The National Milk Producers Federation last week released new updates to a handbook that's part of the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management program.
The changes reflect evolving management practices and expectations for animal care from the entire dairy value chain, said NMPF COO Jim Mulhern.
The FARM Program was created four years ago to establish a national, voluntary dairy animal care program to bring consistency and uniformity to the practices used on America's dairy farms.
The original reference manual was used to guide animal care practices on farms that have enrolled in the program since 2009; this new manual will now be provided to those both currently enrolled, and those who will become part of the program going forward, NMPF noted.
Several stakeholders took part in the manual revisions and it also includes findings from a third-party verification process that began in 2011.
Among the improvements in the new manual is the overall checklist used to evaluate farms has been streamlined from 77 questions to 48, "simplifying the process for farmers, and more effectively capturing the pertinent information that animal care experts believe is relevant to proper dairy animal care," Mulhern said.