Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Pennsylvania Dept of Ag releases new raw milk guidelines
Last week, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture released its new guidelines for the production and sale of raw milk. My home is one of just ten states where it is legal for farmers to sell raw, unpasteurized milk from their cows. Penn State University's Department of Animal Sciences has also released an explanation of the official guidelines.
Highlights of this document for milk producers:
-Raw milk permits begin 1 September and end 31 August, and need to be renewed each year.
-You don't need state-regulated milk bottling equipment on your own farm, if customers bring their own containers.
-Your farm's water supply must be tested. Probably something you should be doing anyway, what with all the Marcellus Shale fracking going on.
-Advertising, delivering, or exchanging raw milk is considered "selling" under the law, and doing any of these things without a permit carries a stiff penalty.
-Your Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture played a big role in making this legislation possible, so thank them!
Highlights for consumers:
-Raw milk sold by Pennsylvania permit holders is randomly tested for several different types of bacteria throughout the year. This gives you more assurance that the milk you buy is safe to drink than many other distribution programs can offer.
-Cows whose raw milk will be sold for human consumption must be tested annually for several different bovine diseases and certified healthy by a veterinarian, a requirement that pasteurized milk producers do not have to meet.
-Pennsylvania raw milk is also tested for pesticide residue, an assurance you can't get from even most organic produce.
-You can check the permit status of a PA raw milk dairy online at any time.