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Dairy FARM program announces version 4.0 changes

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Updated version requires dairy farmers who still practice tail docking to cease practice.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), with support from Dairy Management Inc., announced Sept. 26 updates to animal care standards under the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Animal Care program after a rigorous 16-month stakeholder review.

The fourth iteration of the FARM Animal Care Program’s standards supports closer farmer/veterinarian relationships, requires continuing education for all employees and adds a new standard for pain management when disbudding animals. As with previous versions of FARM Animal Care, a robust suite of materials that include templates, frequently asked questions, continuing education videos and other resource tools will be made available to help producers meet the outlined standards. These resources are available to producers through their cooperative or processor and can be found on the FARM Resources webpage, with hard copies also available upon request.

“FARM’s Animal Care Program 4.0 underscores the dairy community’s commitment to continually improving animal care and incorporating the latest animal welfare research, demonstrating to consumers that dairy is a leader in the humane and ethical care of our animals,” NMPF president and chief executive officer Jim Mulhern said. “We are committed to ensuring that farms are prepared to meet the updated standards and that the supply chain -- from farm to fork -- has full transparency as well as high-quality dairy products.”

Farmers nationwide, dairy veterinarians, animal welfare experts and dairy industry leaders were all represented in drafting and approving the new standards, which received 370 submissions that guided final decisions made on Version 4.0.

The following significant changes go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020:

  • If tail docking is found to have continued to occur, immediate action must be taken to cease the practice.
  • Standards that generate a mandatory corrective action plan — ranging from veterinarian engagement (veterinarian/client/patient relationship and herd health plan review), calf care, non-ambulatory animal, euthanasia and fitness to transport management practices and disbudding prior to eight weeks of age — will need to be addressed within nine months of the evaluation.

FARM Animal Care is updated once every three years to ensure relevance to current industry best management practices and scientific research related to on-farm animal care. For additional specifics on the standards updates, click here.

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