Rules and costs over­whelm raw milk provider

Manawatu Standard - - NEWS - ILLYA MCLEL­LAN

The ‘‘rules, rules, rules and pa­per trails’’ in­volved with test­ing and reg­u­la­tion will force a pop­u­lar raw milk ven­dor to close eight months af­ter open­ing.

Cus­tomers rang­ing from older peo­ple look­ing for a nos­tal­gic hit to younger peo­ple who can­not be­lieve how dif­fer­ent raw milk tastes, buy about 100 litres a day from a vend­ing ma­chine near Carter­ton.

How­ever, the ser­vice will close on Fri­day, Septem­ber 22.

Op­er­a­tors Re­nee and Dave Smith said the amount of reg­u­la­tion and test­ing needed made it un­fea­si­ble to con­tinue pro­vid­ing the raw prod­uct.

Re­nee Smith said there was an up­date of reg­u­la­tions and guide­lines around raw milk pro­duc­tion just be­fore they started their op­er­a­tion in Jan­uary but they thought they would cope with the changes.

But the pa­per­work and ex­pense in­volved, when added to their stan­dard dairy­ing op­er­a­tion, ended up tak­ing a toll on their qual­ity of life.

They soon found they were miss­ing out on time with their chil­dren and some­times could not get a day off, she said.

‘‘It got to the point we were do­ing far more work on it than it was worth. We just wanted to give peo­ple a choice but it ended up be­com­ing too dif­fi­cult.

‘‘The costs got higher as well. I re­ceived a $1000 bill to­day that I wasn’t ex­pect­ing; ev­ery­thing has come to rules, rules, rules and pa­per trails.’’

Cus­tomer Jim Up­ward was sad to hear the news be­cause since the raw milk ven­dor had opened he had be­come used to hav­ing proper milk again.

Milk pro­cessed in fac­to­ries was put through pro­cesses that com­pletely changed it from what it was when it came out of the cow, he said.

Dave Smith said the reg­u­la­tion around raw milk was un­der­stand­ably com­pli­cated be­cause there was a need to make sure it was safe.

‘‘Since we started, the cost of test­ing in­creased and a raw milk levy for a few grand we weren’t even aware of started turn­ing up in the mail.’’

The Smiths be­lieved it would be pos­si­ble for some­one with a smaller scale farm to run the ven­ture and hoped some­one in Wairarapa might take it over.

A Min­istry of Pri­mary In­dus­tries spokes­woman said the reg­u­la­tions were in­tended to bet­ter man­age the health risks of raw milk.

‘‘MPI un­der­stands that the cost of ver­i­fi­ca­tion and com­pli­ance does have an im­pact on busi­nesses. How­ever we can’t take short cuts on our food safety sys­tem be­cause it pro­vides for the safety of con­sumers and New Zealand’s rep­u­ta­tion as a pro­ducer of safe food.’’

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