In a letter to the National Conference of Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS) this week, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has given his support to lowering the somatic cell count limit for Grade A milk to 400,000 cells/ml.
“While I am not endorsing the specific proposals before NCIMS, I support the adoption of a lower U.S. SCC level as recommended by the Dairy Industry Advisory Committee (DIAC),” writes Vilsack. Note: DIAC unanimously supported lowered the SCC limit to 400,000.
NCIMS meets this week, starting Friday, to consider changes to the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO). The PMO governs Grade A milk that is eligible for shipment across state lines.
The National Milk Producers Federation and the National Mastitis Council have both submitted proposals to lower the current federal SCC limit from 750,000 cells/ml to 400,000 cells/ml. The proposals differ in how they would ratchet down the cell counts, but the effective date to reach 400,000 cells is January 1, 2014 in both proposals.
The NMPF and NMC proposals also differ in how violations to the standard would be triggered. The NMPF standard is stricter and would likely trigger more violations. The NMC proposal, on the other hand, is more mathematically and biologically correct in the way it calculates SCC averages.