During the past decade, the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) program has allowed the dairy industry to collectively document the good work that dairy farmers across the country are doing in the areas of animal care, as well as environmental and antibiotic stewardship. It also helps farmers, through the use of uniform industry standards, by limiting the number of splintered guidelines used by retailers across the United States.
Now operating under its third version since its inception, plans for FARM Animal Care 4.0 are under development.
“Thus far, new focus areas for FARM 4.0 discussed by our technical writing group have been a true capture of how the industry is adopting pain management practices for disbudding and more specific best management practices regarding freedom of movement,” shared Emily Yeiser Stepp, senior director for animal care for the FARM program. She spoke with those attending the annual gathering of the National Milk Producers Federation, the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board, and the United Dairy Industry Association in Phoenix, Ariz., during late October.
Existing standards for veterinary-client-patient relationships (VCPR), worker animal care training, nonambulatory animals, euthanasia, tail docking, feed, and water will remain focus areas moving into Version 4.0. When it comes to tail docking, 99.9 percent of the 17,250 farms visited year-to-date by FARM evaluators were in compliance with the prohibition against the practice.
Dairy farmer advisory council
After conducting an independent survey with Colorado State University, FARM program leaders made the decision to add a dairy farmer advisory council. Members of that newly formed council will include 20 dairy farmers from 14 co-ops and two direct shippers to private cheese companies.
As for USDA’s pilot project on tetracycline testing, a project also monitored by the FARM program, there have been 300,000 samples taken to date. The results have been glowing, with an exceedingly low number of positives detected in milk.