Chairman’s Column: Animal care remains a focus

Written by Randy Mooney, Chairman of the Board
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As dairy producers, taking care of our cows is second nature. For most of us, being around dairy cows is why we got into this business in the first place. But, for consumers who are generations removed from agriculture, there are many questions about how animals are treated on a dairy operation.

That is why it is critical they hear about the importance of animal care and wellness directly from dairy producers themselves. This is part of the reason DFA developed the Gold Standard Dairy Program in 2007, which was the first program of its kind in the industry. Today, Gold Standard utilizes the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program as its animal care and wellness component, which sets industry guidelines for cow health.

Programs like Gold Standard and FARM allow the industry to work together to determine best practices. In September, the third round of Gold Standard evaluations will begin. This will incorporate FARM 3.0, which was revised with input from industry experts and producers, including DFA members and staff.

The revisions include changes based on the evolving science around animal care, and are designed to strengthen the effectiveness and credibility of its guidelines. One critical component of FARM and Gold Standard is the importance of documentation, such as standard operating procedures, employee training logs and written on-farm policies. Templates for these forms are available to DFA members on myDFA, along with a wealth of other resources and information. You can also read more about why these forms are important here.

With the current version of Gold Standard, DFA is proud to have nearly 100 percent of member farms in compliance. It’s a testament to the value each of us place on animal care on our farms, and tells our consumers that we are committed to transparency.