Rules and costs overwhelm raw milk provider
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.’’