The members of California’s Dairy Cares coalition,made up of dairy farmers and dairy processors, have adopted the National Dairy FARM Program: Farmers Assuring Responsible Management as a statewide program to promote and verify responsible animal care.
“Responsible care and treatment of animals is a core value for our dairy families, and we know it’s important to dairy consumers,” said William C. Van Dam, chairman of the statewide Dairy Cares coalition. “This new program is a major step forward for our state, in that it provides a credible, verifiable way for dairy farmers to demonstrate to consumers that these core values are carried out in our daily management practices.”
Developed by the nation’s leading animal scientists, veterinarians and dairy industry experts, the National Dairy FARM Program contains a comprehensive set of animal care best management practices. As the nation’s leader in milk production, California dairy farmers are among the first in the nation to adopt the effort. Because California’s dairy products are marketed nationally and internationally, California dairy farmers recognize the importance of participating in a nationwide program to ensure national uniformity for customers and consumers.
“Actions, not words, are the only way to maintain and build trust with our consumers,” said Jamie Bledsoe, a dairy farmer from Riverdale and co-chair of the Dairy Cares Animal Well-Being Committee. “We’ve always cared for our animals, and now we have a program in place to validate that we care. And in those rare instances when animal care doesn’t measure up, we have a program to identify issues and address them.”
Dairy Cares will promote Dairy FARM throughout California using a five-point strategy, which includes:
1 – Adoption of the National Dairy FARM animal care best practice standards;
2 – Orientation of dairy farmers to National Dairy FARM standards through workshops and educational materials from the University of California and California Dairy Quality Assurance Program;
3 – On-farm evaluation of each dairy farm to assess compliance and provide a benchmark to measure improvement;
4 – Producer support and assistance to continuously improve animal care practices; and
5 – Independent third-party verification to demonstrate program integrity and credibility.