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State continues push for raw-milk rules

By Bob Mercer

Capitol Correspondent

PIERRE -- The state Department of Agriculture isn't backing down from its goal to require better labeling including freshness dates on raw milk sold commercially in South Dakota.

Department officials plan another public hearing, this time on Oct. 9, in hope of getting the labeling rules into effect yet this year.

Last month, the Legislature's rules review committee refused on a 3-2 vote to accept the proposed rules.

One reason for the rejection was the department hadn't adequately researched the potential expense to raw-milk producers for labeling.

The proposed rules that will be presented at the Oct. 9 hearing are the same as those sent to the review committee, according to Courtney De La Rosa, a lawyer for the department.

Public comments will be received by the department through Oct. 21.

There are five raw-milk producers who offer products for sales, according to the department.

Financial forms the department is required to file under state law say the labels can be handwritten if they are legible and clearly visible to consumers and the cost of labeling will be "minimal" at a penny per label.

The hearing will be at the state Capitol in room 412 starting at 10 a.m.

Several raw-milk producers, a variety of consumers and the Dakota Rural Action organization have been strongly opposed to the rules.