The fourth version of the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management program, known as FARM 4.0 will be put into place on January 1 and will remain intact until December 31, 2022. The program was created more than ten years ago by the National Milk Producers Federation through support from Dairy Management Inc. California was the first state to voluntarily adopt the program. The FARM Animal Care Program standards reflect the latest improvements to best practices for animal management in the dairy industry.
The FARM program is a collaborative effort on behalf of dairy farmers, processors, cooperatives and other industry members to build consumer confidence in the industry through ensuring responsible production practices. After 16 months of stakeholder review, the FARM 4.0 update includes input from dairy industry members, researchers, veterinarians and animal welfare experts. One of the most notable changes made in FARM 4.0 is the requirement for Mandatory Corrective Action Plans (MCAP) to address multiple aspects of animal welfare.
One aspect of the MCAP requirement pertains to veterinarian involvement and the establishment of a written Veterinarian Client Patient Relationship. Plans will also need to address pre-weaned calf practices and protocols such as how animals are moved and the process of disbudding. MCAP’s will also be required to have detailed criteria for acceptable euthanasia practices, along with standards for non-ambulatory animal management. The latest rendition of the FARM program also sets standards for water and feed access for animals, as well as puts forth requirements for continuing education of employees.
Operations that fail to comply with MCAP specifications within nine months will be downgraded to a “Conditional Certification.” If the operation is still not within the parameters of MCAP within 60 days, the dairy operation will then be considered “Conditionally Decertified.” Processors that participate in the FARM program will be prevented from obtaining milk from operations that are Conditionally Decertified.