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South Dakota Milk Producers Under Fire By Department of Agriculture

South Dakota Dairy Farmers - Not Qualified - Can't Meet Corporate

By Black Hills Today

Publishers Note: Dear readers the following letter was mailed to me from Lila Streff of Streff Ridge Farm Goat Dairy in Custer South Dakota.  I find this letter to be one of the most critical letters to the editor I have received in years and highly recommend you read it in its entirety.

I am the youngest of 10 children raised in the country on real food. We had a huge garden, raised our own beef, chickens, and even a pig once. Of course we had eggs from free-range chickens, we made bread everyday, and milked cows and goats. The goats were added to the farm when I was born.

My wonderful mom, who is 85 years old now, nearly died having me. She lived through it, Praise God, but after hemorrhaging so badly, she could not breast feed me. Doctors tried every different kind of formula and store produced milk that they could find , but  I couldn’t keep any of it down. Basically I was dying, is what the doctors said. Then one doctor said he thought goat’s milk might be my last hope. My parents purchased a goat and as I thrived, my whole family was also blessed with goat’s milk from that day on. We all grew up milking goats and cows learning many valuable lessons from farm life. We sold and shared milk with a whole lot of people.

My mom became the “goat lady” in our area. There were so many “real- life” stories of how people were helped by this unique commodity. Mostly I heard of those who had babies that needed it as I did. Goat’s milk digests in about 20 minutes and the nutrients are “bio-available” or “readily accessible”. Then there were those who had ulcers and found immediate relief. Goat’s milk has Alkaline Ash in it that neutralizes the acid in the stomach so that an ulcer can heal. This raw milk helped so many people. I never ever heard of anyone who got sick from it.

At the age of 18, I went away to college to major in vocal music. This was when I was first introduced to “pasteurized milk”. I remember my strong dislike to the taste at first, but being a milk drinker, my taste buds finally adapted. It took me 20 years however, to figure out that the rest of my body didn’t do so well with pasteurized milk. I encountered regular stomach aches right away blaming it on being homesick, eating different foods and the stresses of studying so much. It became a normal routine to take antacids and I washed down spoonfuls of baking soda with glasses of water. I also developed sinus problems which as a vocal major was messing things up. As soon as spring hit that year, I was hit with what I thought was an ongoing cold. Finally it dawned on me that I had hay fever and other weird allergies showing up for the first time in my life. I began taking over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants that would cover every hour. Eventually none of these helped anymore. Three years later when I got married, my allergies were so bad, that a doctor gave me a prescription for prednisone. I finally found some relief, but couldn’t take that forever, so I was put on a cortisone nasal spray which alleviated the symptoms greatly.

During the next 4 years, my husband and I had moved into a mobile home on my parent’s property and brought 3 sweet little babies into the world. I didn’t like using the nasal sprays while being pregnant, so I suffered a lot. I had become a born-again Christian and began desperately praying that God would deliver me from the miserable hay fever and stomach ailments. I was frustrated and angry at times when I didn’t see Him healing me. Interestingly enough, my mom was still milking goats right next door and offered us all the free milk we wanted. We were used to the “town” stuff now and refused it, though I did give it to my babies because formulas and “town” milk made them spit up so badly. Somehow I missed what God was providing for me.

By the time I had my 4th baby, I was homeschooling and we had outgrown our little trailer. We bought some beautiful Black Hills property and built our own home. My husband had grown up much differently than I did. He was raised on main street in town and now worked in an office on computers, but I put him to work digging our own garden spot, building chicken coupes and a little barn for our son’s pet pygmy goats. I was a country girl at heart and my husband was seeing more and more of this surfacing now. I had a growing desire to live off the land.

