Policy: Rejected Again

May 6, 2013 08:42 PM

NCIMS Again Says ‘No’ to 400,000 SCC

The National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS) again rejected proposals to lower the U.S. somatic cell count standard for Grade A milk from 750,000 cells/ml to 400,000 cells/ml.

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This is the eighth time since 1997 that the NCIMS has rejected the 400,000 cells/ml proposal at its meeting, which happens every other year.

At the NCIMS meeting in Indianapolis in April, three separate proposals were submitted to lower the SCC standard. The first proposal, submitted by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), would have lowered the standard to 600,000 cells/ml on Jan. 1, 2014, and then to 400,000 cells/ml on Jan. 1, 2015. The proposal was defeated 22 to 28, and a later motion to reconsider the proposal failed by one vote.

The second proposal to lower the SCC standard to 400,000 cells/ml was submitted by the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health. A third proposal, also to lower to 400,000 cells/ml, was submitted by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture. Both of these proposals received strong "no action" votes by the NCIMS.

The NCIMS is the ruling body of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO), which sets regulations for Grade A milk. Each state gets one vote in the NCIMS process.

"While the NCIMS has performed admirably in protecting the safety of Grade A milk and dairy products for more than 60 years, we are now in a global marketplace, and the conference needs to recognize this reality," says Jerry Kozak, NMPF president and CEO.

NMPF has supported proposals to lower the U.S. cell count standard to 400,000 cells/ml at the past two NCIMS conferences. The U.S. already has a defacto 400,000 cells/mlstandard because the European Union (EU) requires individual farms to meet that standard. Since processors cannot easily segregate dairy products for export to the EU, all milk must now meet the standard.

Currently, farms can receive derogations (or exemptions) from the standard if they are close to reaching 400,000 cells/ml. The first round of applications for derogations was conducted last year, with nearly 3,000 farms qualifying. To have the derogations renewed, however, farms must progress toward the 400,000 cells/m SCC goal.

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