The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and Dairy Management Inc.™ (DMI) have announced the introduction of the National Dairy FARM Program: Farmers Assuring Responsible Management. A joint effort of the two organizations, Dairy FARM has been formed to bolster consumer trust and confidence in the U.S. dairy industry and demonstrate the industry's commitment to the highest levels of animal care and quality assurance.
"Increasingly, consumers want to purchase products from sources they can trust to do the right thing,” said Jerry Kozak, president and chief executive officer of NMPF. "The National Dairy FARM Program was established to enhance the trust our industry has with consumers and demonstrate the commitment producers have to animal care and the production of wholesome products.”
According to Kozak, Dairy FARM's first step in reaching this goal will be to introduce a national on-farm animal well-being program and make it available to all producers. The Dairy FARM animal well-being program will be consistent with the National Dairy Animal Well-Being Initiative's (NDAWI) principles and guidelines. NDAWI is a producer-led effort to build consumer trust and confidence in the dairy industry's commitment to animal well-being. More information on the NDAWI principles and guidelines can be found at www.dairywellbeing.org.
To accomplish this, NMPF and DMI are revising its "Caring for Dairy Animals” manual by incorporating the principles and guidelines into the new program. The "Caring for Dairy Animals” manual includes best management practices for a variety of animal care issues including animal health and on-farm environment, facilities/housing, nutrition, equipment/milking procedures, transportation and handling, and more. The manual will be updated to reflect current animal-health practices, innovations and technology.
The long-term plan of the Dairy FARM animal well-being program will be announced later this year. Co-ops and processors may choose to participate in the program to bring consistency to dairy animal care nationwide. NMPF and DMI will work with co-ops, processors and state and regional dairy producer organizations to implement it.
In order enhance the program's validity, NMPF and DMI are also working together to develop third-party program verification to assure credibility and effectiveness. Additional Dairy FARM initiatives designed to assure the quality, safety and wholesomeness of dairy products will be introduced in the future.
"Consumers want to know that dairy products are safe, wholesome and nutritious, and that animals receive the highest level of care,” said Tom Gallagher, chief executive officer of DMI. "A national program will create a strong platform on which we can further build consumer confidence.”
NMPF and DMI have assembled an advisory panel to help guide the overall direction of Dairy FARM. The panel is comprised of dairy experts and industry professionals representing many facets of the industry. Members of the Dairy FARM advisory panel include:
- Stan Andre, California Milk Advisory Board
- Marguerite Copel, Dean Foods
- John Frey, Pennsylvania Center for Dairy Excellence
- Mary Kamm, Safeway Inc.
- John Kennedy, Kraft Foods
- Shelly Mayer, Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin
- Dr. M. Gatz Riddell, American Association of Bovine Practitioners
- Allen Sayler, International Dairy Foods Association
- Lynn Schmoe, Washington Dairy Products Commission
"Dairy animal care is a top priority for producers throughout the country,” said Gatz Riddell, executive vice president of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners. "I'm pleased that NMPF and DMI are taking the appropriate step by launching the National Dairy FARM Program.”
For more information on the National Milk Producers Federation, please visit www.nmpf.org. For more information on Dairy Management Inc, please visit www.dairycheckoff.com.