There were no major changes or surprises yesterday when the National Dairy Industry Advisory Committee (NDIAC) met for its final time to approve its 106-page report.
While the report will be submitted to United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, NDIAC chairman Andy Novakovic hopes the discussion won’t end there. “These issues deserve continuing discussion, and the report is just a comma, not a period,” he tells Dairy Today.
The industry spent some time tweaking Standard 16, which deals with fluid milk standards. Originally, the committee had endorsed taking California’s higher solids standards nationwide. But committee members realized there are still a lot of unanswered questions in terms of consumer acceptance, cost and price implications, says Novakovic.
The committee did endorse a growth management plan for the country, but it was the most divisive vote—9-8--of the 23 recommendations made. The committee also recognized the practical difficulties in implementing such a program and that it “diminish our opportunity to grow new markets in foreign countries.
The committee also urged Vilsack to study eliminating the dairy price support program and the Dairy Export Incentive Program and use those funds to bolster other safety net programs such the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program and milk-feed margin insurance. In fact, the committee recommended capping the MILC (it did not specify an actual number) and provide subsidized margin insurance above that level.
The committee also endorsed lowering the somatic cell count 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 rate at various SCC levels. It notes one in four quarters are infected at the current 750,000 limit, with that rate dropping to 16% at 500,000, and 6% at 200,000.