What is FARM?
Created in 2009 by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), with support from Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI), the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program raises the bar for the entire dairy industry – creating a culture of continuous improvement.The FARM Program is comprised of dairy farmers, cooperatives and processors across the United States. We hold our members to rigorous guidelines that ensure the utmost quality on our nation’s dairy farms. We understand there’s always work to be done, so the FARM Program creates a culture of continuous improvement that allows the dairy community to work every day toward positive change.
Why Does FARM Matter?
To Consumers and Dairy Customers
Today’s consumer is more invested in their food than ever before: its safety and nutritional value, how it’s produced, who’s producing it and how they treat their animals. By participating in the National Dairy FARM Program, farmers demonstrate a commitment to quality farm management practices and safe, wholesome dairy products. We are earning the trust of consumers all over the country by holding our members to the highest standard of animal care, and environmental and antibiotic stewardship.
Uniting around sound farm management practices and making smart decisions for our cows are not only ethical obligations, but vitally important to ensuring the long-term success of the dairy industry.
Through FARM, the dairy industry has come together to accomplish its goals of high-level of animal care, as well as environmental and antibiotic stewardship.
To learn more about the FARM Program’s successes, feel free to view our Years in Review:
The FARM Program protects the U.S. milk market by providing proof points to help illustrate the high level of quality care provided to animals and the environment on our nation’s dairy farms. Well cared-for cows are essential to a farm’s future – only healthy cows produce high quality and quantities of milk, the lifeblood of every dairy. A sustainable environment benefits the farm by providing recycling capabilities, proper nutrients for the land and a safe and healthy water supply for their animals and family.
To Industry Stakeholders
The FARM Program brings together all sectors of the industry -- farmers, processors, veterinarians and more -- with the goal of facilitating a productive and viable dairy industry for years to come.
How to Join the FARM Program
Individual farms, milk processors and cooperatives are welcome to join the FARM Program. Those interested in participating in the Animal Care program should complete the appropriate form and email it to Emily Yeiser Stepp, Director of FARM Animal Care. Those interested in Environmental Stewardship should contact Ryan Bennett, Senior Director of Industry & Environmental Affairs.
FARM Program Support
Stay tuned as we continue to update our website.
How to Report Animal Abuse
Willful acts of abuse are not tolerated by the FARM Program. If you witness animal abuse of any kind on a dairy please report it immediately.
What happens if animal abuse is suspected on a FARM Program participating farm?
The FARM Program has established the Willful Mistreatment Protocol that investigates credible evidence to determine if willful mistreatment of animals has occurred, and if necessary, to place a participating farm on probation.
The FARM Program will place a participating farm on probation “if willful mistreatment of animals is observed at any time.” Willful mistreatment of animals is defined by the FARM Program as follows:
“Acts that maliciously cause pain, injury or suffering including, but not limited to: needlessly applying any type of prod to a sensitive part of an animal (prods are only used when animal or human safety is in jeopardy, and as a last resort), malicious hitting or beating of an animal, movement of non-ambulatory cattle in a manner inconsistent with the National Dairy FARM Program guidelines, prolonged lack of access to feed and water, and inappropriate on-farm harvest or euthanasia.”
Upon receiving credible evidence of willful mistreatment of animals, the FARM Program will contact the program participant and the cooperative or proprietary processor with whom they are affiliated to discuss the allegation. Additionally, the FARM Program may conduct a third-party, on-site audit or on-farm investigation of alleged animal care issues. The FARM Program will use the information from the credible evidence, discussions with parties involved and the third-party, on-site audit to determine if willful mistreatment of animals occurred.
Upon conclusion of the investigation, if it is determined that willful mistreatment of animals occurred, a farm will be placed on probation. If a farm is placed on probation, both the farm and the cooperative or proprietary processor with whom they are affiliated will be notified by letter. The letter will explain the basis for the action and will detail the process to enable reinstatement into the FARM Program.
To be reinstated in the FARM Program, the farm must do the following:
• Take immediate action to discipline any employees found to have engaged in willful mistreatment of animals;
• Retrain all employees involved in animal care on the proper handling of animals;
• Conduct an on-farm audit by an independent third-party auditor utilizing the FARM Program or another industry recognized audit, such as the Validus Dairy On-Farm Animal Welfare Audit
(NOTE: the FARM Program third-party on-site verification may qualify);
• Create an Animal Care Continuous Improvement Plan with the third-party auditor and herd veterinarian that outlines the steps to be taken to address any deficiencies identified in the audit and a clear timeline for addressing any issues (NOTE: an Improvement Plan may be developed in conjunction with the FARM Program third-party on-site verification);
• Re-evaluation by a FARM Program Second-Party Evaluator after 60-90 days with demonstration of timely progress on items detailed in the Continuous Improvement Plan. With successful completion of the re-evaluation, the farm will be provisionally allowed back into the FARM Program; and
• A final follow-up evaluation, based on the timeline for completion of the Continuous Improvement Plan, no later than a year after the re-evaluation for complete reinstatement in the program.
Failure to implement the items in the Continuous Improvement Plan will result in the removal of the farm from the FARM Program.
FARM Workforce Development
NMPF is currently developing the next component of the FARM program: FARM Workforce Development. This new initiative will provide dairies across the country with guidance and best management practices around human resources (hiring, training and supervision) and worker health and safety. The expanded suite of educational materials will help farmers who want basic human resources tools and safety practices for their employees, enabling farm owners to increase worker engagement, reduce employee turnover and manage liabilities from the safety risks of dairy farming.
Expert and stakeholder input is essential for ensuring a robust program. The FARM program has put together a Workforce Development Committee comprised of farmers, cooperative staff, academics, subject matter experts and customer representatives. Members from the Committee participate in Working Groups tasked with reviewing, recommending and providing counsel on program materials.
The FARM team is pleased to share initial resources with additional materials to be released later this year.
Human Resources Legal Fact Sheets
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