The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is circulating a draft document to dairy trade groups that will eventually require individual farms to meet the 400,000 somatic cell count limit in order to export dairy products to Europe.
Comments from industry are due back to AMS by November 1. The agency then plans to publish a proposed regulation next spring. It, too, will likely have a public comment period. Implementation of the final regulation will then likely come in 2013, says Jamie Jonker, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs with the National Milk Producers Federation.
The practical impact of the proposal is that all U.S. dairy farms will have to meet the 400,000 SCC limit, regardless of where they ship their milk. The reason is that processors sell off ingredients, even from fluid milk, that then go into dairy products that might end up in exports. No manufacturer will accept ingredients that come from milk that don’t meet the standard.
At the same time, the proposed draft reportedly does provide some exemptions, such as seasonality. But the details of those exemptions, who would qualify, and what would be required to qualify still need to be worked out.