Alaska’s Last Dairy Could Face Turmoil Due to State Budget Cuts

Alaska’s last dairy farm, Havemeister Dairy, is facing an uncertain future after Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced a new budget proposal that could eliminate funding for dairy regulation. 

According to Alaska’s administration, the 49th state could save an estimated $180,000 by eliminating the state’s dairy program. For Havemeister Dairy, however, cutting state funding would mean that the farm would lose their state milk inspector, forcing them to lose their Grade A status.

"We're a Grade A facility, so if we don't have someone to inspect our facility, we can't maintain Grade A," Ty Havemeister, Havemeister Dairy’s owner, told KTUU News. "Which means I won't be able to ship milk to the store, so that would be the end of us."

As stated in the federal Pasteurized Milk Ordinance, Grade A dairy facilities are required to be inspected once every six months by a licensed inspector. Failing to complete these routine inspections would cause the dairy to forfeit their Grade A status and revoke several permits   

“There are federal regulations,” Havemeister told KTVA News. “I cannot inspect myself, I cannot pay someone to inspect me. The state has to do that.”

In a budget overview produced for the legislature by the administration, the state notes that "Alaska's dairy industry has declined from 65 dairies to one operating bovine dairy today," and the "Federally required program requires significant state subsidization."

“Eliminating the dairy program will not increase risk to public health, as unregulated milk will not enter the market," the proposal states. "Those wishing to purchase local milk will still be able acquire raw milk through a cow-share program.”

However, Havemeister said selling raw milk or participating in a “cow-share” program is not a realistic option. 

“We are going to continue to put milk on the shelf and push for some sort of resolution,” the farm reported on their Facebook Page.

"At this point in time, I'm pretty confident that the legislature's going to come through," Havemeister told KTUU News. "They'll figure something out and this will all work out."

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