USDA reports 3,883 dairy farms, about 8.6% of the nation’s total, were granted somatic cell count derogations in 2014. That’s down slightly from the 3,892 derogations granted in 2013, says Ken Vorgert, Chief of USDA’s dairy grading branch.
In order to qualify for export certificates, dairy manufacturers must certify that milk they receive from individual farms is below 400,000 cells/m. If individual farms are not below that level, based on a rolling geometric mean of the three most recent months of SCC tests, the farms must apply for and receive a derogation from USDA.
A derogation allows the farms to ship milk and qualify for export. As part of the derogation process, however, farms must also demonstrate how they are improving milk quality. “USDA requires documented corrective actions to be in place in the form of the Affidavit for Producer Corrective Action to renew derogations,” says Karen McCarty, with the Davisco Business Unit of Agropur.
Prior to implementation of the rule on August 1, 2012, up to 10% of Midwest dairy farms were above the 400,000 cells/ml level. USDA granted 2,850 SCC derogations that year.
Some states, which have SCC limits of 400,000 cells/ml already in place, automatically comply with EU export requirements.