At a recent workshop on raw milk, food attorneys Jason Foscolo and Casey McCue with NYS Ag & Markets addressed the transport of raw milk when discussing the laws, regulations and restrictions involved with the sale of raw milk in New York State.
Foscolo spoke about some popular ways that raw milk producers try to evade prohibitions, including mislabeling raw milk and by claiming not being responsible due to “cow shares”.
“It is a real risk whether you like it or not,” stated Foscolo.
Foscolo commented that if folks were coming to see him, chances are it’s already too late. “Don’t shoot the messenger!” he added.
McCue pointed out that regulations specifically state that once a farm has acquired the proper permit to sell raw milk, only raw milk may be sold, not raw milk products. Other regulations state that proper, conspicuous signage must state that raw milk is being sold on the premises and does not provide the protection of pasteurization. Sampling and analysis requirements must be met, somatic cell counts must be below 750,000 for cows, farm sanitation requirements are strict, and bacteria standards are specific.
Persons selling raw milk are required to be continuously “enrolled in the Quality Milk Production Services milk sampling program to test for detection of pathogenic bacteria.”
Many other regulations and restrictions apply.
“The department uses only approved, validated methodologies,” McCue said. A press release is issued naming farms that are found to have sold raw milk causing illness.
Farm Family Insurance representative, James Bettini, discussed the requirements to obtain insurance coverage to sell raw milk. “It is difficult to obtain coverage,” Bettini said. “The potential for catastrophic loss is too great.” However, with costly premiums and proof of “time-tested experience”, it is possible to obtain coverage. “Insurance is becoming more difficult to obtain, not less,” Bettini admitted. “Food borne illnesses can come from many sources. Raw milk has a disproportionate risk of harm.” Bettini said some insurance companies may be willing to take the risk today, but withdraw their coverage tomorrow.
On day 2, tours of two raw milk producing farms concluded the workshop.
“The farm visits — and being able to see the farms currently in production — were extremely helpful,” said Matt Peck of Peck Farms LLC, Sprakers, NY. Peck is planning to produce certified raw milk in the near future.
“I was impressed that a SUNY school was able to host a Raw Milk Workshop,” commented attendee Chuck Phippen, organic raw milk producer and owner of Breese Hollow Dairy, Hoosick, NY.
Phippen says he obtained new information from Zurakowski (QMPS) and McCue (Ag & Markets). “I have been selling raw milk for 11 years, and have worked close with Quality Milk Services over these years. It would be great if we New Yorkers could sell as our neighbors to the east and south do.”
Montgomery County Dairy Ambassador and SUNY Cobleskill senior, Erika Gogis, who will be receiving her Bachelors Degree in Agricultural Business in May 2016, attended the workshop.
“I never really knew about these problems that have a huge effect on legally selling raw milk,” Gogis remarked. “For me, knowing virtually nothing about raw milk, it was a great learning experience. Getting different view points from both producers and legal representative allowed the audience to get a good gauge as to the dangers of selling raw milk and what farmers are doing to make raw milk safe for consumers.”
“During the two-day session there was no shortage of useful information,” agreed Peck. “It was a true learning experience!”