Key Issues

Animal Health & Welfare

Healthy, comfortable animals are essential to every dairy farm. U.S. dairy farmers use best management practices as outlined in the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Animal Care Program to ensure dairy cows are well-cared for by providing them with a nutritious diet, plenty of water and well-ventilated barns. Over 99 percent of the U.S. milk supply comes from dairy farms enrolled in the program, demonstrating the commitment of U.S. dairy farmers and the broader industry to assuring the health and welfare of dairy cattle.

Dairy farmers work with veterinarians and their workforce to keep animals healthy. Diseases such as Johne’s disease, bovine viral diarrhea-associated disease and mastitis can significantly increase costs to dairy farmers through decreased milk production and loss of animals. Producers have a vital interest in promoting animal health through programs and regulations designed to prevent the introduction and spread of disease.

Our Position

NMPF supports the continued development and implementation of FARM Animal Care on U.S. dairy farms and advocates for educational efforts to inform the public about on-farm animal care practices.

NMPF also supports efforts to prevent, control and eradicate animal diseases by maintaining effective import inspection and surveillance programs and by banning imported animals or animal-derived materials from regions of the world with infectious dairy cattle diseases. NMPF promotes the development and implementation of response mechanisms for government and industry in the event of an animal disease outbreak and supports close coordination among federal and state animal disease programs.

Key Points

  • The FARM Animal Care Program helps demonstrate dairy farmers’ commitment to providing excellent care of their dairy cattle and producing safe, wholesome milk. The program details animal care guidelines using the latest research and best management practices, implements on-farm evaluations and ensures the integrity of the program through third-party verification. FARM Animal Care standards are revised every three years to reflect the most current science and best management practices within the dairy industry.
  • FARM Animal Care is the first livestock animal care program in the world to be recognized by International Organization for Standardization Animal Welfare Management standards. As part of the program, second-party evaluations are completed by trained individuals on every participating dairy at least once every three years, and more than 450 trained and certified second-party evaluators have conducted more than 50,000 on-farm evaluations since the program’s inception.
  • The Calf Care & Quality Assurance program was developed to elevate U.S. calf raiser standards by uniting around key management practices. This helps assure consumers that all cattle raised at any calf raising facility are healthy and well cared for and that the products they generate are wholesome and safe.
  • Preventing an animal disease outbreak remains a primary focus of U.S. dairy farmers. Any animal disease outbreak or introduction of diseased animals into the United States from foreign sources must be addressed promptly to prevent further spreading.
  • Rapid response to the introduction of an animal disease is necessary to minimize economic losses to dairy farms and maintain consumer confidence in the food supply. National animal traceability that allows tracking of all animal movements within 48-hours will enhance the ability of animal health professionals to trace and contain an animal disease.

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