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New FARM Animal Care Guide Will Help Dairies Prepare

SDSU Extension and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension have partnered to create a resource binder for dairy producers to prepare for the National Dairy FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) Animal Care Program Version 4. Created by the National Milk Producers Federation in partnership with Dairy Management Inc., the National Dairy FARM Program works with all U.S. dairy farmers, co-ops and processors to demonstrate to dairy customers and consumers that the dairy industry is taking the very best care of cows and the environment, producing safe, wholesome milk and adhering to the highest standards of workforce development.

The purpose of the FARM Animal Care resource guide is to help dairy farms of all sizes prepare for the FARM Animal Care evaluation.

"We knew there was a need for this resource binder. Dairy producers have reached out to us asking how they can prepare for the FARM Animal Care Program evaluation," says Kim Clark, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Dairy Educator. "We wanted to help producers better prepare for and feel confident with the evaluation."

The resource guide includes resources, tools and standard operating procedures, which can be used to meet each animal care standard set by the National Dairy FARM Program. The binder is divided into sections by topic. Each topic includes a summary sheet to meet that specific standard. A standard operating procedure template also accompanies each topic with the intent that it can be completed with each dairy farm's step-by-step processes to meet that standard, or the dairy can develop their own document to meet each standard.

Clark says completing the information in the resource binder does not guarantee each standard is met; it's only the first step. The FARM Animal Care Evaluator will determine if each standard is met by reviewing documentation and making observations. However, the dairy will be prepared with all the necessary documentation for each standard when the binder is complete.

"Dairy farms of all sizes will benefit from this resource binder," says Heidi Carroll, SDSU Extension Livestock Stewardship Field Specialist and South Dakota Beef Quality Assurance Coordinator. "We want to meet the needs of dairy producers and provide them with the resources to make continuous improvement. This binder is a comprehensive package that processors and field representatives can offer to dairy farms, and it improves communication and clarity about the animal care standards."

Resource binders can be purchased for $45 plus shipping. Binders can be purchased at the SDSU Bookstore and will be shipped within one to two weeks of ordering. Producers are encouraged to purchase binders now, as FARM Animal Care Evaluators are beginning to return to farms to conduct evaluations and follow-up on any prior evaluation's corrective actions. Before placing an order for your dairy, farms are encouraged to reach out to their cooperative or FARM evaluator to ensure a copy has not already been purchased for them.

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