Dairy farmers enrolled in the National FARM Program through the National Milk Producers Federation can expect Version 5 updates to be implemented starting July 1, 2024. Emily Yeiser Stepp, the executive director of the National FARM Program, recently joined the Professional Dairy Producers’ “Dairy Signal” podcast to talk through the updates.

Yeiser Stepp commented that there were no major changes in the Version 5 update; the changes were just refinements to the existing program. In the animal care portion, farmers can expect to see the following adjustments.

Locomotion: Updates further address locomotion scores and establish a benchmark of 15% moderate lameness.

Disbudding: Pain management standards will be moved to the Mandatory Corrective Action Plan (MCAP). Acceptable methods are now outlined as caustic paste and cautery.

Euthanasia: Farms should Identify both a primary and secondary individual for euthanasia implementation. Confirmation of death should also be included in the protocol.

Calves: There will be revisions on how colostrum feeding standards are evaluated. Farms need to meet guidelines for quantity (10% of birth weight), quality (visual colostrometer, for example), and timeliness (within six hours) or have evidence of successful transfer of passive immunity.

Continued education: The family employee standard is now moved to MCAP.

Yeiser Stepp also covered updates to the Environmental Stewardship program, which not all producers are enrolled in. This program will see a new model that is more dynamic and has the ability to do more scenario building. The previous model gave farmers an Environmental Sustainability (ES) Score, but some found it difficult to apply the number. The new model will give farmers the option to change numbers and scenarios to see how it affects their ES Score. If farmers have a current ES Score, their inputs will be run again through the new model to create an updated ES Score. This new model will go live July 1, 2024, and be refined through the remainder of the year.

In addition, the Farm Workforce Development program will see reordering and reclassification of questions asked.

The National FARM Program will be seeking new members for various task forces and their farmer advisory council at the end of 2024 for any farmers interested. More information on the program can be found at nationaldairyfarm.com.

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April 25, 2024
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