VCPR benefits everyone

Written by Peyson Shields
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Communication on a dairy operation is crucial to understanding what roles each individual plays. From 10 cows to 10,000, cow care is the most important factor — not only for a herd’s health, but also to ensure high-quality milk — and documenting who is responsible for the animals’ care is imperative.

Documentation is an important part of DFA’s Gold Standard Dairy Program. The Gold Standard Program utilizes the industry-wide Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program as its animal care and wellness component, which sets industry guidelines for animal care.

This September, FARM is launching its third version of the program: FARM 3.0. This version has undergone extensive review and revision with the help of industry experts and dairy producers, including DFA members and staff, including DFA member and veterinarian Dr. Karen Jordan. As chair of National Milk Producers Federation’s Animal Health and Wellbeing committee, Jordan sees FARM from multiple perspectives — she’s even worked on and/or chaired each of the three technical writing groups that have undertaken the task of rewriting FARM.

To get ready for 3.0, producers are encouraged to start documenting their practices. One of the most important and simplest ways for producers to start the documentation process is through a Veterinary Client/Patient Relationship (VCPR) form. 

“The VCPR is important to the dairyman and the veterinarian,” Jordan says. “It establishes a working relationship between the dairy farmer and veterinarian of record (VOR). The VOR is the responsible party for providing appropriate oversight of drug use on the farm operation. This oversight is a critical component of establishing, maintaining and validating a VCPR.” 

Jordan understands that most dairy farmers already have a VOR and working relationship with them. Now, FARM is just asking that producers document that relationship — which is exactly what a VCPR does.

When it comes to looking through the glass two different ways, Jordan’s experiences have given her the knowledge to see documenting a VCPR from a veterinarian and producer perspective.

“As a veterinarian, I want to document to the consumer and to FDA (should there be a residue issue/concern) that we are working together to care for animals and use antibiotics appropriately,” Jordan says.

“As a producer, the VCPR shows that I have a working relationship with my veterinarian. My veterinarian is part of my team in developing protocols for how to take care of my animals in the best way possible.” 

To be in good standing with FARM 3.0, producers must have a VCPR on file.

Jordan has been a DFA member since Mid-America Dairymen Inc. merged with three other cooperatives to form DFA in 1998. She and her husband milk 80 Brown Swiss cows on Brush Creek Swiss Farms in Siler City, N.C.