault in the event of an consumer related illness complaint. Although raw milk farmers as a rule are very diligent about cleanliness of their produce and most would certainly take responsibility for an illness that GENUINELY originated at their farm, this requirement sets the farmer up for failure. Milk samples may be incorrectly collected. "Sanitary Containers" vary widely. Who decides? Samples left unguarded could be contaminated accidentally or intentionally. Also, there are appropriate techniques for sample collecting that farmers may not be aware of. Who will provide such training at whose cost? How will that training be updated and at whose cost?
To Summarize. You might find it interesting to know that our dairy here on South Pork Ranch will have no difficulty meeting these standards. Reason being, we were Grade A licensed for over a decade before IDPH told us we no longer needed our license (4 years ago) when we stopped selling through Foremost. But the real issue is this...why should small raw milk farmers with just a few goats or cows (or just ONE) be subjected to such gross over regulation when the incidence or illness related to raw milk produced by a raw milk farmer in Illinois has been zero in the last 11 years?
Obviously to me and others, the reason is purely financial. With fluid milk sales (pasteurized and homogenized) steadily decreasing over the past few years , big dairy got scared. Why were people buying less conventional milk? And more importantly where were those lost dollars going?
To raw milk farmers, that is where. So how can big dairy recapture that revenue? By putting small raw milk farmers (and there are 100's of us in Illinois) out of business. That's how. Rocket Science it isn't.