Highest Standards

National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program raises the bar for the entire dairy industry – creating a culture of continuous improvement. The FARM Program is comprised of dairy farmers, cooperatives and processors across the United States holding our members to rigorous guidelines for animal care, environmental and antibiotic stewardship that ensure the utmost quality on our nation’s dairy farms.Unknown Object

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Safe, Wholesome Milk

The safety and wholesomeness of milk starts at the farm. By following strict guidelines related to treating sick animals, all dairy consumers can feel confident that they are consuming the safest and most nutritious products for themselves and their families.Unknown Object

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June Dairy Month | Animal Care

Healthy, comfortable, well-cared for cows are of utmost importance to dairy farmers. The FARM Animal Care Program sets the highest standards for farmers and their entire management team, including veterinarians, nutritionists, and hoof trimmers, to ensure the best care for their cows every day.


Meet the Hoffmans – National BQA Dairy Award Winners

It’s easy to see what’s important to the Hoffmans: cows and family.

“Family is pretty much the reason we are here,” said daughter Tricia.

Located in upstate Pennsylvania, Hoffman Family Farm began in 1976 with just 40 cows and 400 acres, operated by Tricia’s parents, Dale and Carol Hoffman (pictured). When the family expanded, so did the farm. As the children grew up and returned to the farm, the facility grew even more. And when the grandchildren came, the farm expanded yet again. Today, the farm is home to 800 milking cows that are milked three times a day and produce two million pounds of milk per month.

Responsibilities on the Hoffman’s farm are divided between family members and 10 employees. While Dale and Carol own the farm, their children have their own roles. Keith is the herdsman and Brad is the “crop and heifer man.” Tricia is both the calf feeder and office manager. Josh handles the financial and technological elements of the operation. Even the grandsons are involved full time. Brad’s son Colton is a fellow herdsman and other son Coy is a feeder. What’s more, other family members can often be seen on the farm on their days off.

“It’s just our way of life,” says Tricia. “We work hard every day by using routine, consistency and efficiency, plus surrounding yourself with people who also think like that.”

Dairy farmers across the United States are not only responsible for providing the nation and world with a safe, wholesome milk supply, but also safe, nutritious beef. Almost 20 percent of the U.S. beef supply is sourced from dairy cows. This is a responsibility the Hoffman’s do not take lightly. They know they must maintain healthy cows to produce a quality product.

As participants of the National Dairy FARM Program and the Beef Quality Assurance program, the Hoffmans follow strict animal care guidelines to keep their animals in tip-top shape. Tricia says the family’s relationship with their veterinarian is of utmost importance. The vet stops by every two weeks for a herd health check, and has provided plenty of useful tips to improve overall cow health. Working closely with him, she says, has allowed the Hoffmans to customize a routine and plan for their operation.

Other animal care guidelines the Hoffmans follow include vaccination protocols and employee training to ensure a calm, consistent environment around the cows.

To help share their story of quality animal care, the Hoffmans invite visitors onto the farm and regularly share information about their lives through their social media channels.

Beef Quality Assurance is a nationally coordinated, state-implemented program that provides information to U.S. beef producers and beef consumers of how common sense husbandry techniques can be coupled with accepted scientific knowledge to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions. BQA guidelines are designed to make certain all beef consumers can take pride in what they purchase – and can trust and have confidence in the entire beef industry.

The FARM Program is proud to partner with BQA to provide educational resources to cattlemen and dairymen. 

WEBINAR PREVIEW: Emerging Issues

February 9, 2017 | 12:00 pm EST | Watch Here

The roster of standard operating procedures and recommended practices on dairy farms is evolving, shaped by new technology, new science, and practical experience. What is new is that this evolution is increasingly driven by both measurable animal welfare outcomes and by societal pressures about what is acceptable, as expressed by the clear and unequivocal expectations of our customers. The trust previously granted to farmers has been eroded, in part, by a continued barrage of coordinated campaigns promulgated by animal rights groups. Dr. Jamie Jonker will discuss a variety of issues from polled genetics to dam-calf separation to antibiotic-use which are emerging issues identified by our consumers, customers, advocacy groups, and regulators.


Jamie Jonker, PhD
Vice President, Sustainability & Scientific Affairs, NMP
Washington, D.C.

In his current role, Jamie has general responsibilities in sustainability and scientific affairs, including animal health and welfare, animal biotechnology, dairy farm bio-security, dairy farm air and water quality, dairy farm sustainability, and technical service issues.  He is also involved in coordinating relations with the Federation’s Animal Health & Wellbeing Committee and Environmental Issues Committee. Dr. Jonker is active representing the Federation on numerous national and international committees, including the U.S. Animal Health Association (USAHA), the International Dairy Federation (IDF), the World Animal Health Organization (OIE), Codex Alimentarius (Codex), the Sustainability Council of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, and the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD).  He serves on the U.S. Animal Health Association Board of Directors. He serves as Chair of the IDF Standing Committee on Farm Management, Past-Chair of the IDF Expert Group on Animal Feeding, and is additionally a member of the IDF Standing Committees on Animal Health and Welfare, Residues & Chemical Contaminants, Environment and Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance.  Dr. Jonker has also served on the IDF Delegations to the Codex Committee on Residues of Veterinary Drugs, the Codex Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Animal Feeding, and the Codex Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance. Jamie received his B.S. degree and M.S. degree from Cornell University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland.  Prior to joining NMPF, his career included 6 years of experience in agricultural policy including service at the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture.


