The number of dairy farms producing raw drinking milk for direct sale to consumers has grown from 114 in 2017 t0 166, a rise of 46% over the last two years.
It is against this background that the Raw Milk Producers Association (RMPA) was launched on 4 March by a group of dairy farmers currently producing and selling raw drinking milk direct to consumers. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has for some time planned to tighten controls over the sale of raw drinking milk which makes this a timely collaboration between producers who, working with the FSA, can ensure any new controls are reasonable and proportionate.
The sale of raw milk has soared in recent years. Licensed farmgate sales of raw milk are perfectly legal, but there is little official guidance or support for producers to support a consistent approach production standards, hygiene or microbiological testing.
The RMPA is unique in that it is the first to work in partnership with the domestic regulatory agency, the FSA. Historically there have been many raw milk producer groups formed around the world, but most have either not had the blessing of their country’s regulator or have worked in active opposition to the regulator. Jonny Crickmore, Chair of the RMPA, explained:
“We are keen to maintain a strong relationship with the FSA. The organisation strongly believes it is mutually educational and beneficial that raw milk producers, consumers and the government work together to bring better support and regulation to producers.”
The aims of the RMPA are to:
- Bring together raw milk producers, many of whom are geographically isolated, and provide networking and training opportunities.
- Provide official government-endorsed guidance to producers on production standards, dairy hygiene and microbiological testing.
- Provide a liaison service between raw milk producers and the government.
- Provide an online forum in which producers can share knowledge, experiences and support one another.
Any raw milk producer in the UK can join the RMPA and further information can be found on the RMPA website at www.rawmilkproducers.co.uk.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock recently came out in support of raw milk producers and criticised the Food Standards Agency for becoming “over-restrictive” in its approach and will no doubt welcome the establishment of the RMPA in the light of his comments.
Membership of the Association costs only £100 a year. Members have access to all the services offered by the Association, including reduced rates on workshops and training days, and a quarterly newsletter. Members also receive a free copy of a series of best practice guidance booklets on raw milk production written on behalf of the RMPA by two leading international experts, Dr Cat Berge and Prof Dr Ton Baars, along with input from industry specialists, raw milk producers and microbiologists.
The RMPA is presently offering three training days across the UK, featuring both Dr Berge and Prof Baars. These events will be in the North of England on 29 April, the Midlands on 1 May and the South of England on 3 May. The training days will help bring producers up to date with the FSA’s proposed changes to controls over the production of raw drinking milk, training in raw milk production best practice and provide networking opportunities.
This is an opportunity not to be missed if you are a producer of raw drinking milk.
More information is available from:
Jonathan Crickmore, Chair of the RMPA, telephone 01986 892350 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Christine Page, Secretary of the RMPA, telephone 01547 530955 or e-mail email@example.com
Tali Eichner, Membership Secretary of the RMPA, telephone 07840 542365 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org