When our 6th child was two years old, my allergies were so bad that I coul d hardly even be outside to enjoy the gardening or animals. I also was becoming very sick in many other ways too, including extreme headaches. Finally I was diagnosed with a large brain tumor the size of a grapefruit and was rushed to surgery. It was a meningioma that wasn’t cancerous, but it took a full year to recover from the surgery. Doctors really can’t give a patient a clear-cut prognosis for recovery from this, so you just live day-to-day wondering “when” and “if” all of the numerous “nightmare” type symptoms will go away. However, today (four years later), I feel basically normal except for some hearing loss. I am thankful for how I have healed. Neurologists who have looked at my MRI and Cat-scan pictures say that it’s a miracle that I am alive –much less that I can walk and talk.

Goats Raw Milk is Good For HealthOne year after my surgery, I realized that our 6 year old son was allergic to the cow’s milk that we had been purchasing at the store (pasteurized, of course). He had been severely constipated since he was a baby. A friend of mine had recently been informed by a specialist that her son had an allergy to cow’s milk. His symptoms were identical to my son’s.  It suddenly dawned on me that my son had been needing goat’s milk just as I did as a baby. I wasn’t interested in having dairy goats that you had to milk morning and night, but as several events conspired, I was convinced that this was my calling—that God had raised me up to do this. I prayed about it a lot and then visited with my husband about getting just one goat to milk. Next, a friend who enjoys organic and healthy foods asked if I had ever considered milking goats. She was not aware that I was already praying about this. Then I stumbled across a scripture in the Bible, Proverbs 27:27 that says, “You shall have enough goat’s milk for your food, the food of your household and the nourishment of your maidservants.”  Oh, how I didn’t want to be tied down to this; I had grown up with the chore of milking morning and night. I knew what this would mean, but I also knew what God was telling me. Goat’s milk had saved my life and now it was time to help provide it for the health of others.

In late August of that year, I bought Ginger, a Toggenburg goat. My son’s allergies were relieved immediately and so were mine. My hay fever and sto mach problems were gone.  After people heard that I was milking goats and had raw milk, they wanted this milk too. Some people were sick and dealing with health issues. Others wanted it because they are sick “of” the pasteurized product from the store. They were also deeply concerned about the hormones that were given to cows, and they wanted a healthy alternative. I hated turning people down and was compelled to find and purchase more goats. At 42 years old, I became the new “goat lady” in our area.


Small Business Under Fire????

Streff Ridge Farm Goat Dairy - New Barn

In September, two Nubians were added to the farm and then in October, four Saanens from Iowa were added. Within two years, I was milking 14 goats. My barn was a little shack basically with no electricity, running water or heat, and it had a dirt floor. Though I was animate about producing a good tasting, clean product – it was not sufficient enough to me.  I had to carry the 4 gallons of milk back to the house where I strained it and cooled it. At this time, I began getting a clear vision of a new barn and its entire layout. This would be very costly – could I do this? Again I was praying fervently. One thing that came to me was that if I were to spend this much money ($85,000), I better check with the state to see what the legalities were.  

The SD Department of Agriculture informed me that under the current laws, I could legally sell “raw” milk if I labeled it as such. I was set to go, but I wanted their advice on building my barn so that it would meet Grade A dairy specs. They were very helpful and I proceeded to build a barn to meet the standards that they advised. It includes a large kitchen (16’ x 18’) with a triple stainless steel sink, cement floors, etc... The milking parlor has four custom stanchions each with four headlocks so that I can bring in 16 goats at a time. I also have milking machines now. Yay!

Raw Milk is Good For South DakotaWell, a few months after I began enjoying my most beautiful barn, (and willingly spending every last penny to make the payments on it), the Dept of Ag decided that their interpretation of the law went a little deeper. They decided that I also had to pass an inspection and get a permit. So I worked with them, jumping through a few more hoops, passed their inspection, and got a permit. All the while I am wondering though ---why do I have to have permission to do this in a free country? Why is it their business? I have done the thorough research on goat’s milk and its benefits; and scientist have proven that raw milk is truly safe because of the good bacteria, and other built–in safety factors that were added by the Author of life Himself. Safety factors include Lactoperoxidase - an enzyme which cleanses the milk from pathogens, and Lactoferrin- a protein which has antibacterial/anti-fungal properties against pathogens such as E-coli 0157:H7. I have also seen the “real –life “ studies of how raw milk is life-giving and pasteurized milk actually makes people sick.  Naively, I was surprised to find out that the people of the Dept of Ag just can’t believe this. They actually believe that pasteurized (cooked) milk is better and safer –which it is not.  They also believe that it is their job to “police” raw milk. Do they really believe that people aren’t wise enough to observe where they purchase what they consume?