Why is the topic of emerging issues important to the dairy industry?
It is critical to understand what upcoming pressures that the dairy industry will need to prepare for in the future. Many of these emerging issues have the ability to have a significant impact on what we do to effectively manage our dairy farms.

How will these emerging issues make a difference within the greater dairy industry?
These emerging issues have the potential to make a significant difference in the day to day management of our dairy operations. In each of these issues, NMPF and FARM are proactively engaging in conversations to steer them in the appropriate directions to advocate for the dairy farmer.

Why should dairy producers care about the emerging issues?
The emerging issues that will be discussed will have a direct impact on dairy producers and have the possibility of affecting their ability to have a continued milk market in the future. These issues will challenge producers to think outside of the box and identify ways to potentially adapt and address some of these areas on their operation.

How will FARM help industry stakeholders proactively address emerging issues?
As FARM interacts with all industry stakeholders, strategic planning will take place so that the entire dairy community is not only aware but can be proactive to address issues in order to better position the dairy industry into the future with a secure, vibrant milk market.

This webinar is part the of the Merck Dairy C.A.R.E & FARM Animal Care Webinar series. You can view past webinars here.

WEBINAR PREVIEW: Preparing for the Unexpected

January 26, 2017 | 12:00 pm EST | Watch Here

Preparation is the key to avoiding an emergency and will save you valuable time, if and when an emergency happens on your farm. A preparedness plan should cover a variety of issues that could arise on the farm from a natural disaster to a herd health epidemic. In this webinar, Rick Jackson, U.S. dairy product manager, Merck Animal Health, explains how to develop an on-farm preparedness plan, as outlined in the Dairy C.A.R.E. Initiative, and walks through possible scenarios and how to put a plan in place to deal with them.


Rick Jackon
U.S. Dairy Product Manager
DeSoto, Kansas

Rick Jackson has made a lifelong commitment to the dairy industry. Growing up on a dairy in the Ottawa Valley in Canada, he began his career with a strong focus upon the care and well-being of animals.

After graduation from the University of Guelph, Rick entered the dairy cattle nutrition field, which again led to his focus on proper health, nutrition and care of dairy animals. His focus has led him into dairy management roles in New York, as well as Vermont.

Rick has been with Merck Animal Health for 10 years and is truly living his dream of helping someone every day. The C.A.R.E. initiative provides him with the ultimate opportunity to protect the dairy industry.


Why is the topic of emergency preparedness important to the dairy industry?
Proactive plus prepared equals protection for the dairy farmer, his/her animals and businesses. Dairy farmers spend their lives caring for their animals and producing nutritious products for consumer dinner tables. One unanticipated situation can quickly undo their great work and shake consumer confidence in the industry. Trying to figure out what to do in the middle of an emergency never puts anyone in the best position to respond. Anticipating those things that “could” happen and planning in advance to handle them takes the “heat out of the moment” and allows the industry to focus on what is most important to manage the situation at hand.

Where should a dairy farmer begin in order to develop a preparedness plan?
A risk ranking exercise is a great place to start when developing a preparedness plan in order to determine what is most likely to happen on your farm. There are some universal emergencies that could happen to anyone, like severe weather events, herd health issues or on-farm accidents. But, maybe you live close to an urban area and issues with neighbors are likely. Start by anticipating the unanticipated. Make a list of everything that could happen on your farm. Include possible issues like encountering community resistance to farm expansion. Assign a numerical probability of each event happening from one to 10 (one least likely, 10 very likely). Then assign a numerical rating to the impact it would have on your operation from one to 10 (one – very little impact, 10 – would shut your operation down). Now multiply those numbers: Likelihood x impact. You will quickly see the top three to five challenges you might face. Start with those and build your plan from there.

What are the key components of a preparedness plan?
A response team, an emergency contact list (required under FARM 3.0) and a plan to manage the flow of information to impacted audiences are three key components of any solid preparedness plan. Once you have identified the top three to five emergencies that could happen on your farm, put a team in place to help you manage them. Think through who you would ask to advise you (attorney? veterinarian?). Who will update your customers and employees? Who will inform stakeholders? Who will take care of the animals and secure your property? Who will speak to the media? Identifying your team and developing a plan to manage an emergency is very complicated in the heat of the moment, so take some time to thoughtfully prepare when things are calm.

What do you feel is the most important factor when managing an emergency?
A quick response to ensure that all people and animals are safe followed by open and transparent communication with impacted audiences. Safety is paramount – always. Then it is important to let your audience know what you are doing to manage and resolve the situation at hand.

Why is proper training important for dairy operations to implement in advance of an emergency?
Every farm with livestock should have a preparedness plan and a response team in place to handle emergency situations. It is vital that employees are trained on the plan and know who to call if they suspect an issue or need help.  They also need to know who will be communicating with them and what their roles are – or aren’t – to manage the situation.

