In March 2010, the California dairy community voluntarily announced its participation in the National Dairy FARM Program: Farmers Assuring Responsible Management, a comprehensive dairy animal well-being education and verification program. The announcement confirmed California dairy farmers’ longstanding commitment to the proper care, treatment and well-being of their animals, and a recognition of growing interest among consumers about these issues.
Now in its third year of implementation, the Dairy FARM Program has reached a major milestone in California, with the number of completed on-farm evaluations topping 1,080. That’s roughly 70 percent of all the dairy farms in the state that have been evaluated according to FARM’s 77-point animal care guidelines. Further progress is expected with more evaluations scheduled throughout the rest of the year.
Designed to verify steps dairy farmers take daily to care for their animals, the FARM Program includes a comprehensive set of animal care guidelines and recommendations developed by veterinarians, animal scientists and dairy farmers (visit www.NationalDairyFARM.com for a complete list of the program’s guidelines).
Each dairy in the program is evaluated by a trained professional according to the program’s guidelines. The initial evaluation of all farms in the program is followed by a verification process in which a representative sample is reassessed by independent experts.
Progress continues nationally
In an announcement made by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) last week, it was reported that 70 percent of the nation’s milk supply is now participating in the National Dairy FARM Program. That’s up sharply, from 31 percent this time last year.
In addition to the positive development in the level of participation in the FARM Program, progress continues on improving the overall program, including an extensive review of the animal care guidelines. After nearly a year of consultation throughout the industry with farmers, veterinary experts and cooperative staff, the three year-old animal care manual will be revised to reflect the latest knowledge and best practices about proper dairy animal care. Revisions to the animal observation component also relied on analysis of over 360,000 animal observations collected through on-farm evaluations for FARM Program over the last three years.
As FARM Program implementation continues, California dairy families remain committed to their core values of responsible and ethical care for their animals, while continuing to produce affordable, safe and nutritious dairy products for millions of families to enjoy.
Dairy Cares is a statewide coalition supporting economic and environmental sustainability and responsible animal care. Our members include the Bank of the West, Bar 20 Dairy Farms, California Dairies Inc., California Dairy Campaign, California Farm Bureau Federation, Conestoga-Rovers and Associates, Dairy Farmers of America-Western Area Council, Dairy Institute of California, Hilmar Cheese Co., HP Hood, Joseph Gallo Farms, Land O’Lakes, Milk Producers Council, Ruan Transport Corp., Western United Dairymen, California Cattlemen’s Association and others. For information, visit our web site or call 916-441-3318.