Dairy producers now have online access to key components of the new National Dairy FARM Program: Farmers Assuring Responsible Management. That announcement was made during the annual meeting of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and dairy checkoff groups in Grapevine, Texas, where producers and industry leaders from across the country were introduced to the on-farm animal well-being program.
Created by NMPF, with support from Dairy Management Inc., the National Dairy FARM Program is a voluntary, nationwide program designed to bring consistency and uniformity to animal care through education, on-farm evaluations and objective third-party verification.
“The National Dairy FARM Program was developed by producers, veterinarians, and animal care experts with the goal of a comprehensive and verifiable dairy animal care program,” said Betsy Flores, NMPF director of regulatory affairs.
The program was formally launched Oct. 1, during a news conference at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis. The session at NMPF’s annual meeting allowed dairy industry leaders to learn more about the program, and about the Animal Care Manual and Animal Care Quick Reference User Guide, now available online at www.nationaldairyfarm.com.
“Dairy producers need a unified voice for communicating to consumers how producers care for dairy cows. This story is one based not only on science, but on the caring relationship we have with our animals,” said Karen Jordan, veterinarian, milk producer and chair of the NMPF animal health and welfare committee, who spoke at the session. “The release of the Animal Care Manual and Quick Reference User Guide is the first step in telling this story.”
The National Dairy FARM Program Animal Care Manual details best management practices for a variety of issues including animal health, environment and facilities, animal nutrition, and transportation and handling. The content of the manual is consistent with the principles and guidelines of the National Dairy Animal Well-Being Initiative, which was introduced in 2008.
The companion Animal Care Quick Reference User Guide is a condensed version of the manual for on-farm use and implementation. These materials will be supplemented with an animal care video and other educational resources. An on-farm instructor may be available from a producer’s cooperative or other source.
To participate in the National Dairy FARM Program, producers, co-ops, processors, and state and regional dairy producer organizations can contact NMPF. On-farm evaluations will begin in 2010; third-party verification will follow in 2011.
NMPF is managing the production and dissemination of technical animal care manuals, producer education and training, on-farm evaluation, and third-party verification. DMI is assisting with communications, specifically to producers and industry, as well as potential communications to the market chain and consumers.
Additional National Dairy FARM Program modules designed to assure the quality, safety and wholesomeness of dairy products will be introduced in the future.
For more information on the National Dairy FARM Program, contact Betsy Flores at (703) 243-6111 or log on to www.nationaldairyfarm.com.