The NOFA/Mass Raw Milk Network has published the Massachusetts Raw Milk Producers’ Handbook, a guide to compliance with the MA laws and regulations around the production, handling and sales of raw milk. This is the first guide of its kind, and is intended to answer most of the questions asked by farmers interested in selling raw milk. The book includes sections on subjects such as cleaning equipment, the milking process, bottling, inspections, and more, as well as an annotated copy of the existing state regulations.
In Massachusetts, it is legal to sell raw milk from the farm gate if the producer meets higher sanitary standards and is inspected by the Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Milk Inspector, though some towns have additional regulations. Many of these local laws are very old and some are unclear, so check with your town officials and ask to see the law in writing.
The NOFA/Mass Raw Milk Program strongly recommends that only producers whose cows are pastured and grass-fed consider raw milk production. Feeding grain changes the acidity of ruminant stomachs, rendering them more hospitable to E. coli and other pathogens. Moreover, most raw milk consumers prefer grass-fed milk, according to our market research.
For the NOFA/Mass Raw Milk Program, the raw milk issue is a small-farm and consumer-choice issue. Prevailing health and sanitary regulations are biased towards large farmers and industrial products. This prevents the products of small farms-raw milk, raw cider, or home-made canned and bottled goods, etc.-from reaching markets. If we want family farms to survive, we need to develop methods of dealing with food safety issues that don’t marginalize small-scale producers.
At the NOFA/Mass Raw Milk Network, we are working to:
Provide information about raw milk to producers and consumers.
Work with farmers and regulators to make raw milk production a viable business opportunity.
Work with regulators to ensure that health and sanitary regulations for raw milk are both effective and scale-neutral.
Reverse township bans on raw milk production.
Information for Raw Milk Producers
Massachusetts regulations require that bacteria, coliform and somatic-cell counts be tested monthly.
Bacteria counts should be below 20,000 per mL.
Coliform should not exceed 10 per mL.
Somatic cell count should be below 750,000 and ideally below 350,000 per mL.
Click here for Massachusetts regulations and laws regarding raw milk.
For more information about Massachusetts regulations, contact John Nunes at the Department of Agricultural Resources at John.Nunes@state.ma.us or 617-626-1813
If you live in a township in Massachusetts where raw milk sales are banned, call a member of your township’s Board of Health and request a copy of the bylaw that bans raw milk. If you have questions about appropriate steps to take and what may be involved with reversing your town’s ban, or other questions related to producing raw milk, contact a member of the NOFA/Mass Raw Milk Network.
The Farm to Consumer Foundation has made available their two flagship resources for raw milk farmers for free on their website. “The Raw Milk Production Handbook” and a DVD called “Chore Time” are invaluable for raw milk farmers or those thinking of getting into raw milk dairying. They’ve been available to purchase for some time, but are now available for free at http://f2cfnd.org/resources/536/.
The NOFA/Mass Raw Milk Network
If you are a consumer or dairy producer wanting to be part of The Raw Milk Network to help make safely-produced raw milk available throughout Massachusetts, contact Marty Dagoberto, Raw Milk Network Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.