How will FARM help industry stakeholders in the area of emergency preparedness? 
The FARM program and the National Milk Producers Federation are standing by to help in times of emergencies. Additionally, through partnerships with industry stakeholders, like Merck Animal Health, they are making tools and resources available to help dairy farmers put the policies and procedures in place to protect their animals and their businesses. The Merck Animal Health Dairy C.A.R.E. Initiative was developed to support the significant efforts of dairy producers to provide the best quality of care for their animals 24 x 7. It includes preparedness planning tools and templates, tips and guidance on how to prepare for the unexpected. The tools are available online at dairycare365.com, nationaldairyfarm.com, or you can speak to your Merck Animal Health sales representative.

This webinar is part the of the Merck Dairy C.A.R.E & FARM Animal Care Webinar series. You can view the FAQs and full schedule here.

WEBINAR PREVIEW: Pain Management

January 19, 2017 | 12:00 pm EST | Watch HereUnknown Object


Pain can be defined as an unpleasant physical sensation occurring in varying degrees of severity as consequence of injury, disease or from a medical or management procedure. The goal of any dairy is prevent animals from experiencing any type of pain throughout their lifetime to ensure their well-being. Unfortunately, there are times when painful procedures must be conducted for the animals’ health and safety and for employee safety. While necessary, it is critical to reduce the amount of pain animals experience during and after these procedures to ensure long term well-being and productivity. The webinar will discuss and provide pain mitigation options and management tools that producers can use in order to effectively manage pain that animals may experience during necessary procedures and in times of injury or disease.


Hans Coetzee DVM, PhD

Department of Anatomy and Physiology

Kansas State University

Dr. Hans Coetzee is a Professor and Head of the Department of Anatomy and Physiology at Kansas State University. He obtained his Bachelor of Veterinary Science degree from the University of Pretoria, South Africa in 1996. After graduation he worked for four years in mixed animal practice in Northern Ireland followed by 2 years in pharmaceutical research and development at Norbrook Laboratories Ltd. He received a specialist Certificate in Cattle Health and Production from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (London) in 2000 and a doctorate in Veterinary Microbiology from Iowa State University in 2005. He holds dual board certification in the American College of Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology and American College of Animal Welfare and is a European Specialist in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law. His professional interests include the development of analgesic drug regimens for use in food animals and therapy of bovine anaplasmosis. He has published 108 peer-reviewed scientific papers and received over $8 million in research funding. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his wife and his twin daughters.

Q & A WITH DR. Coetzee

Why is the topic of pain management important to the dairy industry?

Consumers are interested in how their food is produced and they consider livestock producers to be the custodians of animal welfare. While dairymen do an outstanding job in taking care of the daily needs of the animals under their care, pain management on the farm in often overlooked. Many of the routine livestock management practices performed on dairy operations, such as dehorning and castration, are painful. In these instances, it is not unreasonable for consumers to expect that producers are taking proactive steps to minimizing pain and distress. Although there are several challenges associated with providing effective pain relief in livestock in the United States, these should not be an impediment to our industry meeting our moral and ethical obligations towards the animals in our care.

How can proper pain management make a difference within the greater dairy industry?

Aside from being an expectation that consumers have that producers will provide pain management at the time of painful procedures, this practices also reduces stress on the animal and the livestock caregiver. The use of local anesthesia at disbudding for example reduces aversive behavioral responses from the animal making them easier to handle. There is also evidence that pain management improves average daily weight gain in calves over 10 days after dehorning and may also reduce the incidence of bovine respiratory disease in older calves. Pain management can therefore represent a win-win for the animal, the producer and the industry at large.

Why should dairy producers care about pain management?

Routine management procedures such as dehorning and castration are painful. As the custodians of animal welfare, producers have a moral and ethical obligation to reduce or prevent pain in the animals under their care. Pain management also reduces animal distress and also facilitates the safe handling of animals during the time of the procedure.  Research has also shown that animals that receive analgesia have improved average daily weight gain and reduced incidence of disease.

Why is proper training in pain management important for dairy operations to implement?

Currently there are no drugs specifically approved by FDA for pain management. As a result, pain management constitutes extra-label drug use. Under Federal law, extra-label drug use is legal provided this occurs under the direction and supervision of a veterinarian. Dairy producers are therefore encouraged to develop pain management protocols with their veterinarian. Caregivers should also be trained on the correct method for administering a local anesthetic drug and have knowledge of the meat and milk withhold periods of the drugs involved.

What do you feel is the most important factor that leads to sound pain management practices on dairy farms?

Education. This is education in the recognition of pain in animals, the techniques for providing pain management and the prudent use of pharmaceutical compounds to alleviate pain in animals.

What is the most common mistake dairy producers/employees make related to pain management?

They fail to recognize routine management practices as being painful and they fail consult with their veterinarian to develop pain management protocols.

How will FARM help industry stakeholders raise the bar for pain management?

Increase awareness of procedures that are painful and proactive steps that producers can take to alleviate pain in animals.

This webinar is part the of the Merck Dairy C.A.R.E & FARM Animal Care Webinar series. You can view the FAQs and full schedule here.