Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
 Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q. What is the mission of the Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services?

A. The Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services regulates the New York State dairy industry through various sanitation, inspection, and economic controls and programs relating to all aspects of the dairy industry. The Division seeks to protect the public health and welfare while promoting an economic marketing environment that allows all segments of the industry to prosper.

Sanitation and Safety

Q. How do I contact field inspectors?

A. Check the Field Inspector Map for contact information or you may call Albany (518.457.5731 or 518.457.4142) for more information on how to contact field inspectors.

Q. How are dairy farms inspected?

A. When a dairy begins operations, it must pass an initial inspection conducted by a certified milk inspector. These inspectors have been certified by the Department and licensed in NY to perform dairy farm inspections, which include the sanitary conditions of the farm, the health of the cows, and the health of individuals working on the farm. The inspection sheet stays on the farm and allows the producer to ship milk. A NY Dairy Products Specialist (NY employed milk inspector) conducts a follow up inspection to verify and evaluate the certified milk inspector’s work. Subsequent inspections by a certified milk inspector take place at least twice a year but may occur more frequently if irregularities are found.

Q. What is required to install new equipment or modify existing equipment on a dairy farm or plant?

A. The Division trains its own staff and dairy industry personnel on various technical aspects of dairy equipment as well as the proper cleaning, construction and installation of such equipment.  By regulation, any person who installs equipment on a dairy farm or milk plant, must register with the Department.

Q. Is the sale of raw milk permitted in New York?

A. Please contact Albany for requirements to sell raw goat’s or sheep’s milk.

To sell raw cow milk directly from the farm to consumers, a producer is required to obtain a Raw Milk Sales Part 2 permit. Even if the farmer gives away one gallon of milk, a permit is required. To receive a permit the farmer must have:

  • A Brucellosis ring test on file with the Department’s Division of Animal Industry.

  • A Tuberculosis test performed on each animal.

  • The farm operation must be enrolled in the Quality Milk Production Services (QMPS) program and must have a report showing that each animal was tested for pathogens, including but not limited to Staph. Aureus and E. Coli.

  • The farm operation must have a milk sample tested for the following pathogens:  Salmonella, Listeria, Escherchia coliform, E. Coli 0157:H7, Campylobacter, and Staphylocci. These tests are required initially and monthly.

  • Satisfactory farm water test must be on file.

Q. How is the Interstate Milk Shippers Program administered in New York State?

A. This Federal/State cooperative program is designed to facilitate interstate movement of milk. Participating shippers under the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS) must maintain their plants and dairy farms in substantial compliance with the Food and Drug Administration Pasteurized Milk Ordinance.  These shippers must be rated once every two years, and receive a rating of  90 or above to maintain eligibility.  Each year, the Division's rating officers accompany FDA's Regional Milk Specialists in doing check-ratings.  Check-ratings are performed by the FDA to verify that the ratings given by Department raters have been maintained by the individual plants and farms since the time of rating.

If the state rating and evaluation program is not operated in substantial compliance, New York State plants would be prohibited from freely moving milk and milk products in interstate commerce.  The Division oversees and maintains compliance with all aspects of the Interstate Milk Shippers Program in order to ensure reciprocity among receiving states.  A large component of this program involves training and coordinating with FDA personnel and rating officers from other states.

In addition to the farm and plant level operation of the NCIMS program, the Division certifies laboratories that test milk, dairy products, and water.  The Division’s Laboratory Evaluation Officers conduct full on-site evaluations once every two years.  All laboratories are inspected every six months to ensure the accuracy of sample testing.  Split samples are delivered to participating New York State laboratories, plus the States of Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Vermont, and are analyzed for various quality tests.  The results are statistically analyzed to determine participating laboratories’ ability to correctly test the samples.

Licensing, Auditing, and Financial Oversight

Q. Who needs a milk dealer's license?

A. Any person who receives, purchases, handles, or sells fluid cows’ milk.  By definition the law defines a person as any individual, firm, corporation, partnership, limited partnership, association, limited liability company, cooperative cooperation, unincorporated cooperative association.

Q. How long is a license valid?

A. A license is valid for one year.

Q. How much does a license cost?

A. The initial license fee is $100. For license renewals, the fee is adjusted, if necessary, depending on the volume of milk handled the preceding year. The $100 fee covers a dealer who handles up to 4,000 pounds per day during the highest month of the year.  For each additional 4,000 pounds of milk handled per day; the license fee increases $40 up to a maximum of $7,500.

Any milk used to make manufactured products is excluded from license fee computation.  If all the milk is used in manufacturing, the license fee is a flat $100.

Q. Does a store need a milk dealer's license to sell milk?

A. A store is exempt from milk dealer licensing providing it does not engage in the customary functions of a milk dealer:

Stores who handle less than 3,000 pounds of milk per month may be exempted from the milk dealer licensing requirements.

           It does not distribute milk to its store(s)

           It does not operate a milk processing plant

           It does not sell milk to other stores

Note: A store that handles potentially hazardous foods including milk, shell eggs and refrigerated meats needs an Article 28 Food License issued by NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, Division of Food Safety and Inspection.

Q. Can a milk dealer be exempt from licensing?

A. The Commissioner may exempt dealers that handle less than 3,000 pounds per month from the licensing requirements.

Q. Does a producer (farmer) need a milk dealer's license?

A. No, a farm operation is not subject to licensing unless it handles more than 3,000 pounds per month and unless it does any of the following; ships its own milk from the  farm to a plant, operates a plant using milk from its farm, or distributes any packaged milk.

