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NCIMS Again Rejects 400,000 SCC Standard

April 24, 2013
By: Jim Dickrell, Dairy Today Editor

This is the eighth time since 1997 that the 400,000 cells/ml proposal has been rejected. 

The National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments again rejected proposals to lower the U.S. somatic cell count standard for Grade A milk from 750,000 cells/ml to 400,000 cells/ml.

This is the eighth time since 1997 that the 400,000 cells/ml proposal has been rejected. NCIMS meets every other year.

At the NCIMS meeting in Indianapolis this week, three separate proposals were submitted to lower the SCC standard. The first proposal, submitted by the National Milk Producers Federation, would have lowered the standard to 600,000 cells/ml on January 1, 2014 and then to 400,000 cells/ml on January 1, 2015. The proposal was defeated 22 to 28 on Tuesday. A motion to reconsider the proposal failed by one vote today. You can read the NMPF statement here.

The second proposal to lower the SCC standard to 400,000 cells/ml was submitted by the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health. A third proposal, also to lower to 400,000 cells/ml, was submitted by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture. Both of these proposals received strong "no action" votes by the NCIMS.

The NCIMS is the ruling body of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO), which sets regulations for Grade A milk. Each state gets one vote in the NCIMS process. Proposals that are passed also must pass muster with the Food and Drug Administration, which is the final arbiter of the PMO.

The United States already has a defacto 400,000 cells/ml standard because the European Union requires individual farms to meet that standard. USDA certifies export certificates for all dairy products shipped to the European Union. And since processors cannot easily segregate dairy products for export to the European Union, all milk must now meet the standard.

Currently, farms can receive derogations (or exemptions) from the standard if they are close to reaching 400,000 cells/ml. The first such round of applications for derogations was conducted last year, with nearly 3,000 farms qualifying. To have the derogations renewed, however, farms must demonstrate they are making progress toward the 400,000 cells/m SCC goal. More on the derogation process can be found here. 

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