Each of the sections below provide the information you'll need to ensure your business complies with regulatory and food safety requirements.
As a condition of your dairy farmer licence you must:
- implement and comply with a DFSV-approved food safety program (FSP) which is usually provided by the milk company you supply
- comply with the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, including Standard 4.2.4 Primary Production and Processing Standard for Dairy Products
- comply with the Code of Practice for Dairy Food Safety (September 2002)
- comply with the Dairy Act 2000
The complete list of dairy farmer licence conditions can be viewed here.
Audits are conducted to determine whether or not you have complied with the requirements of your approved food safety program, and if the program is still adequate for the business being conducted.
Dairy farmer licensees are required to be audited at a minimum of once every two years, with the first audit required to be conducted within three to six months of the commencement of operations.
Audits may only be conducted by DFSV approved auditors who have been assessed by DFSV to have the qualifications and competencies required by the National Food Safety Audit Policy.
A DFSV-approved auditor will schedule an audit date and time with you. Most audits are coordinated by milk companies but some milk companies require their suppliers to arrange their own audits. If you supply a company that requires you to organise your own audits or if you do not have a supply arrangement with a processing company (i.e. you supply your own cheese making facility) then you can engage an auditor using the contact details from DFSV’s register of approved auditors.
As a guide, the audit process will generally include:
- an opening discussion to outline the audit plan
- a review of previous audit results
- an inspection of your dairy
- a review of your food safety program
- a review of evidence provided by you to demonstrate compliance with the food safety program (dairy diary, stock treatment records etc)
- an exit discussion to go over the audit findings.
Preparing for an audit
You can assist the audit to be conducted efficiently by ensuring that:
- the food safety program and records of evidence dating back to the previous audit date (or for new licensees the first date of operation) are readily accessible for review, and where applicable, filed in order
- evidence to close out corrective action requests that are due to be closed during the audit is readily available.
The more readily available this information is for the auditor, the quicker the process.
The cost of dairy farmer audits may be incorporated into milk company supply arrangements.
Corrective action requests
If an auditor identifies non-compliance with a requirement of the food safety program they will issue a corrective action request (CAR). CARs are classified as minor, major or critical depending on the food safety or business risk.
The audit report will list CARs issued and outline the actions required by the licensee to correct the non-compliance and prevent it from reoccurring and the time frames for CAR close out.
It is your responsibility to ensure that sufficient evidence is provided to the auditor by the due date to close out a CAR. If CARs cannot be closed by the due date they will be escalated.
If a critical CAR is issued it will be reported to DFSV immediately. DFSV will take enforcement action, as deemed appropriate, to protect public health.
DFSV enforces the licensing and food safety requirements of the Dairy Act 2000.
Non-compliance may be identified through inspections, audits, or complaint investigations.
DFSV will take action proportionate to the seriousness of the legislative non-compliance identified and the food safety or business risk. The DFSV enforcement model guidelines outline the actions that may be taken by DFSV in response to serious, severe or severe/sustained non-compliance.
DFSV’s technical information note: Managing farm food safety risks provides a summary of food safety risks associated with milk production on dairy and guidance on managing the risks.
A range of regulatory and technical resources are also available on this site, including Guidelines for Food Safety: Dairy Farms, which provides a framework for the development of a dairy farm food safety program and outlines the minimum food safety outcomes that a dairy farm operator should be managing.
DFSV provides specialist support services to licensees, including regulations and standards interpretation and guidance, risk analysis, and technical and scientific advice.
Support services for farmers
The Victorian Government is providing a range of support services to dairy farmers experiencing emotional and financial stress due to the global fall of milk prices and recent dairy industry announcements. A summary of support services is available here