Owners' move is a first, officials say
The decision by the Siskiyou Crest Goat Dairy owners to terminate their top-rated Grade A license to adopt an alternative ownership model marks a first for the Oregon Department of Agriculture, said agency director Katy Coba.
"We're not aware of anybody giving up a Grade A license in order to move in the direction the Siskiyou Crest dairy is moving," she said Monday in a telephone interview.
However, plenty of Oregon dairy owners over the years have given up their licenses when they were going out of business, she noted.
After reviewing the statute, her staff concluded that the herd-share program the dairy owners plan to practice is legal, she said.
Part of the agency's mission is food safety and consumer protection.
"They (dairy owners) have apparently chosen this direction because it removes the food safety inspection component," said Dalton Hobbs, the department's assistant director. "As long as the raw product is consumed by the shareholder, it would be permitted under Oregon law."
"That's as long as the product is consumed by the individual who owns the animal," Coba said. "They could not sell the product on the open market."
The raw product could no longer be sold at stores or elsewhere, she said.
Only those signing up for the herd share program to become owners of the farm animals would be eligible to buy the raw dairy products produced from them, she said.
Although noting she is not a scientist, Coba said pasteurization is used to kill harmful bacteria in milk that can cause illness in humans.
"From this point, we will not be going out to the Siskiyou Crest dairy to inspect their facility to ensure food safety," she said. "But we still have a role to play because of their confined animal feeding operation permits."
Department representatives would continue to ensure the requirements of that permit are met, she said.