Farmers Assuring Responsible Management, or “FARM,” is a program created by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), with support from Dairy Management Inc. According to the NMPF, “FARM works with all U.S. dairy farmers, co-ops and processors, to demonstrate to dairy customers and consumers that the dairy industry is taking the very best care of cows and the environment, producing safe, wholesome milk and adhering to the highest standards of workforce development.”
By design, the FARM program and its standards are reviewed and updated every three years. The current updates are the result of a rigorous, 16-month stakeholder reviewed that included input from dairy farmers, veterinarians, researchers, animal welfare experts and dairy industry leaders. Among the significant changes to version 4.0 are:
Tail docking will no longer be considered an acceptable practice in U.S. dairy farming. If tail docking is being conducted on a dairy farm, immediate action must be taken to cease the practice.
Mandatory Corrective Action Plans (MCAP) will be required, with compliance met within 9 months, for several practices relating to:
Veterinary involvement and herd health plans
Pre-weaned calf management practices (including disbudding horn by 8 weeks of age with appropriate pain management, and providing access to feed and water by the third day of life).
Non-ambulatory animal management practices; and
Failure to comply with MCAP specifications for any of these practices within 9 months will result in temporary, “Conditional Certification” for 60 days. If compliance still is not met in that timeframe, the dairy operation will be classified “Conditionally Decertified,” and FARM Animal Care Participant processors will not be allowed to procure milk from these operations and remain in good standing with FARM.
More detailed documentation of the updates to FARM 4.0 can be accessed here.
In addition to animal care standards, FARM also recently has published new Workforce Development tools, including a Safety Reference Manual and a Human Resources Reference Manual. Both modules and accompanying templates were developed to help dairy producers create safer, more professional and sustainable work experiences. The materials, many of which are available in both English and Spanish, can be found here.