Aug. 21, 2005 – "St. Croix has the cows. We should have the milk certification laboratory." That's what Team St. Croix member Yoki Hanley said last week during a recent meeting of the organization, which is a coalition of community activist groups. Team St. Croix President Sam Baptiste said that securing the milk lab on St. Croix was as an agenda item to be accomplished this year.
Hanley said that equipment is sitting on St. Thomas getting rusty while there are buildings on St. Croix ready to receive it so a laboratory can become operational.
She said that over 80 percent of the milk processing is done on St. Croix and it just makes sense economically and practically to have the laboratory on St. Croix. She said when samples are sent to different islands, they sometimes end up sitting on docks for long periods and even missing transfer points.
A milk certification laboratory has not been located in the Virgin Islands since 1983. Hanley said that Island Dairies lost its contract to serve cruise ships with milk because there was no way to get their milk certified consistently. (See "Lack of Access to Testing Costs Dairy Dearly")
In April, the Senate passed a $75,000 appropriation to establish a government milk-rating system. At that time the loss of the cruise industry market, according to St. Thomas Dairies company president Fred Hintz, was costing St. Thomas Dairies "about $1 million in sales."
(See "Senate Passes Many Measures in Session's 2nd Day").
Baptiste says the group supports the drive to have the laboratory on St. Croix.
Hanley was circulating a petition at the Wednesday meeting. It asked that the laboratory be up and running by November of this year.
Petitions can be signed at the offices of Sens. Terrence "Positive" Nelson and Neville James or at the office of the USVI Coalition for Sustainable Economic Development at 3C Strand Street in Frederiksted.
Robert C. Siebengartner, who was at the Team St. Croix meeting promoting his plans for an inter-island ferry services, was told by Baptiste that members looked forward to taking an inaugural cruise with the ferry in November. Siebengartner replied, "That will be great and we will all be drinking milk certified on St. Croix."
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