Review may allow milk sales at farm gate

NICOLA BOYES
Last updated 05:00 26/03/2011

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More consumers could soon switch supermarket aisles for country roads to buy unpasteurised milk straight from the farmer's gate.

As Fonterra freezes the rocketing price of supermarket milk, MAF officials are reviewing the rules around farm-gate milk sales, which may make it easier to sell milk directly from the vat.

For the past four years Hamilton woman Noelene Mutch has been buying unpasteurised milk for her family of five from Waitetuna organic farmer Mike Moss. She pays $2 a litre and she believes the unpasteurised milk has more health benefits.

The organic pasteurised product is selling on the supermarket shelf for between $3.50 and $3.60 a litre.

MAF's review will look at the human disease evidence associated with raw milk and raw milk cheeses and whether rules around supply from the farm gate should be relaxed.

The Food Act allows producers with an approved risk management plan to sell up to five litres of unpasteurised milk a time to people who intend to consume it themselves.

Mr Moss, who farms 130 cows on 65 hectares, supplying Fonterra's organic operation, said he would welcome any changes which made it easier for farmers to sell milk from the gate.

"It is an option which has been overlooked in the whole discussion around the price of milk in supermarkets. People could ask their local farmer if they would consider supplying it."

Mr Moss said he would like to be able to supply the Hamilton Farmers Market but he had not found a way to work with the regulations to do that.

"The people who are seeking it out are passionate about food, they're wanting access to the raw product."

Jonathan Walker has been buying from Mr Moss for three years.

"I buy it because I'm not convinced it's healthy to drink homogenised milk. I love the fact it tastes like milk."

Waikato Federated Farmers president Stew Wadey said there may be scope for farmers to sell from the gate but he said it was unlikely many would. "Farmers take milk home from the vat. They have always done that and there are rules which allow it now."

Federated Farmers this week blamed supermarkets for the price of milk. In Australia, price wars had forced the price down to AU$1 per litre and the lobby group said the same would happen here if there were more players in the supermarket trade.

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- Waikato Times

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