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Dairy Facts 2016

USDA Expected to Delay Changes to European Export Requirements

Feb 19, 2010

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service will postpone the implementation until October of 2010 of its recently issued "Notice to Industry". This "Notice" had required the U.S. dairy industry to make an immediate change in how somatic cell and bacteria counts are calculated for compliance with European Union (EU) import requirements.

Working together with other dairy organizations, IDFA led efforts to challenge the USDA's immediate implementation of these requirements. "USDA's requirement to immediately implement the 'Notice' would have blocked shipment of dairy products from U.S. dairy companies to the EU, so IDFA appreciates AMS's responsiveness to the issues we raised regarding adequate notice," said Allen Sayler, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs and international standards. "Even though the required implementation has been delayed until October, we are encouraging U.S. companies that ship product to the EU to have their systems converted as soon as practical"

Dairy processors that export to EU countries are required to develop new methods of calculation, along with new databases for record keeping. USDA will accept only individual farm records as the basis for determination of compliance with EU standards for somatic cell and standard plate counts. Silo or farm tanker test results will no longer be accepted. A somatic cell count is a count of the white blood cells found in milk. The counts are used as a general gauge of the cow's well-being and stress level. Although the federal threshold in the United States is 750,000 cells per milliliter of milk, the national average based on the Dairy Herd Improvement Association (DHIA) and USDA Federal Milk Market records is around 300,000 cells. The EC threshold is set at 400,000 cells.

A formal amendment to the original notice is expected by the end of the week.

Read the Notice to Industry here. For more details, contact Sayler at


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