U.S. dairy’s value as a global solution has never been more apparent than it has been this year, with exports reaching records and domestic consumption also at historically high levels. Time and again, U.S. dairy is asserting itself as a crucial part of the global food system. And that’s why, as part of an upcoming United Nations Food Systems Summit, the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program is one of many initiatives submitted as a UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) game changer to demonstrate the innovation, leadership, and impact of U.S. dairy.

The summit will convene later this year as part of the United Nations’ “Decade of Action” to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Its aim is to raise awareness and elevate public discussion about how reforming our food systems can help achieve the SDGs. The game-changer initiative is designed to identify programs and initiatives around the world that move the collective effort in a beneficial direction — and with its many benefits to farmers as well as food systems, the FARM Program fits the bill.

To further explore and demonstrate the FARM Program’s potential as a global solution, an exclusive UNFSS virtual experience called “The National Dairy FARM Program’s game-changing U.S. dairy commitment to sustainable dairy production” was held on May, 24 2021, as part of the U.S.’s submission to the game changers. Marilyn Hershey, DMI board chair and owner of Ar-Joy Farm, and other panelists discussed the solutions that U.S. dairy provides to on-farm social responsibility.

During the panel, Hershey said U.S. dairy farmers have solutions for the challenges presented by the UN development goals, such as FARM Environmental Stewardship, the Net Zero initiative, and cooperative-specific initiatives like Land O’ Lakes Dairy 2025.

Rooted in science

Heather Anfang, senior vice president of U.S. Dairy Foods for Land O’ Lakes Inc.; Justin Potts, senior manager of Dairy 2025, FARM Animal Care and Sustainability for Land O’Lakes Inc.; and Tara Gaab, V.M.D., University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Field Service, also joined the panel to make the case for the strong value the FARM Program brings to farmers and the entire dairy supply chain.

“What I love the most about the FARM Program is that it's very science based. It takes information and data from studies and from animal welfare experts, scientists, papers, and journals, and uses that to guide the programs,” Gaab said in the panel. “A great example is responsible antibiotic use and having pain management for certain procedures like disbudding. The program is continuously evolving and taking science into account.”

By providing U.S. consumers with the necessary supply chain assurances and providing standards for animal welfare, environmental stewardship, antibiotic stewardship, and workforce development, the FARM Program serves as a valuable tool for farmers’ continuous improvement and progress toward the UN SDGs.

Hershey said the FARM Program is not a cookie cutter — there is evolution and change in this program. There is adaptation to new technologies, and it's important for us as farmers to understand that our practices will change as technology improves.

“The FARM standards help our animals thrive and help us become better farmers,” Hershey said. “It's nice to have the confidence in the program, and we realize that what FARM does for us can have a global impact.”

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2021
June 28, 2021
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