Department of Agriculture and Markets


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NYS Comptroller


Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Department of Agriculture and Markets
Dairy Inspections

Issued: October 6, 2014
Link to full audit report 2014-S-16
Link to 90-day response

To determine if the Department of Agriculture and Markets (Department) is adequately monitoring the inspection of dairy processing in New York State. The audit covered the period January 1, 2013 through July 21, 2014.

The Department’s mission is to foster a competitive food and agriculture industry that benefits producers and consumers alike. The Milk Control and Dairy Services Unit (Unit) within the Department is responsible for inspecting the State’s dairy industry. Inspections performed by the Unit include farm, plant, bulk tank, pasteurization, and Certified Milk Inspector (CMI) inspections. CMIs are private contractors who are certified by the Department to inspect dairy farms and obtain milk samples in accordance with applicable State and Federal laws. Unit inspectors are required to evaluate these records quarterly. The Unit also responds to consumer and producer complaints, conducts and supervises the licensing of certified industry inspectors, and performs economic industry functions such as ensuring dairy products are properly represented in labeling and advertising and ensuring an adequate supply of milk for the public.

Key Findings

  • The Unit performed approximately 6,000 inspections at almost 1,400 locations (e.g., plants, farms, bulk tankers) in calendar year 2013. Despite staffing shortages, the Unit does not have a backlog of safety inspections; all mandated inspections had been completed for 2013. However, the staffing shortfalls have required the Unit to cut back on other activities or goals it also considers important to quality control and safety such as delivery vehicle inspections, plant raw and pasteurized milk sampling, and butterfat testing.
  • Inspectors consistently rated establishments in accordance with prescribed procedures and followed the appropriate disciplinary action (e.g., imposing fines) when required.
  • The Unit’s inspections database is incomplete. Unit management cannot perform trend analysis or a variety of other useful analyses on complete inspection information. The effectiveness and efficiency of the Unit could be improved if managers and supervisors had access to complete data.

Key Recommendation

  • Develop the current capabilities of the Milk Inspection Program database, in conjunction with the Office of Information Technology Services, to easily and readily store, access, and analyze all inspection information.

Other Related Audit/Report of Interest

Department of Agriculture and Markets: Food Safety Monitoring (2013-S-27)

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: John Buyce
Phone:(518) 474-3271; Email:
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236