At its annual meeting, the board of directors for National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) unanimously agreed that all member dairy marketing organizations must achieve 100 percent producer participation in the national Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) program.
Now in its fifth year, the FARM program consists of practices that demonstrate farmers’ commitment to responsible animal care. In addition to dairy cooperatives, the program is open to individual farmers.
Cooperatives handling 75 percent of the nation’s milk supply are participating in the FARM program, although not all farms involved in those organizations have reviewed and adopted the program’s practices.
Under the new policy, cooperatives and processors must require that every farmer supplying them enroll in the program.
NMPF Board Chairman Randy Mooney, who is also chairman of DFA’s Board of Directors, hailed the vote.
“The FARM program has become the dairy industry animal care standard because of its integrity, rigor and authenticity,” Mooney says. “This decision means each farm in a participating cooperative will be held to the same high standards, with no exceptions. It demonstrates that the nation’s dairy farms, regardless of size, are committed to high-quality animal care across the supply chain.”
DFA’s Board of Directors has set a goal to achieve 100 percent participation in the Gold Standard Dairy Program, which uses the FARM program as its animal care component, including the FARM third-party verification. DFA’s goal is to achieve this by the end of 2015.
The third-party verifications are conducted by Validus and are meant to establish creditability of the assessments taking place on dairy farms. This verification process is not an audit of the dairy producer, but to confirm the information observed in the original assessment.
From a national pool of dairy farmers, approximately 100 producers are selected to participate in the third-party verifications each year.