Endorses ‘growth management,’ SCC of 400,000 cells/ml
There were no major changes or surprises when the National Dairy Industry Advisory Committee (NDIAC) met for the final time in early March to approve its 106-page report.
The report will be submitted to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, but NDIAC chairman Andy Novakovic hopes the process won’t end there. "These issues deserve continuing discussion, and the report is just a comma, not a period," he tells Dairy Today.
The committee devoted some time to tweaking Standard 16, which deals with fluid milk standards. Originally, it had endorsed taking California’s higher solids standards nationwide. But committee members realized there are still a lot of unanswered questions about consumer acceptance, cost and price implications, Novakovic says.
The committee did endorse a growth management plan for the country, but it was the most divisive vote—nine to eight—of all those taken for the 23 recommendations. It also recognized the practical difficulties in implementing such a program and that it could "diminish our opportunity to grow new markets in foreign countries," according to the report.
The committee urged Vilsack to consider eliminating the Dairy Price Support program and the Dairy Export Incentive Program and using the funds to bolster other safety net programs such as the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program and milk-feed margin insurance. In fact, it recommended capping the MILC program (it did not specify a specific number) and providing subsidized margin insurance above that level.
The committee also endorsed lowering the somatic cell count (SCC) level for Grade A milk to 400,000 cells/ml, with the implementation period not to exceed 48 months. The report includes a table that shows infection rates at various SCC levels. The table shows that one in four quarters are infected at the current 750,000 cells/ml limit, with the rate dropping to 16% at 500,000 cells/ml and 6% at 200,000 cells/ml.