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Association of Slovene farm cheese makers (Združenje kmečkih sirarjev Slovenije)

If you want to be fast, walk alone, if you want to walk far, walk together (African proverb)

The work of farmhouse cheesemakers is not a short distance run, but a long-term process, which requires a lot of knowledge and hard work, usually involving the whole family. Slovene farmhouse cheesemakers walk together for more than 20 years in order to fulfil our common interests together.

The Slovene association of farmhouse cheesemakers was established in 1998 with 35 members, who understood that they needed a common approach to promotion, education, lobbying, working together and improving the quality of farm dairy products. Our association coordinates, represents and defends farmhouse cheesemakers in respect to concerned legislation, technology, food safety and economy as well as organizes several activities to support areas of interest of the members.

Members and technical and financial support of the association

Members of our association are farmhouse cheesemakers processing cow, goat or sheep milk from their own farm. Some of them also buy milk in addition. People and companies related to cheese making are invited as members as well. Currently we count 112 members. They pay an annual adhesion fee of 60 euros, from which 11 are paid as adhesion fee to FACE network.

We are additionally supported by the chamber of Agriculture, where our coordinator is employed. The coordinator acts also as a cheese technician, supporting farmers in milk processing.

Part of our budget comes from public funds which are provided to support the activities of different associations (tendering). Further, our association cooperates with companies providing the inputs for milk processing, which are sponsoring our activities on request. A small part of our budget is earned with fees for organized trainings and from the margin on sales of packaging material to the members.

Support of farmers in food hygiene: Guide of good hygiene practice

As early as 2005 the Slovene farmhouse cheesemaker association prepared a Guide of good hygiene practice based on the French example. It was approved in 2009. We regularly organize trainings for cheesemakers on the implementation of the guide. An important activity in 2021 will be the dissemination of the European guide of good hygiene practices among Slovene producers. Our association was involved in the translation of the guide prepared by FACE network well as in the preparation of the Teacheesy programme preparing training tools for technicians and producers. A team of trainers was put together, who will implement the trainings. Our members pay a discount price for attending the trainings.

Together we are more visible and we can buy cheaper: Branding of farmhouse dairy products and common buying of packaging material

An agency developed a branding for Slovene farmhouse milk products including a logo, wrapping paper, bags and branded clothes for selling. All branded material can be bought by our members.

Ten years ago, we started to buy different branded packaging materials for our members in order to decrease expenses for them as well as to improve the visibility of our association and the farmhouse dairy products. Apart from wrapping paper and bags, also branded pots for yogurt can be bought via the association. The joined buying of material decreased prices by 50 %.

Participation in preparation and implementation of a branding of Slovene farmhouse dairy products; Slovene super foods: Designation »IZBRANA KAKOVOST (KMEČKI)« - Selected quality (from farms)

From 2016 - 2017 the Slovene association participated in the preparation of a designation for farmhouse dairy products. Farmhouse cheeses and dairy products now can be marked with the designation “Selected quality - from farms”

  • when farmhouse cheeses are made from raw milk using traditional production methods.
  • when farmhouse dairy products, such as yogurt or similar products are made from non-homogenized milk using traditional methods.
  • when the processed milk originates from a farm (some of the milk may be bought in addition but has to come from a limited number of local farms).
    The Slovene association organized internal controls, what significantly decreased the individual fees for the farmers. The Chamber of Agriculture is strongly supporting this with the help of their staff carrying out the controls.

Improvements in visibility through Cheese day, Festival of Slovene cheeses, Map of dairy farmers, Website and Annual planner

Our promotional activities aim at making the farmhouse cheese visible to direct consumers as well as to the intermediates such as gastronomy or tourism sector.

In 2005 we organized the first “Cheese day”, an event with degustation and selling of cheese on the main farmers market in Ljubljana. The event is repeated annually and strongly supported by the Chamber of Agriculture (in implementation and promotion).

In 2018 and 2019 a Cheese festival was organized in the Slovene Congress centre Brdo. The festival received great public and media attention and will continue on an annual basis as the main promotion event of our association.

We further organized the participation of farmhouse cheesemakers in the annual farmers fair in Gornja Radgona and in the annual competition of Slovene farm products in Ptuj: “Delicacies from farms”.

A website was launched, where members are presented with their products. Additionally, a printed map of farmhouse cheesemakers was prepared and distributed through different channels. All member get an annual planner (calendar), where all important events and dates for cheesemakers are listed.

International cooperation

The Slovene association has a long tradition in cooperating with the cheesemakers of other countries. Our most important partners in the past years were France, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Croatia. In 2018 we became a full member of FACE network and since then participate in FACE network projects.

Trainings of cheesemakers

Our association organizes several trainings on cheese technology, cheese marketing, cheese quality and other subjects in Slovenia and outside of Slovenia (Germany, France, Austria). We also plan excursion every year to visit farmers with good practice and historical or cultural places in Slovenia and abroad.

Internal exchange of information and mutual support

The Slovene farmhouse cheesemaker association has a google group, where members can ask questions, share their experiences, offer and buy equipment or exchange opinions, etc. The google group is also the main mean for sharing information on the work within the association. In case of problems in technology, hygiene or other matters, we support our members for free.

Speaking in the name of the sector: Lobbying

From its beginning, the association defended the position of farmhouse cheesemakers in the process of the preparation and implementation of concerned legislation. It significantly improved the position of the farmers since many dilemmas were discussed with the national authorities and solutions found.

The use of raw milk and the use of good hygiene practice were two important topics successfully defended in the past years. On the basis of our professional and dedicated work in the past years, the Slovene farmhouse cheesemaker association earned a strong position as well as respect from our members and from the national authorities and is quoted as a reference by other professional organisations in Slovenia.

Future work

The activities carried out in the past will continue.

The association will work on the defence of specific interests of farmhouse dairy producers, namely on:

  • the technical, economical and legal advice to producers including support in an alert crisis situation;
  • making the specificities of farmhouse dairy products visible and valued in order to improve the economical situation of dairy farmers and provide the conditions for young farmers to continue producing farmhouse cheeses, distinct from the one produced in industry.
  • searching for additional financial resources

Raw milk situation

The sale of raw milk has always been permitted, but was first regulated with the EU hygiene package in 2004.  –  29 November 2021