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The Manure Spreader: Milk inspections

Tim Moffett for Progressive Dairy Published on 19 October 2020
Tim Moffett

As dairy farmers, one of the things we all have in common are state milk inspections. If you’re reading this and have no idea what I’m talking about, the USDA inspects dairy farms to make sure everything is up to standards for producing milk for people to consume.

I would compare it to when you were in school and the teacher stood over your shoulder while you were taking a test, and she would sigh every time you wrote down an answer.

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Actually, it’s more like when you just ordered fried chicken and waffles with a side of brown gravy then your cardiologist walks in and is seated at the table next to you. Your food hasn’t arrived yet, but the first thing he asks you is, “How’s the diet going?”

You know what, a state milk inspection would definitely be comparable to a dreaded dentist appointment you didn’t schedule. I would go on with more examples, but I wouldn’t want you to think they are a dreaded ordeal.

The thing is, we understand why we have the inspections and don’t have a problem with them. The problem is when we have the inspections. That’s just it; we don’t know. The only way we know we are having an inspection is when our cousin from two counties over calls and says, “The inspector just left.” It’s like a kid hearing the ice cream truck in the distance. Everyone hits the panic button.

It’s amazing how fast I can clean, declutter and hide stuff. I’m convinced they have a camera on my farm, and the only time they inspect me is when I’m in full silage-cutting mode, after two employees just quit, when the well stopped, after the lagoon overflowed, during a hurricane, while trying to pour concrete or the only time my milk tank agitator fell off into the tank. My inspector wanted to know why there were empty instant coffee cans on the hot water heater.

I explained that I fill those cans with water from the hot water heater to make my coffee. If it’s too hot to drink, then I know the hot water is working well enough for the milk pipeline wash up. Sounds made up, I know, but I didn’t get written up for it! And that’s what it’s all about: not getting a paper full of complaints from the inspector.

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Stay tuned next time as we talk about federal milk inspections. A federal milk inspection is like if your ex-significant other (the state inspector) shows up at your house (the farm) with a new blind date (the federal inspector) for you to meet. The ex is there only to reveal your past failures and to answer any questions the blind date may have about your capability together.

This a true story from a milk inspector, as told to me by a farmer in Colorado: A state milk inspector was visiting a small dairy for an inspection. This dairy was owned and operated by a young couple who had three young children. The milk inspector walked into the milk house to inspect the tank. He noticed the 4-year-old boy was urinating in the floor drain of the milk house. The inspector said to the young boy, “Excuse me young man, you know you’re not allowed to do that in here.” Being totally honest, and with a sincere look on his face, the young boy responded, “Why not? Momma does it?”

 

Check out Tim on YouTube or at Tim the Dairy

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