There was a time in our nation’s history when many people lived on a farm or had close relatives who owned a farm, says Marcia Endres, University of Minnesota animal scientist. But, as you well know, most consumers today have no direct relationship to livestock producers. Many have a close relationship with their pets and love animals, so they want to know how animals are cared for on the farm. “There is a need to assure them that producers care for their animals,” she says.

The industry is taking a proactive approach to demonstrate to consumers that producers are committed to providing the best care possible, Endres adds. In October 2009, the National Milk Producers Federation and Dairy Management Inc., announced the National Dairy FARM program. FARM stands for Farmers Assuring Responsible Management. The program focuses on animal care and is available to all producers. 

“University of Minnesota Extension plans to deliver educational seminars about FARM as the program develops, and I will coordinate the program,” she says. “Dairy producers can contact me at: miendres@umn.edu with questions about FARM.

“I encourage producers to participate in the FARM program because of its potential positive impacts on consumer perception. Each farm should also develop its own policies for animal care and handling, and hold employees accountable for any misconduct. Most dairy farms that I have worked with in Minnesota have employee accountability policies in place,” Endres says.

Producers could also develop a security plan and know who is visiting the dairy, have a trained media spokesperson, and tell their story to consumers via websites, social media and farm tours, she suggests.

Consumers need to know that producers take good care of their animals, Endres concludes.

Source: University of Minnesota