SALEM, Ohio — A new program called Farmers Assuring Responsible Management has been created to boost consumer confidence in the U.S. dairy industry.
Designed to show the dairy industry’s commitment to the highest levels of animal care and quality assurance, Farmers Assuring Responsible Management is a joint effort between the National Milk Producers Federation and Dairy Management Inc.
The first component of the program is a national on-farm animal well-being program. This well-being program will be consistent with the National Dairy Animal Well-Being Initiative, which is a producer-led effort to offer uniform guidelines on animal nutrition, health, management, housing, handling and third-party verification.
John Frey, director of the Pennsylvania Center for Dairy Excellence and a member of the FARM advisory panel, said the new program is “taking NDAWI to the next level.”
“This program is really the next step in that process,” he added.
The National Milk Producers Federation and Dairy Management Inc. are revising their Caring for Dairy Animals manual and incorporating the principles and guidelines into the new program. Caring for Dairy Animals includes best management practices for a variety of animal care issues and will be updated to reflect current animal health practices.
With food awareness at an all-time high, Frey said farmers are often interested in programs that verify safe, ethical production methods.
“Farmers are very aware the consuming public’s interest in this is at a new level,” he said.
Tom Gallagher, CEO of Dairy Management Inc., said a national program will help build consumer confidence.
“Consumers want to know that dairy products are safe, wholesome and nutritious, and that animals receive the highest level of care,” he said.
The long-term plan of the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management program will be announced later in 2009. Co-ops and processors may choose to participate if they wish. Claims made through the FARM program will be verified by a third party.
A panel of dairy experts and industry professionals will guide the direction of Farmers Assuring Responsible Management as it develops. Panel members include: