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National Dairy FARM Program Reaches 80 Percent Participation

January 12, 2015

With nine more dairy marketing organizations implementing the program since October, NMPF’s animal care program, Farmers Assuring Responsible Management, now encompasses more than 80 percent of the U.S. milk supply.

At the NMPF annual meeting in October, the NMPF Board of Directors unanimously voted to adopt several program changes, including mandating that any participating dairy co-op or proprietary processor must ensure completion of a second-party, on-farm evaluation from all of its farmer suppliers.

Additionally, the board approved provisions that delineate a clear process for addressing allegations of willful animal abuse or mistreatment on farms enrolled in the program. Any such farm will be independently reviewed, and if the allegations are substantiated, the farm will be placed on probation, pending execution of a corrective action plan to address any issues. If needed remedial actions are taken, the dairy operation will be reinstated in the FARM program.

NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern said this new policy will further strengthen the consistency of the program, and help such farms improve their animal care practices. “The goal of the FARM program is to assure a high level of quality animal care on our farms,” Mulhern said. “We want the program to be inclusive and adaptive. And where we find problems, we want to address and improve the situation rather than find ways to exclude individual farms from the program.”

NMPF staff will work this year to improve the functionality of the FARM user-database to keep up with the significant increase in program participation. Additionally, NMPF is engaged in efforts to communicate the integrity and rigor of the FARM program to retailers and consumers as well as developing employee training modules for producers that focus on animal care and highlight approved FARM guidelines.