As we're dreaming up our new farm, there are some things that we ought to consider before we erect any structures. We do hope that our farm will produce enough of certain items that we can sell them to the public. We knew that the Arkansas milk law had recently been revised but weren't sure what that might mean for us in terms of our milking facility. Additionally, we know that there are regulations in place regarding the kitchen prep area used to produce "potentially-hazardous foods" such as the cheese, yogurt, and frozen yogurt we've considered selling. So, we set out to research it.
What we found are some seeming inconsistencies in Arkansas law.
Our milk must be sold from the farm. And, the law limits us to selling no more than 500 gallons of milk per month. That's a whole lotta milk, so that shouldn't be a problem! The law also mandates that we . . .
"Post at the point of sale a sign that is no smaller than two by four feet that includes the following information in large, clear text:
(A) The name and address of the farm with seller’s contact information; and
(B) The following statement: 'This product, sold for personal use and not for resale, is fresh whole milk that has NOT been pasteurized. Neither this farm nor the milk sold by this farm has been inspected by the State of Arkansas. The consumer assumes all liability for health issues that may result from the consumption of this product.'; and affix a label to the bottle or package that includes" all the same information as is posted on the sign. And, "A farmer who sells fresh whole unpasteurized milk shall permit inspection of his or her cows and barns by his or her customers upon request."
This all sounds pretty straightforward, so basically, all I'd have to do to start selling Razz's milk tomorrow, is put up a sign and make up some labels for the jugs.
If I'd like to sell the cheese sitting in my refrigerator, though . . .
I'd have to first have an inspected and certified kitchen that is built to code for the production of such foods, AND I have to use milk from a certified Grade A dairy. So, I can sell my backyard milk without having to jump through many regulatory hoops at all, BUT if I want to turn that milk into cheese before it leaves my house, I have to have a certified dairy first. The fellow John spoke to about these codes said that we'd be looking at $15,000-$20,000 in just equipment for the milking parlor. That doesn't even include the costs involved in building the parlor and kitchen to code.
Since we've got plenty of other goodies we can market more easily (eggs, chicken, honey, fruit, veggies, and milk -- to name a few), we plan to bypass this large upfront expense and not plan on selling cheese.
I know, I know. I can hear a few of you grumbling. Of all the products I make at home, cheese is the one that garners the most interest. Lots of people have told me to contact them when/if we start to sell it. It is sad because this stuff is SO good, but you'll just have to come on over and have some now and then. You know I'll always have some made up in the fridge!