Farm dairy operators and milk harvesters
If a farm dairy operator or milk harvester is confirmed to be COVID-19 positive, Ministry of Health requirements must be followed to minimise the risk of transmission to other staff or visitors to the farm dairy.
Normal food safety and hygiene practices, including heat treatment, should be followed when receiving milk from all suppliers.
Farm dairy assessments
For information about farm dairy assessment and support under the COVID-19 Protection Framework (the traffic light system), refer to the web page on risk management programmes for farm dairies
Laws that apply to farm dairies
Farm dairy owners and operators have legal obligations and duties under the Animal Products Act (APA) 1999 and the Animal Products Regulations 2021.
Who the laws cover
A farm dairy operator is a person, company, or organisation responsible for some or all of the activities at a farm dairy.
Other people who also need to know the legal requirements for farm dairy operations include:
- farm dairy risk management programme operators
- farm dairy assessors
- recognised farm dairy risk management programme (RMP) evaluators and verifiers
- manufacturers and suppliers of maintenance compounds
- milking machine testers
- other people and organisations who have an interest in supporting dairy farmers in the production and harvesting of milk.
Farm dairy operators must have an RMP
Under the APA, all farm dairy operators must operate under a risk management programme (RMP). This covers the harvesting, filtering, cooling, and storage activities at the farm dairy.
If you supply milk to a dairy company
In most cases, the dairy company you supply milk to will be registered as the farm dairy RMP operator. If this is the case, they will provide you with a:
- milk supplier's handbook
- milk supply contract or terms and conditions of supply.
These describe what you need to do to meet minimum food safety requirements.
Companies may set out extra requirements, so they can:
- meet the requirements of specific countries they're exporting to
- fulfil other legal or commercial obligations.
If you supply a dairy company but also process some of your own milk
Your RMP for milk harvesting activities must cover all intended uses of the milk you harvest. For example, if you supply some milk to a manufacturing company such as Fonterra, and you keep some to make products such as cheese on your own farm, you will need to have your own RMP to cover this activity.
If you're not sure whether you need your own RMP, email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you supply milk for raw milk products
If you supply milk for the manufacture of raw milk products (such as raw milk cheeses), there are extra requirements your RMP will need to meet. These are covered in an animal products notice. The code of practice can help you to write an RMP that will meet the requirements of the notice.
Selling raw drinking milk to consumers
Farmers can sell raw drinking milk directly to consumers at their farm or by home delivery. If you do this, there are food safety requirements you must meet to minimise any risks to public health.
Design and operation of farm dairies
If you produce raw milk (including colostrum) that's intended for further processing, you need to comply with the code of practice for the design and operation of your dairy. The code sets out the requirements for farm dairy operators, and anyone else involved in the:
- design and construction of farm dairies
- supply and maintenance of equipment
- supporting activities at the farm dairy.
Alternative dairy premises and equipment designs
Clause 3.10 of NZCP1 – "Alternative premises and equipment designs" – allows new technologies and novel designs to be assessed on the basis that they are often complete systems and may not have been contemplated when the code of practice was first written.
Novel technologies and alternative premises and equipment designs that don't meet NZCP1 requirements are considered suitable if they have been:
- assessed and confirmed as acceptable, and
- listed on our register.
Each listing on the register includes the following information:
- whether the designs and technologies have been assessed by MPI as suitable for the specified purpose
- any conditions on use or operating considerations that apply
- any restrictions on location, construction, installation or use that have been imposed.
The register will also show whether the listing is:
- provisional (for example, to facilitate on-farm trials)
- on hold (awaiting further data before a determination can be made)
- approved (accepted as a suitable alternative), or
If you're a farm dairy operator, we recommend you consult this register – along with your farm dairy assessor and dairy company representative – before committing to any novel technology, new premises, facilities, equipment, or services design.
Requesting MPI approval
If you want to request MPI approval for new technologies, or alternative premises and equipment designs, apply using the form and follow the procedure document.
Chemicals used in farm dairies
Chemicals used in a farm dairy, such as detergents and sanitisers, are known as "dairy maintenance compounds". These must be approved by MPI. The label should state that the chemical has been approved by MPI for use in farm dairies.
What to do if you suspect milk is contaminated
If you're concerned that milk in your bulk milk tank may be contaminated in any way, you must:
- advise your dairy company immediately
- remove the milk from the vat as soon as possible.
Milk in the bulk milk tank is assumed to be safe, suitable, and available for collection unless steps have been taken to disable collection. Such steps might include:
- a lock on the vat
- clear signage near the vat outlet that the milk is not for collection.
MPI milk monitoring programme
As well as the routine testing of tankers and individual farm milk supplies by dairy companies, MPI operates a national programme to monitor chemical residues and contaminants in milk on farms. This programme screens for more than 500 compounds. Any detection of chemicals above acceptable limits has serious consequences for both the individual supplier and the company processing the milk.
Who to contact
If you have questions about farm dairies, email email@example.com