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Raw Milk Ireland Campaign

The Campaign for Raw Milk Ireland was formed in In June 2011, we came together as concerned members of the food, farming and wider community to speak to the government with a single voice.
Since that time our voice was heard and it is now the intention of the government (The Department of Agriculture), to regulate rather than to ban the sale of raw liquid milk.

On this basis Raw Milk Ireland was formed as an entity to represent  specific Irish farmers who wish to produce raw milk to the highest possible standards.

The significance of this result for the wider artisan food and farming community in Ireland is not to be underestimated; an environment of mistrust between our regulators and our food producers has existed for many years, it is our tentative, but nonetheless genuine hope that a real change can come about in the future and that a situation can exist where we can work together with the authorities to protect and nurture our wonderful food traditions in Ireland.

As we receive so many queries from other countries and also have so much important recorded information relating to the Campaign for Raw Milk Ireland, we've archived it here on a separate menu.

The Campaign's Position in 2011

The Irish government intended to ban the sale of raw milk in 2011. We wanted the right to choose and called for the government to introduce fair regulations rather than an outright ban...
We believe that everyone has a right to drink one of Irelands best products; milk – in its pure unadulterated creamy and delicious form - raw milk.

The choice is the key point here...
Informed consumers should have the right to decide for themselves what they eat and drink.

To have banned raw milk would have sent the message to the world that we don’t trust our regulators, we don’t trust our farmers and we don’t trust our milk.

We welcome and encourage regulations on the sale of raw milk... As with any other food proper regulation is necessary and correct.
The sale of raw milk became legal when the 2006 EU Hygiene Regulations were introduced . A decade later, and the FSAI did not introduced guidelines or impose specific regulations on the sale of raw milk. Yet it is by no means desirable that every dairy farm in Ireland be permitted to sell raw milk.

Timeline:
The Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (DAFF) banned the sale of raw cow's milk in 1996. The EU directive in 2006 superseded this ban. In 2008 a (dubious) public consultation took place on whether to extend the previous ban to goat's and sheep's milk. Things rested so.
In late 2010 some farmers realised that the implication of the EU directive meant it was in fact legal to sell raw milk and began to do so. Then in 2011 the government indicated its intent to introduce a ban on the advise of the FSAI. This ban was to be enacted using a statutory instrument which would be promoted by the Department of Health on behalf of DAFF. This meant that it was to be an amendment to current legislation and did not have to be put to the Dail for a vote. DAFF told us that the timeframe for the ban to be finalised was before end of 2011 - allowing for a mandatory three month notification period to the EU - meaning that the legislation was intended be finalised by the end of September 2011 at the latest.

Formation of Raw Milk Ireland Campaign in 2011
As well as our opinion that the basis for a ban was flawed both in how it was presented and communicated, we felt there was a lack of scientific evidence to support a ban, and that consumer's right to choice is paramount. We were also disappointed that there had been no real consultation and that an opportunity for small dairy farms was being ignored.

Lack of Public Consultation
In 2008 a "public consultation" was undertaken regarding the sale of raw goat’s and sheep’s milk. 17 submissions were received. Sheep's and goat's milk account for around 1.56% of total milk output in Ireland. We could not understand why the government had no consultation in relation to the larger sector of cow's milk. Further, we felt it was disingenuous to present this as a valid public consultation regarding raw milk as a whole (as proceeded to occur). It should also be noted that attempts to view this consultation under the Freedom of Information Act remain unsuccessful.

A Small Business opportunity?
Raw milk production is a very real and viable business model for small farmers, servicing their local communities who could modify existing facilities and put a single refrigerated delivery vehicle on the road with only a relatively modest investment and would be more than happy to operate under fair regulations.
Currently farmers selling milk to Co-ops get around €0.35 per litre . Raw milk is being sold direct from the farmer at a retail price of approximately €1.50 - €2.00 per litre. The average price of a litre of pasteurised homogenised commercially processed milk in supermarkets is from about €1.20 - €1.60 .
It is not simply about cutting out the middlemen, consumers recognise economies of scale for these small farmers and as such are prepared to pay a premium probably even well above current raw milk prices.

Raw Milk Ireland - Where We Are Now
Our desired outcome is that regulations on the sale of raw liquid milk in Ireland are introduced. The aim of this is to allow consumers the freedom to make an informed choice whilst also minimising and managing potential risks. The progress has been slow, but we appear to be on track. We are truly delighted to have put a stop to the proposed ban and welcome the implications that it has for the wider food community in being able to build relationships with our regulators and make our voice heard.

