Licensing a Dairy Plant

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) is responsible for licensing dairy plants in Ontario. The licensing of any dairy plant is based on food safety requirements and not the size of the plant nor the volume of product produced.

Prior to beginning construction, an "Application for a Permit to Construct or Alter a Building Intended for Use as a Plant" (referred to as an "Application for a Permit") must be submitted to the Director under the Milk Act at OMAFRA. This application must demonstrate, through drawings and other information as necessary, that the plant will be built to meet the regulatory requirements under the Milk Act (Ontario).

An "Application for a Licence for the Operation of a Plant" must be submitted at the same time as an "Application for a Permit". However, the licence will not be issued until the plant is complete and OMAFRA has confirmed, through inspection, that it meets all applicable regulations under the Milk Act (Ontario).

In addition, applicants should inform their local public health unit that a dairy plant will be constructed in the area.

Note - If you plan to process dairy products on-farm we have specific requirements detailed in our "Guidelines for On-farm Dairy Processing Plants". To obtain a copy of the guidelines please call (toll free) 1-877-424-1300 or email

Steps for Licensing New Applicants

  1. Applicant submits a "Letter of Intent" describing plan and goals to the Director under the Milk Act at OMAFRA. The "Letter of Intent" should include but not be limited to:
    • name/contact information of applicant
    • type of product(s) to be made
    • type (species) of milk to be used
    • estimated volume of milk
    • source of milk
    • type of facility (e.g. new or existing building)
    • location (e.g. industrial area, rural, on-farm and address if known)
    • type of processing (raw or pasteurized, extended shelf life, aseptic
    • processing and packaging, etc.).
  2. Once the letter of intent is received OMAFRA sends a licensing package to the applicant. The package includes:
    • Application for a Permit to Construct or Alter a Building Intended for use as a Plant
    • Application for a Licence for the Operation of a Plant
    • Permitting and Licensing Guideline for Dairy Plants in Ontario
    • Copy of Regulations 753 and 761 of the Milk Act, (Ontario)
    • New Plant Requirements document (or Guidelines for On-farm Dairy Processing Plants)
    • Instructions for Submitting the Completed Applications
    • Preventive Control Programs information sheet
    • List of the Public Health Units in Ontario
    • List of Ministry of Environment Regional/District Offices
    • Information on securing a supply of milk, which is the responsibility of the applicant
  3. Applicant submits completed applications to the Director under the Milk Act at OMAFRA. The licence fee is $150.00 and is payable when the applicant applies for the licence.

    If an applicant is planning to ship product outside of Ontario, they will need to contact CFIA to apply for federal registration.
  4. OMAFRA's Dairy Food Safety Program staff review the completed applications and a dairy plant specialist (DPS) is assigned to work with the applicant to assist in interpretation of the regulations.
  5. If an applicant is proposing to process cow's milk, the Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) and the Ontario Dairy Council (ODC) are notified of receipt of an application by OMAFRA, and they are provided with an opportunity to submit comments in support of, or in opposition to, the application.
  6. The Director makes a decision on the "Application for a Permit" based on dairy food safety program staff recommendations and industry submissions.
  7. If the decision is favourable, the applicant receives approval for their "Application for a Permit" in the form of a letter from the Director and may now proceed to construct their plant.

    If the Director decides that a permit should not be issued, the applicant may appeal the decision to the Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeals Tribunal.

    Industry may also appeal the decision of the Director. If an appeal is made the decision of the Director is stayed until the Tribunal has made a ruling.
  8. The assigned DPS is available to assist in the interpretation of regulatory issues throughout plant construction. Once the plant construction is completed and the operator is ready to begin operations, the DPS conducts a regulatory compliance audit and makes a recommendation (to the OMAFRA Director) regarding issuance of a plant licence.
  9. The Director makes a decision on the Application for a Licence for the Operation of a Plant.
  10. If the decision is favourable, a Licence to Operate a Plant is issued to the applicant for the manufacture of dairy products as declared in the application.

    If the decision is not favourable the applicant has the option of appealing the decision to the Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeals Tribunal.

For more information, contact:

Rick Bond
Food Safety Advisor, Dairy


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300