Connecting cows, cooperatives, Capitol Hill and consumers
Today's consumers want to know that the food they purchase is safe, wholesome, nutritious, and produced with integrity. U.S. milk producers are demonstrating that commitment by enrolling at a rapid pace in the National Dairy FARM Program: Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM). Created by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), along with support from Dairy Management Inc., FARM provides thorough animal care education for producers, on-farm evaluations, and objective third-party verification.
Voluntary and open to all producers, FARM is a national dairy animal care, third-party verified program designed to demonstrate dairy farmers' commitment to outstanding animal care and a quality milk supply. Independent dairy producers, proprietary processors, and cooperatives are quickly coming on board. In fact, since enrollment began in September 2010, 45 percent of the nation's milk supply now comes from farmers, cooperatives, and proprietary processors implementing the FARM program.
"Telling this story is essential at a time when consumers want to know how their food is produced," said John Miles, Land O'Lakes FARM implementation leader. "The FARM program helps us reach out to customers, consumers, and the entire marketing chain. It sends a strong message that Land O'Lakes member producers work hard caring for their animals and producing quality milk."
Participating producers are provided comprehensive training materials and undergo an on-farm evaluation conducted by a trained veterinarian, extension educator, co-op field staff member, or other FARM-trained professional. Evaluators then provide a status report and, if necessary, recommendations for improvement. To protect the integrity and credibility of the program, a certain number of participating dairy farms will be randomly selected for objective third-party verification. Validus, an Iowa-based certified auditing company with more than 10 years of experience verifying on-farm animal care, has been selected to conduct all third-party evaluations and will begin that process this summer.In addition to Land O'Lakes, participating cooperatives and proprietary producers include Agri-Mark, Inc., Hilmar Cheese Co., Foremost Farms USA, and Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers (MDVA) Cooperative. For a list of participating producers go to www.nationaldairyfarm.com