Q. What is required to become a producer-dealer/handler?

A. An Application for a Milk Dealer’s License (cow’s milk only) needs to be completed and submitted for approval. A license is valid for one year. The initial license fee is $100. For license renewals, the fee is adjusted, if necessary, depending on the volume of milk handled the preceding year. The $100 fee covers a dealer who handles up to 4,000 pounds per day during the highest month of the year.  For each additional 4,000 pounds of milk handled per day, the license fee increases $40 up to a maximum of $7,500.  Any milk used to make manufactured products is excluded from license fee computation.  If all the milk is used in manufacturing, the license fee is a flat $100.  In addition, producer-handler should contact their Milk Marketing Order to find out the Order’s requirements to maintain producer-handler status. This requirement would not apply if no packaged sales of fluid milk products are involved. 

There are some other changes and responsibilities that a producer-dealer should be aware of.

1. A producer-dealer is responsible for paying the Dairy Promotion assessments directly. This involves submitting a monthly milk production report along with payment of $.10 per cwt. to the State Promotion Order (our office) and payment of $.05 per cwt. to the National Dairy Promotion Order.

2. A producer-dealer is required to file a monthly plant report detailing the receipt and utilization of  his/her milk and a packaged fluid milk sales report twice a year (May and October). Once licensed, these forms will bemailed directly to the producer-dealer.

Q. Who has to file security and what are the options for satisfying the security requirement?

A. Any licensed milk dealer that purchases milk directly from producers and/or cooperatives are required to file security to ensure that farmers are paid.  A milk dealer can choose to pay into the New York Milk Producers Security Fund or provide full alternate security.  Alternate security can be a bond or letter of credit covering 40 days of milk purchases.  Dealers that pay into the security fund, unless exempted, must supplement such payments with a surety bond or letter of credit covering a minimum of twelve days' purchases.  Dealers who are financially weak may be required to provide security for more than the minimum amount.  Exemption from the mandatory minimum security required is granted to dealers who make only small purchases of milk from producers or have better than average financial condition.  The amount of surety bond or letter of credit that a dealer is required to provide is based on the volume of milk purchases and a review of the financial information provided.  Additional information obtained through the licensing process, audits and required reports permits regular monitoring of a dealer's purchases and financial condition.

Dairy Policy

Q. What is the New York Milk Price Gouging Law?

A. The Milk Price Gouging Law, Section 396-rr of the General Business Law, was enacted to protect consumers from excessively high retail prices.  Each month a threshold price is calculated and announced for fluid milk for two broad regions of the state.  Retail stores that price above the threshold price may be subject to legal action by the Attorney General if they cannot establish that the prices they charge are justified by actual costs.  The threshold price is a price that is 200 percent of the farm price for Class I milk. Monitoring retailers’ compliance with the law has been primarily carried out through milk price survey data.

Q. What is the Cooperative Financial Disclosure Law?

A. The Cooperative Financial Disclosure Law requires each dairy cooperative to furnish its members and prospective members with all pertinent financial and corporate information about the organization in a timely manner.  Dairy farmer members of cooperatives are thus assured of timely and complete information on the finances and operating policies of their marketing organizations.

Q. What are Milk Marketing Orders and how do they affect NYS dairy producers?

A. Nearly all milk produced by New York farmers is regulated under a Federal or State Milk Marketing Order.  Market orders are voluntary programs that are initiated and approved by dairy farmers.  Orders are enforced by State and Federal governments after farmers approve their establishment through voting in a producer referendum.  Milk Marketing Orders enhance the orderly marketing of milk through terms and conditions that provide for minimum pricing, audits of receipts, disposition and payments for milk by handlers, and dissemination of market information.  A system of classified milk pricing and market-wide pooling is used for cost uniformity among handlers and to yield an equitable return to all producers for the milk marketing areas.  Market orders are periodically reviewed to ensure they remain appropriate under changing economic environments. The Department oversees operation of the Western New York State Milk Market Order (WNYSMMO). The WNYSMMO regulates the marketing of milk in all or portions of fifteen counties in Western New York. The major population centers of Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Rochester are included in the State milk marketing area. The Western New York State Milk Market Office receives monthly reports of receipts and utilization of milk by regulated dairy plants, computes monthly class and blend prices for milk, verifies the accuracy of dairy plant monthly reports and payments through field audit, and compiles monthly statistics for the market. The rest of New York State is covered under Federal Order One.

Because of the importance and complexity of the regulations, there is ongoing analysis and evaluation of the terms and provisions of the order as they affect or relate to changing conditions in the marketing of milk and dairy products.

Q. How does the New York State Dairy Promotion Order operate?

A. The Division is responsible for administration of the New York State Dairy Promotion Order (NYSDPO) issued by the Commissioner and approved by the State's milk producers.  The Order was established to promote the consumption of New York milk and dairy products.  A ten member dairy farmer advisory board appointed by the Commissioner oversees and recommends to the Commissioner the appropriate expenditure of assessments collected from New York dairy farmers. The advisory board provides policy guidance for the Commissioner and assists in administering the order.  Milk producers pay 15 cents per hundredweight of milk produced for dairy promotion.  The New York State Dairy Promotion Order retains 10 cents and the remaining 5 cents is used for national program activities.  Monthly assessments collected by the NYSDPO are used for contractual milk promotion activities, administrative costs, and research.