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FARM Hosts Successful Evaluator Conference

August 2, 2021

The National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management Program (FARM) hosted the annual Evaluator Conference for a second year in a virtual format July 20-21. Evaluators, participant managers and personnel joined the FARM team for two days of town hall updates, external speakers and a fully virtual cheese tasting.

To kick off the event Dr. Bickett-Weddle, Associate Director of the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University, spoke alongside Jamie Jonker and Miquela Hanselman from NMPF to introduce FARM Biosecurity. Then, FARM Program Evaluators Janae Klingler from Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative, Deb Gingrich form Michigan Milk Producers Association, and Mike MacHado, from Glanbia discussed engaging producers in the FARM Environmental Stewardship program area.

“Glanbia decided to roll out FARM ES to our producers in a two-pronged system,” MacHado said. “We began with a targeted approach to our more influential dairy producers so we could learn about the program while the producers were learning about the program, at the same time.”

Other strategies for producer engagement included sharing info about the evaluation in advance; talking about how FARM ES helps tell a farm’s environmental story; and timing evaluations to fit farmers’ schedules and for when data is readily available, such as tax season.

Dr. Mike Lormore, Head of the US Cattle Technical Services organization within Zoetis’ cattle business rounded out the first day’s speakers and gave an overview of the current drug residue prevention landscape in the industry and talked about the challenges facing dairy farmers in the space.

Matt Lange, a business consultant with Compeer Financial, presented on the connections between cow comfort and dairy farm profitability. Lily Edwards Callaway, Assistant Professor of Livestock Behavior and Welfare at Colorado State University and Michelle Calvo-Lorenzo, Chief Animal Welfare Officer with Elanco discussed different aspects of prioritizing dairy cattle fitness for transport.

Callaway says fitness for transport decisions can be challenging but with the right protocols in place and the right understanding of the end goal for the cull cows, the process can run smoother for the cows and the farmers who care for them.

To end the conference, Julie Sorensen Director of the Northeast Center for Occupational Health and Safety, a program of the Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, NY spoke about how small behavioral changes through the process of ‘nudging’ can impact safety on the dairy farm.

FARM is planning on hosting Evaluator Conference in-person next year but until then, will continue providing virtual updates – like the monthly Summer Series for State and Regional Checkoff Staff. The next one on FARM Environmental Stewardship will take place Aug. 4.