Somatic Cell Counts
USDA Finalizes Requirements for European Health Certification Program
After responding to feedback from industry stakeholders, the US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA-AMS), Dairy Programs released the final requirements of the “European Health Certification Program”.
The effective date for beginning the transition to the new program requirements is January 1, 2012. After March 31, 2012, all shipments of dairy products requiring an EU health certificate must comply with the updated certification program and must be accompanied by an updated Certificate of Conformance.
NMPF Submits Comments to USDA Regarding European Health Certification Program
In August 2011, the US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA-AMS), Dairy Programs released a draft of the “European Health Certification Program” to dairy industry trade associations and their members for review and comment.
On November 1, 2011, after gathering member feedback, NMPF submitted comments and questions to USDA-AMS, expressing general support for the program and requesting additional clarification on specific points.
NMPF's comments on the draft program are available here.
Proposal to Reduce Somatic Cells Counts Defeated by National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments
The National Milk Producers Federation’s proposal to reduce the maximum level of somatic cell counts in milk – a measure of milk quality – was rejected on May 4, 2011, by the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS), which concluded its biennial meeting in Baltimore.
NMPF had asked the NCIMS voting delegates – a group of state regulators overseeing milk safety rules – to reduce the maximum threshold of allowable somatic cells in milk at the farm level from the current 750,000 cells/mL, down to 400,000, starting in 2014. But on a vote of 26-25, the voting delegates rejected the proposal, meaning that the status quo threshold of 750,000 cells will remain.
Read the full press release.
NMPF Delegates Adopt Resolution to Lower Somatic Cell Count
On October 26, 2010 during the NMPF Annual Meeting, the NMPF delegates passed a resolution to lower the Somatic Cell Count limit at the 2011 National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments.
The resolution calls for reducing SCC levels in a stepwise fashion to allow producers sufficient time to meet the lowered SCC requirements (600,000 per mL effective Jan. 1, 2012; 500,000 per mL by Jan. 1, 2013; and 400,000 per mL by Jan. 1, 2014).
The resolution also included a provision for regulatory discretion ― while assuring public health ― to temporarily allow for seasonality-dependent increases or events outside of human control, as well as continuation of current regulatory enforcement of a warning notice when two of the last four Somatic Cell Count tests exceed the limit, and suspension when three of the last five Somatic Cell Count tests exceed the limit.
The 33rd Biennial NCIMS will be held April 28 - May 4, 2011 at the Sheraton Baltimore City Center, Baltimore, Maryland.
EU Somatic Cell Count Standard Still Unresolved
U.S. government staff met in early July with European Union (EU) authorities to discuss the EU’s new somatic cell count (SCC) certification requirements, which will require each farm to meet a 400,000/ml. threshold.
The meeting yielded some positive information, but much work remains. Although the basic EU SCC requirements remain unchanged, the time period for implementation of a revised SCC certificate program in the U.S. has been extended. Specifically, the U.S. will not have to put in place a new SCC testing and certification program by Dec. 1, 2010 (the date on which the new EU dairy certificate takes effect). Rather, if changes to our SCC certification program are ultimately agreed upon by the U.S. government and industry, the U.S. would have additional time to develop and implement a revised certification program.
New information continues to come to light about the many ways in which EU countries allow their producers to undermine the stated intent of the EU regulations to maintain somatic cell count levels less than 400,000. NMPF continues to explore these reports in order to ensure that U.S. dairy producers are not held to a higher standard than EU dairy producers with respect to this requirement, particularly given the complete lack of scientific or trade justification for the necessary imposition of a 400,000 SCC limit on individual dairy farms.
New Somatic Cell Certification Requirements to Take Effect on Exports to EU
In April 2010, NMPF, along with other representatives across the dairy industry, met with USDA and the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) regarding the new EU export certification requirements that take effect October 1, 2010. These new requirements change the 400,000 somatic cell count requirement from sampling at the processor-level (co-mingled milk), to individual farms.
Moving forward, NMPF will work with the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) to present USDA with a reasonable and workable interpretation of what would satisfy compliance with the new EU regulations, and allow USDA to continue issuing certificates. NMPF will also be coordinating with the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the American Dairy Products Institute (ADPI) throughout that process. Additionally, we will continue to work with USTR as they initiate a dialogue with the EU regarding the WTO compliance of this requirement.