Dairy farmer can keep milking

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SALEM, Ohio – A Darke County judge has ruled that milk producer Carol Schmitmeyer can continue operating as a Grade A dairy producer as long as no raw milk is distributed to her herd share customers.
Revoked. Schmitmeyer’s dairy license was revoked by the Ohio Department of Agriculture Sept. 28 after she allegedly violated several Ohio dairy laws, including processing milk without a processor’s license, selling raw milk and selling milk that wasn’t properly labeled.
The Darke County Common Pleas Court granted the temporary permit to continue operating and it will remain in effect until the court hears Schmitmeyer’s appeal regarding the order that revoked her license.
The ODA does not object to a conditional permit for the producer.
Schmitmeyer declined to comment on the temporary permit, saying attorneys are still working out some of the details.
Background. Schmitmeyer said she wasn’t selling raw milk, but had been providing it through herd share agreements with customers who paid a $50 membership fee to own a portion of the herd, plus a weekly $6 boarding fee. Although raw milk sales are illegal in Ohio, there is no law that prevents those who own dairy cattle from drinking the milk.
The ODA said the $6 boarding fee was actually the price of a gallon of raw milk.
Ohio dairy laws do allow farmers to sell milk directly to consumers if they are a licensed and inspected milk processor. They also have to meet labeling, pasteurization and other requirements.
Schmitmeyer, who had been using the herd share agreements for about one year, has been under investigation since January after two people who drank raw milk from her farm became ill with campylobacterosis, a sickness characterized by diarrhea, cramps and fever.
Tests. The dairy producer said her milk never tested positive for the bacteria.
Schmitmeyer and her husband, Paul, make a living on their 100-head dairy farm.
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at jskrinjar@farmanddairy.com.)

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