There is a reason why inspectors are involved in food and agriculture – food safety! To have a good relationship with your inspectors, you have to remember this - they are not out there to get you! They are there to make sure you are making a product that is safe to sell to the consuming public.
While you may have deep philosophical ideas about some things, it is easier and cheaper in the long run to work within the laws than to get caught and have federal agents seize product at gun point or to make someone sick and lose everything.
In the following section, we'll introduce you to some of the basic federal and state regulations you will need to be familiar with. Explore additional resources to learn more about the specific laws in your state or area.
“Interstate milk shippers who have been certified by State Milk Sanitation Rating Authorities as having attained the identified milk sanitation compliance and enforcement ratings are indicated in the following IMS list. These ratings are based on compliance with the requirements of the USPHS/FDA Grade “A” Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO) and were made in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Method of Making Sanitation Rating of Milk Shippers (MMSR).
Each state interprets the PMO literally or uses it as a guide and have their own rules. Most states have the rules and forms online. This makes finding the information easier. You will also learn how friendly your state is to artisan dairy processing when you go to their website and see how much information is, in fact, available to you.
Before you start building, writing a business plan, or making any product, you need to find out the regulations for your state.You need to make contact with regulating agencies and learn who these people are and start the conversation. To find out which agency is involved in regulation of dairy farming and processing, look at the end of this Legal Section.
In general you will need to write a letter of intent. (Click here to see a sample letter of intent) Every state is a little different, but they all ask the same basic questions, including:
Others are also going to ask for:
You may have a lot of this information in your business plan already. They do not need the financial bits, only the narrative bits, but if it is in the business plan, you will look better by having one.
The pre-interview process will be simple and straight forward. It generally covers the following information:
The inspection process is not that hard if you keep your facilities clean. The process generally involves an inspector from a specific bureau coming on a schedule to inspect the plant and collect samples of product and/or water. Some states pay for product samples, some do not. If in doubt, send samples to an APPROVED lab at the same time and have them take that sample.
Every state is going to be different. The pre-interview or first inspection should help make clear the expectations of you as a processor (order reports, inspection schedule, samples, etc.) You will be signing something to get your license that says that you allow them to come to your farm to inspect and take samples.You do NOT want to be confrontational or a bully. This is their job and it is to help with food safety. You may get an inspector that is not helpful once in a while, but as a voter and tax payer, you can change that IF you are in the right and can prove that there is nothing wrong.
Two big pieces of advice: