The South Dakota Department of Agriculture has been revising the state rules that apply to raw milk, and the updated rules go into effect December 11.
Black Hills Milk, the dairy farm near Belle Fourche, has been supplying raw milk to customers for several years. Now they must find a new way to deliver raw milk to their loyal customers and still stay in business.
They are considering herd shares. A customer would buy a share of the farm’s Holstein herd and thus bypass the state rules.
Here’s the definition of herd shares from the Campaign for Real Milk website:
“In a cowshare, goatshare, or herdshare agreement, consumers pay a farmer a fee for boarding their cow or goat, (or share of a cow or goat), caring for the cow or goat, and milking the cow or goat. The herdshare owner then obtains (but does not purchase) the milk from his own cow or goat.”
Black Hills Milk owners John and Dawn Habeck sent us this info:
For those still interested in herd shares, we have prepared contracts and information sheets for you to check out. You can e-mail and receive them electronically, or I can send them to you in the mail, or you can pick up copies in the Spearfish store. Breadroot Cooperative has information sheets available as well. I have the final copies done today and they are detailed and self-explanatory if you read all of them.
The problem with downsizing is that any time less milk is sold, fixed costs must be spread over a smaller income. Cows have to eat and have their basic needs met whether milk from them gets paid for or not. The electric bill doesn’t get any smaller at our barn either.
December 2013 will be a trial month for herd shares. If herd shares do not work in December 2013, the one-time non-refundable herd share fee will be refunded in January 2014. Otherwise, they will continue until June or July 2014, and the herd share fee will not be refunded. After July 2014 shareholders would need to purchase their own cow or find another raw milk source.
We are hoping for several people in a wide variety of areas to start up herd shares. There are a few who have started already. We will update you whenever we have solid info on this. We know of a great Jersey herd in Sturgis that has cows available if anyone is interested.
Anyone interested in herd shares can contact the Habecks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rapid City Journal has more on the new rules and how they affect Black Hills Milk. You can read it here.