If your co-op or milk processor doesn't offer quality premiums, clip this column and show it to the co-op officials. Perhaps it will serve as a starting point for discussion and constructive change.
Mark Wustenberg is a veterinarian in Bay City, Ore., and operates Kilchis Dairy Herd Services with his wife, Judy.
Example milk quality program
Tillamook County Creamery Association, Tillamook, Ore., has paid premiums for quality milk for a number of years. Since starting the program, it has seen the average somatic cell count of all producers drop from just over 400,000 to just under 200,000. The program has two parts - premiums paid for raw milk quality, and premiums paid for low somatic cell counts. Monthly averages are used to determine all quality payments. Penalties for substandard and inferior grade milk are only assessed on the shipment that violates the standards. The somatic cell portion of the program is outlined at right.