Farm dairies

If you are a dairy farmer, sharemilker, dairy farm manager, farm dairy operator, this page can help you understand and meet your legal requirements.

The information here is also intended to be relevant to 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.

Definition – dairy farm operator

A farm dairy operator is a person, company or organisation responsible for some or all activities at a farm dairy. In some cases this may be one person and in others cases multiple people or organisations.

Meeting the requirements

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

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

New Zealand Legislation: Animal Products Act 1999 (External website)

New Zealand Legislation: Animal Products (Dairy) Regulations 2005 (External website)

Under the APA, all farm dairy operators are required to operate under a 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.

You can find out more about developing and registering an RMP or using a template RMP on the page, RMPs for farm dairies, in the left-hand menu.

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 the following:

  • a milk supplier's handbook
  • a milk supply contract or terms and conditions of supply that describe what you must do in order to meet minimum food safety requirements.

In order to facilitate trade, companies may set out additional requirements to satisfy:

  • the requirements of specific countries they are exporting to
  • other legal and commercial obligations

Harvesting milk for multiple activities

Your RMP for milk harvesting activities must cover all intended used of the milk you harvest. That is, 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 be sufficient to meet all your regulatory requirements. If you are unsure whether you need your own RMP, contact MPI for clarification using the email contact in the panel at the right.

Design and operation of farm dairies

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

Dairy - NZCP1: Design and operation of farm dairies - Code of Practice

Assessment of farm dairies

All farm dairies must come under a RMP that describes the system for assessment of the farm dairies. NZCP2: Code of Practice for the Assessment of Farm Dairies sets out requirements and procedures for the assessment of farm dairies. RMP operators may refer to this Code as a means of satisfying their farm dairy assessment obligations, or may develop their own system or protocol. However any self developed assessment system will need to be evaluated as part of the RMP.  If you are a farm dairy assessor, farm dairy RMP verifier or a RMP operator then this code may apply to you.

NZCP2: Code of Practice for the Assessment of Farm Dairies

Using chemicals in the farm dairy

Chemicals used in the farm dairy, including detergents and sanitisers, must be approved by MPI. These 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. Alternatively, you can refer to the full register of approved dairy maintenance compounds.

Register of approved & recognised dairy maintenance compounds (72 KB XLS)

MPI Register of Alternative Premises and Equipment Designs for Farm Dairies

Premises (including animal housing), facilities, equipment and essential services are required to meet the requirements set out in NZCP1: Code of Practice for the Design and Operation of Farm Dairies. However, there is provision within the Code (clause 3.10 Alternative Premises and Equipment Designs) that enables new technologies and novel designs to be assessed on the basis that these are often complete systems and may not have been contemplated when the Code was drafted.

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

  1. designs and technologies that have been assessed by MPI; as suitable for the specified purpose;
  2. the outcome of the MPI assessment, including any conditions on use or operating considerations that may apply;
  3. any restrictions on location, construction, installation or use that may have been imposed; and
  4. whether or not 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 committing to any novel technology, new premises, facilities, equipment or services design, it is recommended that Farm Dairy Operators consult this register as well as their Farm Dairy Assessor and dairy company representative.

MPI Register of Alternative Premises and Equipment Designs for Farm Dairies (32 KB PDF)

If milk is contaminated

If you are concerned that milk in your bulk milk tank may be contaminated in any way, then 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.

MPI testing for contamination

In addition to the routine testing of tankers and individual farm milk supplies by dairy companies, MPI also operates a national programme that monitors chemical residues and contaminants in milk on farms. This programme screens for over 300 compounds and any detection of chemicals above acceptable limits has serious consequences for both the individual supplier and the company processing the milk.

To find more information click on Monitoring & testing, in the left-hand menu, then NCCP.

Harvesting milk for raw milk products

In addition to the general requirements for farm dairies, MPI have set out additional requirements that must be taken into account if you intend to supply raw milk for raw milk products.

Raw milk products RMP and COP

Your RMP must address additional measures so it covers raw milk for the manufacture of raw milk products. You can find the requirements in the following Notice.

Animal Products (Raw Milk Products Specifications) Notice 2009 (77 KB PDF)

A Code of Practice (COP) can help you meet the requirements of the Notice. An RMP or RMP amendment that follows the provisions in the COP can expect to move through evaluation and registration unimpeded.

Dairy - Additional Measures for Raw Milk Products - Code of Practice

Food safety risks in raw milk

If you are a processor interested in raw milk products, this report provides background information about the potential hazards from pathogens in raw milk produced in New Zealand.

Consideration of on farm provisions for raw milk production (196 KB PDF)

There is more information about manufacturing raw milk products in the manufacturing section. Click on Manufacturing dairy in the left-hand menu and look under Manufacturing specific products for Manufacturing raw milk products.