IT IS UNBELIEVABLE. THIS TIME WE HAVEN'T EVEN GOT A TB REACTOR, YET THE FOOD STANDARDS AGENCY HAVE STILL FOUND A WAY TO STOP US FROM SELLING RAW MILK!
THE APHA AND THE FSA are shutting us down from selling raw milk again. Dad and I are hopping mad. The system is ridiculous and undoubtedly designed to stop the sales of raw milk by the back door, whilst the FSA publicly allows raw milk sales to be legal. The TB testing system and law relating to raw milk are not fit for purpose, to put it as politely as I can. The government refuses to use modern science to determine a farms true TB status and relate this to the actual risk to public health from TB in raw milk. IT IS OUTRAGEOUS.
At our recent TB test we had no reactors, and we can prove there is no TB in our milk, yet the FSA and APHA have come up with another way to stop us from selling raw milk.
Although we didn’t have any TB reactors at our TB skin test this month, we had 7 animals that were ‘inconclusive.’ This means they were neither clear nor a reactor. Since 2007 when we started selling raw milk, we have had continuous Official TB Free status with occasional inconclusives at our annual TB test during that time. We have never had TB. In April 2018 we had our first ever TB reactor. Despite the government killing 31 of our cows, no actual TB was ever found, and over a year later we regained our Official TB Free status and ability to sell raw milk. Unbeknown to us, however, is the ‘3 Year Rule.’ This means that for three years following the April 2018 TB reactor, if we have an in-conclusive animal at a TB test, then we lose our TB free status until that animal passes a retest 60 days later. This is the situation we’re now in. Our TB free status has been temporarily withdrawn and we have been notified by the Food Standards Agency to stop selling raw milk until the inconclusive animals are clear at their retest in early December.
We are just about at break even again each month. We have suffered huge financial loss during the period we couldn't sell raw milk, much of which we still owe. It really feels as though the authorities are trying to break Hook and Son. If you can support our campaign at all, that would be amazing. You have helped us enormously in the past, and hopefully you can help us again and help us get through this tough time.
OUR SITUATION WHEN WE RAN OUR INITIAL CAMPAIGN A YEAR AGO.
We haven't had TB since TB testing came in 70 years ago. Indeed, we haven't bought in any dairy animals for almost fifty years! However, that all changed when we had our first ever animal to react to the test and we lost our Official TB Free status that is required by law to sell raw milk. Our raw milk sales had to stop. We thought we would be back selling raw milk in October, by passing two consecutive TB tests to regain our official TB free status. Our business has struggled, taking quite a substantial loss every week believing all would return back to normal after six months. We passed our first test in August, but had three 'reactors' in the second test two months later. This means we will not now have raw milk until at least March 2019. Our business cannot cope with this ongoing loss of income from not being able to sell raw milk. Raw milk has been our passion that we have committed so much to over the last ten years. During this time, we have sold our organic grass fed raw milk to thousands and thousands of wonderful customers both locally and nationally, with doorstep deliveries, pioneering nationwide couriered deliveries, and attending farmers markets, principally in London, including Borough Market.
Selling raw milk has been amazing. It has given dad and I the chance to stay farming, and even buy the farm. The journey has had tough moments such as being taken to court by the FSA for selling raw milk in Selfridges (after two appearances at Westminster Magistrates Court, the case against Steve was dropped), as well as highlights; being in the final three in Farmers Weekly Dairy Farmer of the Year 2012, and featuring in The Moo Man, an award winning film about our farm that featured at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Hook and Son became the leading raw milk seller in the UK. We have done our absolute best to promote raw milk, its benefits and the right for consumers to be able to choose to buy it.
It really hurts not being able to sell RAW MILK when we are all so passionate about it! Especially as all our cows that have been taken for TB have been absolutely clear on post mortem and on culturing of their lung tissue. Indeed, we have tested our milk for TB and there is absolutely no TB in it. The law is damaging our business. Over 75 % of TB reactor cattle in the UK go into the food chain, and you could eat a rare fillet steak from a TB reactor, but you cannot have raw milk from our cows even though we can prove there is no TB in our milk! Why are there such double standards in 'protecting the public health?' Either there is a risk or there isn't, and certainly more accurate modern science that is available should be used in this day and age to determine if TB is present or not. Businesses like ours can be sunk because of an antiquated TB test that isn't great, and there is huge inconsistency from government in what is the actual public health risk from TB in meat and in milk. Anyway, I've had a bit of a rant, but as you can tell, we need your help, so that we will still be here in the future to supply you with our grass fed organic raw milk again.
Without help and investment, our business is not sustainable. We do want to be here in the long run to sell our wonderful raw milk again!
So, we are crowdfunding! However, we do not want to crowdfund simply to help our cashflow, until raw milk comes back; we also need to raise working capital to start new enterprises so that our business is financially viable when we cannot sell raw milk because of current UK TB law. We do not have the 'safety net' of a contract with a milk buyer which is normally the case in the dairy industry. We have to sell all our milk ourselves, which was fine when we were selling raw milk, but isn't fine whilst we can't sell raw due to losing our official TB free status! The new enterprises we are looking to start, are our own organic free range egg laying enterprise, and a glamping enterprise on our organic farm.
The good news is that we have been given permission by Natural England to have some mobile glamping units on our land on the beautiful Pevensey Levels.
This is brilliant! We are looking to make our own log cabin style glamping units that will be two four and six bed. They will be located on our land on the Pevensey Levels, and will be stunning! Renting these out for holidays will create an important new income stream that we desperately need, but at the same time enable people to see our farm, meet the cows, and experience a real break on the beautiful Pevensey Levels, that is fantastic for waterfowl, birds, all sorts of flora and fauna...….including our lovely cows of course!
Our crowdfunding campaign will have some great rewards.... do have a look! Hopefully, one day, you will be staying in one of our lovely log cabins on the marsh, watching lapwings, as the cows walk past your window ...….it's time for milking!
PLEASE NOTE, REWARDS WILL NOT BE ACTIVATED UNTIL HALF THE TARGET IS RAISED. ONCE WE HAVE HIT £75,000, THE REWARDS WILL BECOME LIVE. £75,000 IS WHAT WE NEED TO RAISE AS A MINIMUM IN ORDER TO ENSURE WE BUILD THE GLAMPING CABINS.
£100 - Free entry to our Turnout Day 2019 (weather permitting), when the cows are turned out onto grass having been in for the winter
£1000 - A one week free rental hire of one of our 6 bed glamping holidays on the Pevensey Levels subject to availability. This does not necessarily need to be a single £1000 donation, it can be cumulative, so four donations of £250 would entitle you to one week free glamping holiday.
£5000 - A maximum of 7 weeks of glamping holidays at our farm to be used in five years (by 31st December 2024) subject to availability. Any of these seven weeks glamping holidays can be transferred to family and friends. Again, donations can be cumulative to amount to a total of £5000 to be entitled to the £5000 level of reward.
£10,000 - Entitles the donor to a one week free glamping holiday per year for the remainder of the donor's life, subject to availability. These glamping holidays can be transferred to family and friends for the remainder of the donors life after which this entitlement expires. The donation can be cumulative, so for example, two £5000 donations will entitle you to the £10,000 level of reward.
We will keep you up to date when we have more news.
Phil and Steve
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