FARM Program Area Updates Underway
September 6, 2023
- Finalized recommendations for FARM Animal Care standards and received NMPF Board of Directors approval
- Expanded reach of the Calf Care Quality Assurance Program
- Developed online training for FARM Enhanced Biosecurity to be made public in October
- Conducted testing on select farms nationwide to further development of the RuFaS model for Environmental Stewardship
The National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program has refined and grown its Animal Care, Workforce Development and Environmental Stewardship program areas in preparation for new versions in 2024 as it harnesses the latest science and best management practices with significant farmer leadership, feedback and stakeholder discussion.
All FARM program area standards are revised every three years to reflect the most current science and best management practices within the dairy industry. For the FARM Animal Care Program, the Animal Care Task Force and NMPF’s Animal Health and Well-Being Committee worked closely with program staff throughout 2021 and 2022 to develop recommendations for Animal Care Version 5, leading to votes in March and June 2023 by the NMPF Board of Directors approving the recommended revisions. The FARM Program staff is updating all resources and materials related to the Animal Care Program—including manuals, handbooks, preparation guides, Evaluator training materials, templates and posters—ahead of the July 1 effective date.
Additionally in Animal Care, FARM continued to grow the Calf Care Quality Assurance program efforts. This initiative is jointly led by National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Beef Quality Assurance Program with support from the Dairy Calf & Heifer Association and Veal Quality Assurance. CCQA in the past year has released calf-care specific employee training modules and in-person courses offered in both Spanish and English. Over the two-year lifespan, more than 1,200dividuals have become CCQA certified. In progress is an audit tool specifically for facilities without lactating animals but raising calves with dairy genetics. More information can be found at calfcareqa.org.
The FARM Biosecurity Program this year has further developed Enhanced Biosecurity, in collaboration with Danelle Bickett-Weddle of Preventalytics LLC, through a cooperative agreement with U.S. Department of Agriculture National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program, to accompany the Everyday Biosecurity Manual and suite of materials made available in 2022. Enhanced Biosecurity incorporates elements of the Secure Milk Supply Plan into a voluntary continuity-of-business plan built for the entire chain of movement of milk from farm to processing plant should a Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak occur in the United States. Enhanced Biosecurity training developed over the course of 2023 is set to launch in early October.
FARM Environmental Stewardship (ES) and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy (IC) are collaborating to update the scientific model that powers FARM ES, through work with the Ruminant Farm Systems (RuFaS) model, an initiative involving researchers across the country. FARM convenes a bimonthly working group including dairy farmers, cooperative/processor staff and members of the industry to collect stakeholder feedback throughout the development process.
FARM also facilitated direct industry participation in the scientific process by supporting recruitment of 20+ volunteer farms representing a variety of sizes, geographies, and productions styles to participate in scientific model validation. FARM, in collaboration with the IC Environmental Research team, trained FARM ES evaluators to support the volunteer farms. The on-farm model validation will generate valuable feedback to help build out FARM ES V3 output reports, evaluator training, and other resources. The evolution to FARM ES Version 3.0 will enable dairy co-ops and processors to better address customer requests while offering more insights to farmers. More information on FARM ES Version 3.0 is here.
FARM Workforce Development Version 2.0 will launch next July, with minor updates expected to the evaluation tool. The FARM Workforce Development Task Force met in April and discussed possible adjustments to the evaluation for Version 2.0, including streamlining evaluation questions and adding ones that further highlight practices that promote a culture of safety. The Task Force will convene again later this year to review draft modifications to the evaluation tool for Version 2.0.