The National Dairy FARM Program - Farmers Assuring Responsible Management - was launched last year. It's a national, voluntary program created by the National Milk Producers Federation to bring consistency and uniformity to animal care through education, on-farm evaluations and objective third-party verification.
NMPF's Chris Galen notes it's just something that's needed in light of today's animal rights movement.
"This most recent undercover videotape from Ohio of the veal operation, while that doesn't directly impact dairy, I think it is just further evidence that we are going to continue to see pressure from the animal rights community and that we need to have everything demonstrated about proper animal care on dairy farms," Galen said.
Galen says the first phase of the program provided educational materials to producers through the release of the Animal Care Manual and the Quick Reference User Guide. An Animal Care DVD is also available. The video highlights best management practices for a variety of issues including animal health, environment and facilities, animal nutrition, and transportation and handling. The content of the video is consistent with the principles and guidelines of the National Dairy Animal Well-Being Initiative introduced in 2008.
NMPF is starting phase two of the program: enrollment. Individual producers or cooperatives will enroll in the program stating that they want to participate to demonstrate their commitment to their customers and ultimately consumers about the standards they have in place for animal care.
"They then take those educational materials and provide them to their field staff and ultimately to farmers," Galen said. "And then you can talk to your customers and consumers that you are part of a national program that has independent verification."
Galen says that's important given the attitudes of consumers today and it sets this program apart from others that are similar in nature.
Those producers, co-ops, processors and state and regional dairy producer organizations interested in participating in the National Dairy FARM Program can contact NMPF. More information is available at www.nationaldairyfarm.com.