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Dairy Focus: FARM Program Will Authenticate Dairy Farm Practices

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J.W. Schroeder, NDSU Extension dairy specialist J.W. Schroeder, NDSU Extension dairy specialist
A new program promotes consistency in animal care.

By J.W. Schroeder, Dairy Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

The dairy legacy has been fresh, delicious milk and wholesome dairy foods to your table from people who also care for the land and contribute to strong local communities and family businesses.

That legacy continues with the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Commitment and involves the U.S. dairy industry from the local farmer to the neighborhood grocer. They have united to add environmental responsibility, which includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions for fluid milk by 25 percent by the year 2020 and an initiative to find and act on more ways to help conserve our nation’s water supply.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), with support from Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), formally launched the "National Dairy FARM Program: Farmers Assuring Responsible Management" at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis. The stakeholders unveiled key components of the voluntary, nationwide program designed to bring consistency and uniformity to animal care through education, on-farm evaluations and objective third-party verification.

The dairy industry has an excellent track record of responsible management practices. This program simply offers producers an avenue to demonstrate and validate their commitment to doing what’s right. The National Dairy FARM Program’s Animal Care Manual details best management practices for a variety of issues, including animal health, facilities and housing, animal nutrition, and transportation and handling. The content of the manual is consistent with the principles and guidelines of the National Dairy Animal Well-Being Initiative, which was introduced in 2008.

With dairy producer participation, this program is designed to combat the misinformation that is flooding the public about dairy on-farm animal care. Participating producers will be provided with training materials that include a comprehensive animal care resource manual, a quick-reference user guide, an animal care instructional video and other educational materials. An on-farm instructor may be available from a producer’s cooperative or other source.

Once a producer completes the education component, a trained veterinarian, Extension Service educator, co-op field staff member, university personnel or others who have completed the program training will conduct an on-farm evaluation. In addition, a certain number of participating dairy farms will be selected randomly for third-party verification.

Third-party verification adds credibility to a program that provides a thorough, reasonable and practical approach to dairy animal management and demonstrates to the consumer that our industry truly is committed to abiding by the highest standards of animal care. On-farm evaluations will begin in 2010; third-party verification will follow in 2011.

To participate, producers, co-ops, processors, and state and regional dairy producer organizations can contact the NMPF. The cost of the program still is being determined. Implementation of the program, including cost, will depend on whether participants join the program through a co-op or proprietary processor, or as an individual producer. The NMPF is managing the production and dissemination of technical animal care manuals, producer education and training, on-farm evaluation and third-party verification. DMI is assisting with communication, specifically to producers and industry, as well as potential communication to the market chain and consumers.

Additional National Dairy FARM Program modules designed to assure the quality, safety and wholesomeness of dairy products will be introduced in the future.


NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:J.W. Schroeder, (701) 231-7663, jw.schroeder@ndsu.edu
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu
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