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Cooperatives in FARM Program Must Enroll All Farms in Their Supply Chain

November 7, 2014

In a change designed to strengthen both consumer understanding and industrywide implementation of NMPF’s dairy animal care program, each dairy marketing organization participating in the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) program must now include all its farmer-suppliers in the on-farm evaluation program.

NMPF’s board of directors voted unanimously last week to require full farm participation as it reviewed the structure of the National Dairy FARM Program.

Now in its fifth year, the program, also known as Farmers Assuring Responsible Management, focuses on farm management practices demonstrating a commitment to responsible animal care on farms.

Cooperatives and processors handling 80 percent of the nation’s milk supply are implementing the program. But until now, not all farms in those organizations were required to be in the program. Under the new policy, cooperatives and processors must enroll all the farms that directly supply them with milk.

NMPF Board Chairman Randy Mooney said the change sends a clear message that the program must be universally implemented. “The FARM program has become the dairy industry animal care standard because of its integrity, rigor and authenticity,” Mooney said. “This decision means each farm in a participating organization will be held to the same high standards, with no exceptions.”

The NMPF board also reviewed new FARM program provisions that set up a clear process to investigate allegations of animal mistreatment. Farms in the program will be independently reviewed and may be temporarily suspended if allegations are substantiated. Once remedial actions are taken, the operation can be reinstated in the program.

NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern said this new policy will help farms improve their animal care practices. “We want the program to be inclusive and adaptive,” Mulhern said, “and where we find problems, we want to improve the situation rather than find ways to exclude farms from the program.”