The National Milk Producers Association (NMPF), with support from Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI), formally launched the "National Dairy FARM Program: Farmers Assuring Responsible Management" at a news conference Thursday at 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.
“Dairy farmers are passionate about the care they provide to their animals. The National Dairy FARM Program takes that producer passion and quantifies it to tell the story of dairy animal care to our customers and consumers,” says Jamie Jonker, NMPF vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs. “This is a very thorough program that was created with input from all sectors of the dairy industry, including producers, veterinarians and other animal care experts. It includes current best practices, innovations and advances in technology.”
The dairy industry has an excellent track record of responsible management practices, says Jonker. This program simply offers producers an avenue to demonstrate and validate their commitment to doing what’s right, he adds.
At the news conference today, Jonker provided an overview of the program and the National Dairy FARM Program Animal Care Manual, which 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.
“Dairy producers should seriously consider participating in this program to combat the misinformation that is flooding the public about dairy on-farm animal care. We have a great story to tell about animal care on our farms,” says Karen Jordan, veterinarian, milk producer and chair of the NMPF animal welfare and technical writing committees, who spoke at the news conference. “We need to speak with a unified voice on animal care in the dairy industry so that consumers have confidence that our animals are well cared for and that our products are safe. The National Dairy FARM Program can help achieve this goal.”
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, says Jonker.