Who are Raw Milk Ireland?
Raw Milk Ireland is a co-ordinated effort by farmers, food sellers, food organisations and consumers who worked together as the Campaign for Raw Milk Ireland to try and put a stop to the Government’s proposed ban on the sale of raw milk in Ireland in 2011.
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 has been heard, and as of 2015 are now working with the government to create guidelines for the sale of raw drinking milk in Ireland
Elisabeth Ryan is responsible for the co-ordination of communications for Raw Milk Ireland.
Read a Q&A with Elisabeth on “That’s Farming”
Organisations and Businesses involved in Raw Milk Ireland:
Weston A Price Foundation
Cais (irish farmhouse Cheesemakers Association)
ICSA (Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers Association)
Good Food Ireland
A. Cavistons, Greystones
Irish Food Writers Guild
Georgina Campbell – Ireland Guide
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.
People who support the ethos of the campaign may not even choose necessarily to drink raw milk themselves, but they wholeheartedly support the right to choose, and oppose the banning of a traditional foodstuff!
If your business or organisation would like to get involved then please get in touch.
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 because of 2006 EU Hygiene Regulations . A decade later, and the FSAI have not introduced guidelines or imposed 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.
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 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 the implication of the EU directive and began to sell raw milk. Then in 2011 the government intended to introduce a ban on the advise of the FSAI. This ban was to be enacted using a statutory instrument 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 even 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 consultation and that an opportunity for small dairy farms was being ignored.
Lack of Public Consultation
In 2008 a public consulation 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 cow’s milk.
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.