This program ensures regulations are being evenly implemented in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Vermont, California and any other State that produces Grade A fluid milk products. Without this program, Minnesota dairy plants and farmers could not ship their products into other States.
Interstate Milk Shipment Rating Officers (IMS Officers) are responsible for conducting surveys according to the requirements of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO) and related documents. The IMS Officers must be certified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for conducting surveys. Although they are State employees, the IMS officers must interact regularly with their FDA counterparts to ensure they are enforcing regulations uniformly.
A survey is a farm or plant inspection performed by an IMS Officer. The main difference is that farms or plants are not given written violations for correction. Surveys documents just record observations. Those observations are then scored and tallied for a final survey score. Farms are grouped into units for surveys based on the plant or organization to which they market their milk. These are called Bulk Tank Units (BTU’s).
Each dairy plant that wishes to sell Grade A products interstate is surveyed every two years. Surveys of farm BTU’s are also conducted every two years. During farm surveys, IMS officers may visit only a proportion of the farms identified for a given BTU with the number depending upon the size of the farm BTU.
Surveys are scored using two components: the farm or plant score and the enforcement score. The farm or plant score relates directly to the observations made during inspections of those facilities. The enforcement score is calculated by reviewing the inspection and sampling records of dairy program staff for compliance with requirements. This score is a reflection of how well the dairy inspection program personnel are meeting regulatory requirements.
There are significant economic consequences to failing a survey. If a farm BTU or plant survey fails their portion of the survey, milk from that BTU or products from that plant cannot be shipped interstate until corrections are made. If the enforcement portion of a survey fails, the plant or BTU may continue to ship products until a resurvey is conducted and passed. If this is not completed within 6 months, the plant or BTU would not be able to ship Grade A products interstate.