Nick Hoffman and family practice Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) at Hoffman Farm in Franklin, MA, offer fresh vegetables, eggs and raw milk to shareholders who pay $615 every week.
But earlier this month, Hoffman Farm ran into a snag in its bucolic business plan. Raw milk sold by Hoffman tested positive for traces of antibiotics.
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) does not tolerate any amount of antibiotics in milk, not even a smidgen. The trace amount found in Hoffman’s milk was likely because the farmer treated an infected cow with medication.
Hoffman is an experienced farmer. He started in 2003, farming for a decade in New Braintree, MA, where he grew hay and vegetables and milked 40 goats. He sold fresh produce to local restaurants.
Today, Hoffman holds a Certificate of Registration from MDAR that permits the farm to sell raw or unpasteurized milk legally. MDAR has not received any reports of anyone becoming ill or experiencing an adverse incident.
However, Hoffman Farm has recalled its raw milk for antibiotic contamination and suspended production.
“I care about the health of my cows and the health of my customers,” Hoffman told local media.
He said one of his nine dairy cows experienced an infection recently and was put on antibiotics until it cleared up. After the animal received its last dose, its milk was disposed of for the next 96 hours. After that wait time, there is usually none of the antibiotic remaining. But this time, tests still found the antibiotic in trace amounts.
Hoffman says if he ever has to use antibiotics again, he will give the cow an extra day beyond the wait time to be safe. Hoffman discarded 14 gallons of at the farm and told three customers who made raw milk purchases to take the same action.
Milk distribution will not resume until a clean test result from MDAR is returned to Hoffman Farm. Hoffman says he regrets the incident but insists he followed the wait-time instructions. Nevertheless, the antibiotic traces remained.
Hoffman began sales at the Franklin Farmers Market after 2010. He carved the current 18-acre Hoffman Farm out of land that was farmed until the 1950s, but then grew back to woods.
In addition to eggs and raw milk, Hoffman Farms grows beets and greens, lettuce, radishes, snap peas, spinach, green and yellow beans, broccoli, carrots, chard, corn tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, summer squash, kale, onions, pumpkins, winter squashes, turnips and eggplant.
With 10 or fewer cows and with sales directly to the public, Hoffman Farms is defined as a micro-dairy in Massachusetts. The cows are grass-fed, supplemented with hay Nick cuts on the farm. Massachusetts requires raw milk to meet the same stringent health standards as pasteurized milk and the state is responsible for testing.
Hoffman Farm is also home for Nick and his wife Jeanine and their two children.
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