USDA might require lower SCC level by mid-decade
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is circulating a draft document to dairy trade groups about requiring farms to meet a 400,000 somatic cell count (SCC) limit in order to export dairy products to Europe.
Comments are due back to AMS by Nov. 1. USDA plans to publish a proposed regulation next spring. It, too, will likely have a public comment period. Implementation of a final regulation would then come in 2013, says Jamie Jonker, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the National Milk Producers Federation. The 400,000 cells/ml limit might be phased in over several years since the present standard is 750,000 cells/ml.
Currently, USDA issues export certificates for levels below 400,000 cells/ml in tanker loads and storage silos.
In the Europe Union (EU), that limit must be met by individual farms. With equivalency in trade agreements, U.S. farms will also have to meet that standard in order to export dairy products to the EU.
The practical impact is that U.S. farms will have to meet the standard regardless of where they ship their milk. Processors sell off ingredients, even from fluid milk, that then go into dairy products which might end up in exports. No exporting manufacturer will accept ingredients that come from milk that doesn’t meet the standard.
The draft reportedly does provide some exemptions, such as seasonality. But the details—who would qualify, and what would be required—are still to be worked out.