Since its beginning in 2010, the dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) program has continuously encouraged America’s dairy farmers toward continuous improvement and success through science-based husbandry practices for animal health and well-being, food safety, and especially antibiotic stewardship. Every three years the FARM program is reviewed for updates. In January 2017, the new updates will be released in Version 3.0.
FARM Version 3.0 Updates
The updates fall into two categories, Phase One Priority and Phase Two Priority. Phase One Priority requires a Mandatory Corrective Action Plan while Phase Two Priority requires a Continuous Improvement Plan.
If a farm is missing any item that is a Phase One Priority, a Mandatory Corrective Action Plan will be created between the farm and the FARM Evaluator. A re-evaluation of the farm will be required within the year and a failure to complete the Mandatory Corrective Action Plan may result in a Notice of Removal from FARM Certification.
Phase One Priority items include:
- An official Veterinarian Client Patient Relationship (VCPR) form signed by the Veterinarian of Record needs to be signed annually. Sample documents can be found on the FARM Website.
- A Dairy Cattle Care Ethics and Training form signed annually by each employee indicating they received training in stockmanship AND animal care responsibilities. This form should also state that they will not abuse animals and any observed abuse will be reported immediately. A sample of this can be found on the FARM Website.
- No tail docking after January 1, 2017. Alternatives to tail docking include switch trimming and ensuring parlor workers have protective eyewear.
If a farm has items identified during an evaluation that are a Phase Two Priority, a Continuous Improvement Plan is created. A Continuous Improvement Plan outlines the actions the farm will take to make the improvement and the timeline for completion. The re-evaluation period for a Continuous Improvement Plan is the next FARM evaluation, or about every three years (time may depend on your milk processor).
Phase Two Priority items include:
- Written protocols (SOPs) need to be in place for Newborns/Milk-fed Dairy Calves, Pain Management, Non-ambulatory Animal Management, and Euthanasia.
- Training and documentation of training received by employees that handle non-ambulatory animals.
- Animal observations for lameness, body condition, hock lesions, and knee lesions should be within their set standards.
Additional changes were made to some chapters of the FARM Animal Care Manual. These specific edits are outlined on the FARM website.
How do you get ready for FARM Version 3.0?
The updates to the FARM program have some specific items that may mean changing how you manage employees, protocols, and records on your farm. Employee training can be a big challenge for farm managers, but there are industry resources available.
- Webinar Series
Through a partnership with Merck Animal Health, the FARM program is offering a webinar series to help farms meet the needs of the dairy industry concerning employee training and critical animal care topics. The first webinar is on September 29 and focuses on “Dairy Stockmanship Skills”.
- Employee Meetings
Additionally, farm managers may want to consider holding monthly or weekly employee meetings to help communicate the expectations for each employee’s role within the FARM standards. Taking time to get everyone on the same page is critical to the overall success and productivity of the dairy farm and maintaining an efficient, safe work environment.
- On-Farm Trainings
Sometimes a webinar may not meet your farm’s specific needs for an area that requires employee training, or a challenge arises. What option do you have? In some instances an on-farm training may better suit your farm’s needs. The SDSU Extension Dairy Team may be able to assist you with creating an employee training program. Contact Heidi Carroll (SDSU Extension Livestock Stewardship Associate), Tracey Erickson (SDSU Extension Dairy Field Specialist), or Maristela Rovai (Assistant Professor & SDSU Extension Dairy Specialist) for more information. Other dairy industry companies and consulting professionals may also be able to assist you with on-farm, customized training on critical topics that arise.
Additional information about the Version 3.0 updates to the dairy FARM program can be found on the National Dairy FARM Program website under the “FARM Program Version 3.0 Materials” section.