Very Clean Milk ParlorNow, six months later, the Dept of Ag has decided that the existing laws still just don’t cover all of the standards that they see fit for what they call the “fears of Raw Milk”. So they have introduced some new rules. Guess what? My barn isn’t adequate anymore. I would have to build another building to house an expensive bottling machine (which I would have to purchase also). I would also have to submit numerous tests that don’t apply to the big dairies. These tests would not only be expensive, but nearly impossible to pass.

The new proposed milk rules (supposedly) are to make selling raw milk legal in SD. However, the stipulations are so strict, that the producers of raw milk will not be able to afford to offer it. We were given just a few weeks to scramble our resources before the hearing on Nov. 17th , 2009 in Pierre, SD . About 25 -30 raw milk producers and customers showed up at the hearing to oppose the new rules. Then there was a 10 day window for the public to write letters. The closing day was the day after Thanksgiving, so we lost a few days in the postal service due to the holiday.

Now we are waiting in SD for the Dept of Ag to make their decision so that we can defend our rights at the next hearing before the Rules Review Committee. The original date for this hearing was Dec.15th,  but it got moved to Dec. 21st  which is the Monday before Christmas and (interestingly enough) the same date as the big Wisconsin raw milk hearing/ rally..

As I have become more involved in this, I have come to the conclusion that it isn’t about the benefits of Raw milk –vs- pasteurized milk at all. You see, we weren’t even supposed to bring those pertinent issues up at the hearing. This is because there is way too much proof that raw milk is healthy and safe----and pasteurized milk is neither. This is really about government regulations and who controls our commodities. Our health is our food and someone wants to control all of this.

I am now being led to ask all kinds of questions that every American should be asking. Are we to be forced into eating foods that cause diseases? Do the people of a free nation (this free nation) still have the right to pursue happiness and their health? Who is behind all of this? I am wondering: even if the SD Department of Agriculture really hears our cry, can they make a decision of their own? Do they represent the desires of the people of SD or are they being influenced by some big corporation or entity? Where does this agenda to rid the small dairies who provide raw milk really originate, because this fight is being seen in every state of our free nation.

In summary: 
I found out that many of those holding offices in the SD Department of Ag actually grew up on farms enjoying the benefits of raw milk. I am praying that they will find it in their consciences to override any outside pressures of big business and the lies thereof and make the right decisions; Decisions that protect the people from big government; Decisions that protect our freedoms and our health. I am praying that the SD Department of Agriculture and the current administration will listen to the “public outcry” for freedom, and that they be a leader setting precedence for all of the states -that they can make an independent decision that represents the people for which they are being paid to represent.  

I challenge all concerned citizens to contact the South Dakota Governor's office to stop this whole process.  Tell them you support the sale of Raw Milk and to stop the over regulation of family farms.

Contact Governor Rounds
Office of the Governor
500 E. Capitol Ave.
Pierre, SD57501
Lila Streff
Streff Ridge Farm Goat Dairy 
12376 Beaver Den Dr
Custer, SD 57730

State of South Dakota Dairy Division Contact Information:
Keven Fridley, Division Director of Agricultural Services for Dairy: Email: [email protected]
Darwin Kurtenbach. Administrator for the South Dakota State Department of Agriculture dairy program - 523 East Capitol, Foss Building. Pierre, SD 57501-3182. (605) 773-3724. (605) 773-3481.His email address: [email protected]
William Even. Secretary of Agriculture for the State of South Dakota
Email address: [email protected]
Written correspondence can be sent to:
South Dakota Department of Agriculture
Division of Agriculture Services
Dairy & Egg Office
523 E. Capitol Ave.
Pierre, SD 57501


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