Farm dairies

If you're a dairy farmer, sharemilker, dairy farm manager or dairy farm operator, you need to understand and meet your legal requirements.

Farm dairy owners and operators have legal obligations and duties under:

  • the Animal Products Act (APA) 1999
  • Animal Products (Dairy) Regulations 2005.

A farm dairy operator is a person, company or organisation responsible for some or all of the activities at a farm dairy. This may be one person or multiple people or organisations.

Farm dairy assessors, MPI-recognised farm dairy RMP evaluators and verifiers, and other people and organisations who have an interest in supporting dairy farmers in the production and harvesting of milk, also need to know the legal requirements for dairy operations.

Learn about the legal requirements for farm dairies:

Under the APA, all farm dairy operators must operate under an MPI-registered risk management programme (RMP). The RMP must be verified by an agency recognised by MPI, and the farm dairy must be audited by a farm dairy assessor.

Find out more about developing and registering an RMP or using a template RMP:

RMPs for dairies

Agreements with RMP-registered dairy companies

In most cases, the dairy company you supply milk to is registered as the farm dairy RMP operator. To ensure you meet minimum food safety requirements, they issue you with:

  • a milk supplier's handbook
  • a milk supply contract or terms and conditions of supply, which describe what you need to do to meet minimum food safety requirements.

Companies may set out extra requirements to meet:

  • the requirements of specific countries they're exporting to
  • other legal and commercial obligations.

Harvesting milk for multiple activities

Your RMP for milk harvesting activities must cover all intended uses of the milk you harvest. For example, if you supply some of the milk to a manufacturing company such as Fonterra or Westland and you retain some to manufacture products such as cheese on your own farm, you need to cover this activity in your own RMP.

The RMP owned and managed by the manufacturing company may not meet all of your regulatory requirements. If you're unsure whether you need your own RMP, contact us:


Design and operation of farm dairies

If you produce raw milk, including colostrum, that's intended for further processing, you need to comply with a code of practice (COP) for the design and operation of your dairy. The COP sets out the requirements for farm dairy operators as well as for anyone involved in the design and construction of farm dairies, supply and maintenance of equipment, or supporting activities at the farm dairy.

Read the COP for the design and operation of farm dairies:

Dairy – NZCP1: Design and operation of farm dairies COP [PDF, 1.1 MB] 

Assessment of farm dairies

All farm dairies must have an RMP that describes the system for assessing the farm dairy. NZCP2: Code of practice (COP) for the assessment of farm dairies sets out the requirements and procedures for assessing farm dairies. 

If you're a farm dairy assessor, farm dairy RMP verifier or RMP operator, this COP may also apply to you. RMP operators may use this COP to meet their farm dairy assessment obligations, or develop their own system or protocol. Any self-developed assessment system needs to be evaluated as part of the RMP. 

Read about the COP for assessing farm dairies:

NZCP2: Code of practice for assessment of farm dairies [PDF, 597 KB] 

Verification of farm dairy risk management programmes

The harvesting, filtering, cooling and storage activities at farm dairies are required to be covered by an appropriate risk management programme (RMP). Independent verification of the RMP by an MPI recognised verifier is one of the key methods used to confirm that the RMP is fit for purpose, that the measures applied by the RMP are adequate and practical, and that the RMP operator is applying the RMP effectively. Verification will also determine whether the farm dairy operators covered by the RMP are meeting their obligations.

The MPI guidance document Farm dairies RMP verification describes the role of verification and aspects that are specific to farm dairies and farm dairy RMPs. The guidance also clarifies the role of RMP verification as opposed to farm dairy assessment. 

Farm dairies RMP verification guidance document [PDF, 512 KB]

Using chemicals in a farm dairy

Chemicals used in the farm dairy, including detergents and sanitisers, must be approved by MPI. They are sometimes known as maintenance compounds.

The label should state that the chemical has been approved by either MAF, NZFSA or MPI for use in farm dairies.

See the full register of approved dairy maintenance compounds:

Register of approved and recognised dairy maintenance compounds [XLSX, 1.1 MB]

MPI register of alternative premises and equipment designs for farm dairies

Premises (including animal housing), facilities, equipment and essential services must meet the requirements of NZCP1: Code of practice (COP) for the design and operation of farm dairies.

However, Clause 3.10: Alternative premises and equipment designs of the COP enables 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 COP was drafted.

Novel technologies and alternative premises and equipment designs that do not meet the requirements of NZCP1 are considered suitable if they have been assessed, confirmed as acceptable and listed on MPI's Register of Alternative Premises and Equipment Designs for Farm Dairies.

The listing will state:

  • 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
  • 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 declined.

Before they commit to any novel technology, new premises, facilities, equipment or services design, farm dairy operators should consult this register, along with their farm dairy assessor and dairy company representative:

Register of alternative premises and equipment designs for farm dairies [XLS, 49 KB]

Contaminated milk

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 – for example, if there is a lock on the vat and clear signage near the vat outlet that the milk is not for collection.

Guidance for the collection of raw milk not intended for supply [PDF, 156 KB]

MPI testing for contamination

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 300 compounds. Any detection of chemicals above acceptable limits has serious consequences for both the individual supplier and the company processing the milk.

Find out more about MPI's programme for monitoring and testing milk:

National Chemical Contaminants Programme (NCCP)

Harvesting milk for raw milk products

There are extra requirements for farm dairies intending to supply raw milk for dairy products.

Your risk management programme (RMP) must address these measures so that it covers raw milk for the manufacture of raw milk products.

Read the requirements for raw milk supply:

Animal Products (Raw Milk Products Specifications) Notice 2009  [PDF, 81 KB]

A COP can help you meet the requirements of the Notice. An RMP or RMP amendment that follows the provisions of the COP is likely to move smoothly through evaluation and registration.

Dairy – Additional measures for raw milk products COP  [PDF, 175 KB]

Food safety risks in raw milk

If you're a processor interested in raw milk products, learn about the potential hazards from pathogens in raw milk produced in New Zealand:

Consideration of on-farm provisions for raw milk production [PDF, 196 KB]

Find out how to manage health risks associated with raw milk:

Selling raw milk to consumers

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