Lower national SCC standard sought

Speaking at the 9th annual ”New York Farm Day,” U.S. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish an emergency rule change to reduce the U.S. regulatory on somatic cell count (SCC) to preserve the European Union (EU) export market for U.S. dairy farmers. Gillibrand also introduced legislation that would lower the legal SCC in fluid milk from 750,000 cells per milliliter (c/ml) to 400,000 c/ml.

According to Gillibrand, the European Union (EU) announced that it would no longer accept dairy exports from the U.S. unless they adopt a national standard somatic cell count of 400,000 c/ml or less, starting in December. She said the EU ban would have disastrous consequences for U.S. cheese and whey products.

Senator Gillibrand called on FDA to make an emergency rule change to preserve this export market for U.S. dairy farmers. She also introduced legislation that would lower the legal somatic cell count (SCC) in fluid milk from 750,000 c/ml to 400,000 cells/milliliter. This legislation would also change the method of calculation to update U.S. milk quality standards and bring them in line with those of our major dairy trading partners and competitors, including Canada, the EU, and New Zealand.

In 2008, the average SCC in the U.S. was 262,000 cells/ml, which is far below the legal limit of 750,000 cells/ml.

Lowering the SCC legal limit will have potential benefits for both producers and consumers, Gillibrand said. Milk with low SCC has a longer shelf life, better taste and greater cheese yield.  Studies have shown that for every doubling of somatic cell counts in a herd, milk production drops by 400 lbs. per cow per lactation. Many cooperatives already provide incentives for farmers to produce milk under the legal SCC limit, and for the last 7 years the national average SCC count has declined.

One Comment on “Lower national SCC standard sought”

  • Mark December 1st, 2010 12:24 pm

    This is ridiculous. Yes, it would be good to keep trade with England, but the real question is what is the risk, and who is getting sick? 750,000 is plenty safe, and what you are saying, in effect, is that the farms that are not able to instantaneously lower their SCC to under 400,000 or lower will not be able to sell that milk. Dairies will lose a lot of money on top of what is already a lackluster dairy economy right now. Dairy farmers have used up their reserves to cover the milk price drop in the last two years. I propose a step-down method where over the course of 3-4 years we get the SCC down to 400,000, rather than by the start of 2011. Let’s start thinking more practically.