Supporting Organisations & Businesses

SlowFood Ireland
Weston A Price Foundation
Eurotoques Ireland
Cais (irish farmhouse Cheesemakers Association)
ICSA (Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers Association)
Good Food Ireland
Sheridans Cheesemongers
A. Cavistons, Greystones
Irish Food Writers Guild
Bridgestone Guides
Georgina Campbell - Ireland Guide

We would like to note that The Tiernan Family Farm, Ballymore Organic Farm and Kelly's Organic Farm are sadly no longer involved with raw milk production, but were hugely instrumental in the campaign's work:

Raw Milk Ireland also has the support of a wide number of chefs, consumers, food critics and members of the wider food community.

To name but a few; Neven Maguire, Ross Lewis, Jp McMahon, Derry Clarke and Donal Skehan all lent their support to protect our right of access to this most traditional of foodstuffs.
It might be worthy to note that people who have supported the ethos of the campaign may not even choose necessarily to drink raw milk themselves, but they have wholeheartedly support the right to choose, and that they completely oppose the banning of a traditional foodstuff!

If your business or organisation would like to get involved then please

Campaign Archive

This section is an archive of some of the main updates that we featured on the website and in social media over the course of the Campaign for Raw Milk Ireland from 2011 - 2015 to keep all interested parties up to date (The Campaign for Raw Milk Ireland was put in place to ensure that a traditional, natural foodstuff was not banned, but instead was regulated).
For more detailed information on correspondence between the campaign and government officials during this same time period you can also visit our Government Position page.

Note: The page reads chronologically, with more recent updates first.


2015-2016 NEWS: Raw Milk Ireland has begun working with government officials to help to draft a set of regulations for the production and sale of raw drinking milk in Ireland.
All producers selling in excess of 30L milk per week will now register with The Department of Agriculture and will come under general requirements in current EU Guidelines.
This is a great step forward!


In December 2014 the issue of raw milk in Ireland was featured on RTE's Ear To the Ground.

Helen Carroll Travelled to the Crawford's Farm in Tipperary and spoke to Raw Milk Ireland and officials in the Food Safety Authority.
Watch Ear to The Ground Raw Milk Episode Here (8 mins 30 secs in)


January 2013 - News, via a recent radio interview on BBC4, that the Government has decided to introduce regulations for the sale of raw milk for drinking in Ireland is hugely welcomed by all of us in the campaign.

Our sincere hope is that in the drawing up of regulations that the FSAI and the Departments of Health and Agriculture will take a measured and balanced approach and consult with stakeholders to ensure that practical, fair and safe regulations are implemented.
Listen to the BBC radio 4 Farming programme here 
(Presented by Ella McSweeney and featuring farmer David Tiernan and Professor Alan Reilly from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland)

David Tiernan was a farmer and Raw Milk producer at the Tiernan Family Farm in Dunleer, Co. Louth and is featured in the above radio clip. Sadly, David passed away in 2013.


Summer 2012: Raw Liquid Milk remains legal for sale in Ireland

Both the Department of Health and Department of Agriculture have answered recent Parliamentary questions which were put to them in the Dail by TD's on behalf of raw milk supporters. Both Ministers stated that the matter remains the subject of serious consideration, but with no time frame specified for same.

See the answers to PQ's in the Dail here


May 2012: The Department of Health issued a statement from their press office to Sunday Times journalist Mark Tighe, saying that they believe that a ban on raw milk would be disproportionate to the risks involved. They further stated that they now wish for regulations to be introduced as soon as possible.


November 2011: We addressed the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Natural Resources, Communications and Agriculture on 8th November 2011. This meeeting took place in private. The FSAI addressed this committee prior to this on 13th October.
In attendance from the campaign were: Kevin Sheridan, Darina Allen, Elisabeth Ryan, David Tiernan. The committee Chairman Advised us that they would advise us of their recommendation shortly. However as of June 2012, despite requests we have had no further response.

Download Campaign for Raw Milk Submission (word doc.) CRMI Oireachtas Presentation 08.11.11
Download FSAI Submission (word doc.) FSAI Presentation to Oireachtas Joint Committee 13.10.11 (Alan Reilly)

Motion for original meeting was proposed by Michael McNamara (Labour TD for Clare) and seconded by Colm Keaveney (Labout TD for Galway East)


October 2011: Campaign members met with Minister of State Shane McEntee and senior members of the Department of Agriculture and FSAI on Wednesday 12th October 2011 to discuss the proposed raw milk ban.We were told that a final decision has NOT yet been made on the matter, though certainly it is fair to say that neither the minister or the other representatives who spoke appeared to be disposed towards changing their minds.


September 2011: Raw Milk and the issues surrounding the ban were featured on RTE's Ear to The Ground. Ella McSweeney Interviewed David Tiernan and alo Alan Reilly from the FSAI, (unfortunately the video is no longer available)


August 2011: The Following is a letter to the editor on behalf of members and supporters of the CRMI. Which summarised the viewpoint of the campaign when we were faced with the possibility of a ban on the sale of raw milk.

