How to Report Animal Abuse

Willful acts of abuse are not tolerated by the FARM Program. If you witness animal abuse of any kind on a dairy please report it immediately to the dairy farm owner or local police.

FARM encourages dairy producers to implement the See it? Stop it! program. It’s an initiative providing those who work around animals with resources and guidance to immediately report instances of animal abuse, neglect, harm or mishandling. Materials, in both English and Spanish, include a program overview, initiative values, poster, brochure, PowerPoint presentation and employee agreement and checklist. See it? Stop it! helps farmers confirm their obligation to great animal care and their commitment to ensure those in contact with their animals do the same.

What happens if animal abuse is suspected on a FARM Program participating farm?

The FARM Program has established the Willful Mistreatment Protocol that investigates credible evidence to determine if willful mistreatment of animals has occurred, and if necessary, to place a participating farm on probation.

The FARM Program will place a participating farm on probation “if willful mistreatment of animals is observed at any time.” Willful mistreatment of animals is defined by the FARM Program as follows:
“Acts that maliciously cause pain, injury or suffering including, but not limited to: needlessly applying any type of prod to a sensitive part of an animal (prods are only used when animal or human safety is in jeopardy, and as a last resort), malicious hitting or beating of an animal, movement of non-ambulatory cattle in a manner inconsistent with the National Dairy FARM Program guidelines, prolonged lack of access to feed and water, and inappropriate on-farm harvest or euthanasia.”

Upon receiving credible evidence of willful mistreatment of animals, the FARM Program will contact the program participant and the cooperative or proprietary processor with whom they are affiliated to discuss the allegation. Additionally, the FARM Program may conduct a third-party, on-site audit or on-farm investigation of alleged animal care issues. The FARM Program will use the information from the credible evidence, discussions with parties involved and the third-party, on-site audit to determine if willful mistreatment of animals occurred.


Upon conclusion of the investigation, if it is determined that willful mistreatment of animals occurred, a farm will be placed on probation. If a farm is placed on probation, both the farm and the cooperative or proprietary processor with whom they are affiliated will be notified by letter. The letter will explain the basis for the action and will detail the process to enable reinstatement into the FARM Program.


To be reinstated in the FARM Program, the farm must do the following:

  • Take immediate action to discipline any employees found to have engaged in willful mistreatment of animals;
  • Retrain all employees involved in animal care on the proper handling of animals;
  • Conduct an on-farm audit by an independent third-party auditor utilizing the FARM Program or another industry recognized audit, such as the Validus Dairy On-Farm Animal Welfare Audit. (NOTE: the FARM Program third-party on-site verification may qualify);
  • Create an Animal Care Continuous Improvement Plan with the third-party auditor and herd veterinarian that outlines the steps to be taken to address any deficiencies identified in the audit and a clear timeline for addressing any issues (NOTE: an Improvement Plan may be developed in conjunction with the FARM Program third-party on-site verification);
  • Re-evaluation by a FARM Program Second-Party Evaluator after 60-90 days with demonstration of timely progress on items detailed in the Continuous Improvement Plan. With successful completion of the re-evaluation, the farm will be provisionally allowed back into the FARM Program; and
  • A final follow-up evaluation, based on the timeline for completion of the Continuous Improvement Plan, no later than a year after the re-evaluation for complete reinstatement in the program.

Failure to implement the items in the Continuous Improvement Plan will result in the removal of the farm from the FARM Program.