FARM Environmental Stewardship Version 3
The FARM Environmental Stewardship Program regularly reviews and incorporates new science to (1) ensure robust and reliable results and (2) meet expanding interests and needs of farmers and FARM Program participants. Programmatic updates and accountability measures are governed by the FARM Environmental Stewardship Task Force, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) Environmental Issues Committee, and the NMPF Board of Directors with input from industry stakeholder groups including farmers, researchers, academics, FARM Program participants and more. The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy’s environmental research team leads scientific research to keep the model current with the latest scientific advancements. They regularly collaborate with researchers from leading academic and research institutions, both domestically and internationally. The FARM Program is currently in the process of facilitating the development of FARM Environmental Stewardship Program Version 3, focusing on a scientific update to the greenhouse gas model that powers the tool in collaboration with the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.
High-Level Description and Timeline
NMPF and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy are collaborating to update the greenhouse gas (GHG) model that powers the FARM Environmental Stewardship Program. When FARM Environmental Stewardship Program Version 3 launches in July 2024, FARM Environmental Stewardship Program will transition to a “process-based” model through work with Ruminant Farm Systems (RuFaS) – an initiative involving researchers from across the country focused on environmental modeling of dairy farms.
Shifting to a process-based model offers several benefits for addressing customer requests while offering more insights to farmers and FARM Program participants:
- A more robust and accurate model while remaining practical and easy to use
- Farm-level environmental and economic insights through scenario analyses to support informed decision-making about the adoption of practices and technology
- Increased functions to enable farmers, cooperatives and processors to work with supply chain customers interested in investing in on-farm interventions and GHG reductions.
Model refinement and testing
Develop and refine a simplified version of the RuFaS model in which select data inputs are replaced by tested, default values to provide a robust, but streamlined, experience similar to the current FARM Environmental Stewardship Program tool. Through this phase, researchers will complete model validation efforts with a diverse set of farms, conduct sensitivity analyses, define the simplified list of data inputs and develop default values for remaining inputs.
Develop scenarios to include in the FARM Environmental Stewardship Program
Identify the management, technology and practice changes of most interest for scenario/what-if analyses within the FARM Environmental Stewardship Program. Researchers will conduct the environmental and economic analysis to enable users to run the scenarios.
Software development and piloting
Once the scientific modeling and research are near complete, work can begin on updating FARM’s software system to accommodate the Version 3 updates. FARM’s IT provider, Vyla, will work closely with the RuFaS development team. Stakeholder inputs will be used to inform desired user interface functions. A beta test/pilot will provide on-the-ground feedback from farmers and evaluators on the near-final software platform.
Working Group Meetings
The FARM Environmental Stewardship Program Version 3 Working Group is composed of farmers, evaluators and co-op/processor staff to provide key stakeholder feedback and a sounding board for the research team. The Working Group will have regular meetings starting in Q2 of 2022, anticipated to occur on a bimonthly basis. The Working Group meetings will be an opportunity for these stakeholders to provide input on topics such as:
- Recruitment of farmers for additional model validation
- Management options for scenario analyses
- Data inputs to use in the basic version of the FARM Environmental Stewardship Program versus those to fill in with default values
- Desired software functionality
Working Group Members
Northwest Dairy Association
First District Association
Royal Family Farming
United Dairymen of Arizona
Tillamook County Creamery Association
Hilmar Cheese Company
Michigan Milk Producers Association
California Dairies, Inc.
Ed Oppedyk Jr
Edward Oppedyk Dairy, LLP
Weber Family Dairy
Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers
Wide stakeholder engagement and awareness are key to the successful development of FARM Environmental Stewardship Program Version 3. In addition to the materials linked below, the FARM Program has delivered presentations about Version 3 to the following groups: the NMPF Board of Directors, the NMPF Environmental Issues Committee, the Innovation Center Environmental Stewardship Committee, the Innovation Center Stewardship Commitment Committee, the FARM Farmer Advisory Council and the FARM Environmental Stewardship Task Force.