The Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program, administered by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), is assuming management of the Farm Smart Program, previously managed by Dairy Management Inc. Farm Smart, an environmental stewardship module for farmers to measure improvements they make in the area of sustainability, will become the voluntary Environmental Stewardship component of the FARM Program, NMPF announced this week.
The FARM Environmental Stewardship module integrates the methodology and science of Farm Smart, a carbon footprint assessment tool created by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. Farm Smart has been field-tested in several full supply chain pilots and is familiar to the dairy cooperative, processor and retailer communities but is still relatively new at the farm level. Farm Smart's science-based models are being fully integrated into FARM Environmental Stewardship but will be updated in the future through a partnership between NMPF and the innovation center.
As dairy companies are increasingly asked for information about their environmental practices, the FARM Environmental Stewardship program will allow for the collection and dissemination of information on energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The assessment will also help dairy producers identify potential efficiency gains and cost savings, offering the ability to track progress using a secure, confidential platform.
“FARM Environmental Stewardship is a natural addition to the existing FARM Program pillars — FARM Animal Care and FARM Antibiotic Residue Avoidance — because it will help dairy farmers communicate another positive story with consumers,” said Jim Mulhern, president and chief executive officer of NMPF. “FARM Environmental Stewardship will now begin down the important path of gaining insight, support and engagement at the cooperative and producer level.”
This fall and winter, the FARM Program will hold webinars, release training materials and provide farm resources to assist farmers and companies that want to begin utilizing the assessments. The module will be previewed this November at the FARM Evaluator Conference in Nashville, Tenn., held in conjunction with the NMPF Joint Annual Meeting. An online tutorial will also be made available later this year to cooperatives and producers looking to learn more.
Administration of FARM Environmental Stewardship will be managed by Ryan Bennett, NMPF’s senior director for industry and environmental affairs, with overall FARM Program oversight by Emily Meredith, chief of staff.