What is a RAMP?

RAMP stands for Risk Analysis Management Plan.

A RAMP is a comprehensive and holistic “Grass-to-Glass” plan that identifies potential food safety risks and creates management systems to reduce them. A RAMP can been described as a systems of hurdles strategically placed between pathogens and your raw milk.

A RAMP is highly individualized to each specific farm. No two RAMPs will be alike, but rather will be adapted to fit the specific needs of each farm.

Creating a written, farm-specific Risk Analysis Management Plan requires mental effort on the part of the farmer to identify risks and plan conditions to manage them. While challenging, the process is rewarding and results in a sharpened mindset with regard to food safety.

Writing Your Own RAMP

Your RAMP should be written following the format contained in the attached RAWMI RAMP Excel Spreadsheet template.

Using this template, you will describe your overall system to ensure that raw milk is consistently produced and controlled according to quality and safety standards. You will express how risks are minimized at every step of the process, from the pasture to the final bottle.

Areas that should be covered in every RAMP include (but are not limited to):

  • Farm and Land Conditions
  • Livestock Health and Nutrition
  • Milking Conditions
  • Bottling and Cooling Conditions
  • Distribution and Storage Conditions
  • Milk Testing Protocol and Results
  • Customer Feedback and Recall Conditions

GMP, SSOP, or CCP?

On the RAMP spreadsheet, you will see three headings under which you may categorize each of your production steps:

  • GMP or “General Management Plan”
  • SSOP or “Standard Sanitary Operating Procedures”
  • CCP or “Critical Control Point”

The definitions for each of these categories are found below. However, when writing your initial RAMP, don’t get too caught up in determining which category each of your steps fall into. They can be categorized later, during the revision process.

During the initial process, the important thing is just to get down on paper your entire production process, from Grass-to-Glass.

What is a GMP?

The steps you describe in your RAMP that express the general practices used to create a low-risk conditions are considered part of your General Management Plan (GMP). Most of the steps listed on your RAMP will fall into this category.

What is an SSOP?

A Standard Sanitary Operating Procedure (SSOP) is a written procedure that explains exactly the task of milking the cows or goats from the time the livestock enter the barn, until the milk is ready forthe customer and all the equipment is cleaned and stored. The purpose of the SSOP is to provide enough detail so employees can perform the task correctly by reading the procedure without any additional instruction. Your SSOP will be expressed in great detail in a separate Word document and will accompany your RAMP spreadsheet.

What is a CCP?

A Critical Control Point (CCP) is a very important measurable control point that must always be achieved. If a CCP fails, production must stop until the CCP has been investigated, the deviation or failure is determined and the CCP standards are remediated and achieved.

And example of a CCP might be “Well water is tested clear of Coliform bacteria on a yearly basis.”

How are you doing so far?

Whew! That was a lot of technical language. How are you doing so far? Excited to get started? We hope so!

Maybe you’re not so excited, and instead a little overwhelmed or confused? Don’t worry! You are not alone. Every farmer who prepares a RAMP finds the process challenging. It is like doing mental push-ups, as we think through and then articulate our processed for producing low-risk raw milk.

One strategy that we highly encourage is for you to head over to the RAWMI website and take a look at the RAMP spreadsheets and the SSOP and CCP documents that the current LISTED farmers have prepared. All of their plans are posted publicly in order to educate their fellow farmers.

Take an hour or two and read them through. Consider this your homework. You will find that while each farm is unique, there are some general themes and strategies that you can build upon as you begin to write your own RAMP.

If after doing so you still feel a bit lost, please let us know. We are here to answer your questions!

Need Technical Help?

Sometimes what stands between a farmer and a well-written RAMP is not knowledge or mindset, but technical skills.

Let’s be honest, most farmers choose farming because they love to be outside with livestock, not sitting in front of a computer

If this is you—if you find using a spreadsheet program foreign, or if it is really challenging to express yourself in writing, please don’t let that stand in the way of joining the RAWMI community.

RAWMI offers technical support to applying farmers free of charge. You just need to ask. A RAWMI volunteer with be happy to schedule a time to meet with you over the phone, and will assist you in getting your ideas into the spreadsheet and document formats needed for listing.

To request technical help, email: mark@rawmilkinstitute.org and in the subject line write “I Need Technical Assistance”. He will put you in touch with a volunteer who will help you out!

When Your Drafts are Done

If you have completed your first drafts of the RAMP spreadsheet, and SSOP and CCP documents, congratulations! You have finished one of the most challenging and important steps in the LISTING process.

Please send these documents as email attachments to mark@rawmilkinstitute.org. They will be forward to the RAWMI board for review, and we will get back to you with our questions and suggestions (if any) for revision.