by SUSAN MANN
The number of penalties issued to Ontario dairy farms for failing to meet Grade A standards is up for a second consecutive year mainly due to growth in unannounced inspections.
The number of penalties increased by 108 per cent, to 210 from 101, from August 2014 to July 2015 compared to the previous 12-month period, according to a Dairy Farmers of Ontario report released at the fall regional meetings last month.
The organization’s 2014 annual report noted the number of penalties also increased significantly to 146 from 64, or 128 per cent, for the 2013/14 period compared to the previous 12-month period.
George MacNaughton, Dairy Farmers director of operations and regulatory compliance, says by email when the on-farm food safety program, called Canadian Quality Milk (CQM), rolled out to farms in 2011, farmers knew when their inspection and CQM validation would take place. Those known inspection dates brought increased compliance, he writes, but Dairy Farmers also wanted to “ensure the requirements are met on an on-going basis and therefore reviewed our unannounced inspection criteria.”
To that end, the board affirmed the use of unannounced inspections in August 2014.
MacNaughton says farms selected for announced inspections include ones that previously did not meet Grade A standards or that had test results for various quality parameters, such as abnormal freezing point, bacteria, somatic cell counts or inhibitors, that were consistently higher than standard levels set by regulations. The unannounced inspections are in addition to scheduled inspections and CQM validation visits.
Farms near other farms slated to undergo an inspection/validation may also be inspected at the same time, he says.
Other raw milk quality numbers in the 2015 operations report for the regional meetings included:
- The number of somatic cell count penalties remained relatively the same, down about one per cent, for the August 2014/July 2015 period when compared to the previous 12-month period.
- Bacteria penalties were down by 28 per cent.
- Abnormal freezing point penalties were down by 35 per cent.
- The number of inhibitor penalties dropped slightly to 22 from 26, a decrease of 15 per cent.
- The number of loads rejected due to quality measures increased to 33 from 17 for the August 2014/July 2015 period compared to the pervious 12-month period.
The report says the increase in load rejections may seem high, but “it does not have statistical significance considering the total number of loads marketed.”
Dairy Farmers also begin its iodine load-testing program in April. As of the end of July, 504 loads were tested. The majority of loads, 81.2 per cent, were in the normal range of less than 350 micrograms of iodine per litre of milk. Almost 17 per cent were in the elevated range of 350 to 500 micrograms of iodine per litre. Twenty-two per cent were in the high range of more than 500 micrograms of iodine per litre. BF