Published in the Irish Times and The Examiner on 29th August 2011

Sir, - The Irish government intends to ban the sale of raw milk before the end of 2011. The Campaign for Raw Milk in Ireland (CRM) has been formed on behalf of a number of businesses, farmers, chefs, food critics, representative bodies and consumers as seen in the undersigned.  The CRM are calling for the government to cease their current plans for a draconian, outright ban and take the time to consider other options available in the form of regulation of the raw milk industry in Ireland.

We believe that everyone has a right to choose to drink one of Ireland’s premium products which has a rightfully esteemed place in our food heritage. Informed consumers should have the right to decide for themselves what they eat and drink.

The Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (DAFF) banned the sale of raw cow's milk in 1996. An EU directive in 2006 superseded this ban. In late 2010 a number of dairy farmers realised the implication of the EU directive and commenced selling raw milk. Now in 2011, on the advice of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, the government want to introduce an outright ban on the sale of raw liquid milk to be enacted using a statutory instrument promoted by the Department of Health on behalf of DAFF. The normal procedure for food production is to introduce regulations to minimise any potential risks to public health, not to issue bans.

In 2008 a public consultation was undertaken regarding the sale of raw goat’s and sheep’s milk and 17 submissions were received. Sheep's and goat's milk however accounts for just 1.56% of total milk output in Ireland. We cannot understand why the government has not had a public consultation in relation to cow's milk.

Given the existing consumer demand for raw milk, we believe that it is inevitable that sales of raw milk on some level will continue despite any ban. A complete lack of regulation poses a far greater danger to public health than would an educated system of regulations designed by the government in association with relevant stakeholders from the farming and food communities. It is our belief that the government should be working with rather than against small formers and that their aim should be to help farmers produce raw milk safely.

Raw milk production is a very real and viable business model for small farmers; servicing their local communities, who could modify existing facilities in order to bottle onsite with only a relatively modest investment and would be happy to operate under fair regulations.
Currently farmers selling their raw milk to Co-ops get around 35c per litre. These farmers could sell their raw milk direct to the public at a retail price of approximately €1.50 - €2.00 per litre. The average price of a litre of pasteurised, homogenised, commercially-processed milk in supermarkets ranges from €1.20 - €1.60.

Risks are inherent in all foods consumed; as was demonstrated by the recent outbreak in Germany. Other food, are not simply banned. Countries, similarly reliant on exports such as New Zealand allow the regulated sale of raw milk as do many of our EU neighbours.

We would welcome and encourage specific regulations surrounding the production and sale of raw milk in order to minimise and manage potential risks.  As with any other food, proper regulations are always necessary and correct.  In fact, it is by no means desirable that every dairy farm in Ireland be permitted to sell raw milk.

However, by banning raw milk we are sending the message to the world that we don’t trust our regulators, we don’t trust our farmers and we don’t trust our milk.

Yours Sincerely

Elisabeth Ryan, C/O Virginia Road Station, Pottlereagh, Co. Meath
On Behalf of The Campaign for Raw Milk Ireland

This letter is sent on behalf of the following members of the food and farming communities:
(Note that the list below has been added to since the publication of the letter)

Derry Clarke, L'Ecrivain,
Ross Lewis, Chapter One
Neven Maguire, MacNean House
Kevin Thornton, Thorntons Restaurant
Lizzie Gore-Grimes on behalf of Irish Food Writers Guild
Patrick O'Donohue on behalf of Irish Cattle and Sheep farmers Association
Marion Roeleweld on behalf of CAIS, Irish Farmhouse Cheesemakers Association
Ruth Hegarty on behalf of Eurotoques Ireland
Margaret Jeffares on behalf of Good Food Ireland
Darina Allen, Ballymaloe
David  and Mairead Tiernan, Farmer and Raw Milk producers
Aidan Harney,Dairy Farmer
Mary and Gerry Kelly, Farmers and Raw Milk Producers, Moonshine Organic Dairy Farm
Slow Food Ireland
Cork Free Choice Consumer Group
Amy Caviston & Shane Willis, A.Cavistons Greystones
Kevin Sheridan, Sheridans Cheesemongers
Evan Doyle, Brooklodge
Peter Ward, Country Choice
Myrtle Allen
Trish Deseine
Donal Skehan
Georgina Campbell
Ross Golden Bannon
Hugo Arnold
Domini Kemp
John and Sally McKenna
Paolo Tulio
Leslie Williams
Tom Doorley
Anthony Creswell
Caroline Robinson
Ed Hick