Sanitary inspections and sampling are at the heart of the Dairy Division's functions that lead to a safe and wholesome supply of dairy products produced and processed in Ohio. The Dairy Division has regulatory oversight relative to milk producers, milk haulers and dairy processors. The regulations governing the dairy industry in Ohio meet or exceed those outlined by the FDA and USDA. In doing so, producers, haulers and processors are able to enter into interstate commerce with a wide variety of dairy products.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture's Consumer Protection Laboratory is a key partner in being able to maintain FDA compliance by housing our Lab Evaluation Officers and performing mandatory evaluations for bacteria, coliform and antibiotics among other tests. The Lab Evaluation Officer is charged with educating and maintaining those drug residue testers at milk receiving locations across the state. On-site visits and split sample evaluations are conducted to assure dairy products are available for all consumers.
Many good things are happening across Ohio in the dairy industry. A couple of new plants recently started, and expansions continue at a number of existing processing locations. On-farm processing and small artisan processors continue to grow in number. In addition, technology continues to be adapted within Ohio's dairy industry. Evidence of this can be found in the proliferation of robotic milking machines. Ohio's dairy producers have quickly embraced robotics as there are presently over 45 licensed producers with installations, and many more are on the drawing board.
Finally, Ohio's producers are producing at a rate of 5.4 billion lbs of milk per year, which is a record for Ohio. This keeps Ohio as the #11 milk producing state but the #1 Swiss cheese producing state. As a result of this robust dairy industry Ohio has a vital dairy infrastructure within the state and Ohio looks forward to partnering with prospective licensees to join in the overall effort to provide safe and wholesome dairy products.