National Dairy FARM Program to Release Animal Care Version 5

Dr. Maurice L. Eastridge, Professor and Extension Dairy Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

The Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) program was launched in 2009. It was developed by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) in partnership with Dairy Management, Inc. The program helps ensure the success of the entire dairy industry by demonstrating U.S. dairy farmers are committed to producing high quality, safe milk with integrity. The National Dairy FARM Program is open to all U.S. dairy farmers, milk processors and cooperatives. As science and best practices evolve, the FARM Program’s goal is to continue showing customers and consumers that we’re holding the dairy industry to the highest standards.

The FARM Program focuses on five program areas – animal care, antibiotic stewardship, biosecurity, environmental stewardship and workforce development. Each program area provides participants with resources such as science-based standards, verifications, metrics and other tools that can be leveraged to improve best management practices in each respective pillar.

The FARM Animal Care Program standards are revised every three years to reflect the most current science and best management practices within the dairy industry. Standards, rationale, and accountability measures are reviewed and revised by the FARM Animal Care Task Force and NMPF Animal Health and Well-Being Committee with input from industry stakeholder groups including farmers, animal scientists, and veterinarians. The NMPF Board of Directors provides final approval on version standards. FARM is currently facilitating the development of FARM Animal Care Version 5.

The following changes were approved by the NMPF Board of Directors in March 2023 to be implemented in FARM Animal Care Version 5:

  1. Locomotion: Establish benchmark for moderate lameness 15% with associated Continuous Improvement Plan (CIP)
  2. Disbudding: Elevate pain management standard from CIP to Mandatory Corrective Action Plan (MCAP). Acceptable methods: Caustic paste and cautery.
  3. Calves: Revision to how colostrum feeding standards are evaluated: a) Meet quantity (10% birth weight), quality (visual, colostrometer, etc.) and timeliness (within 6 hours) guidelines, or b) Evidence of successful transfer of passive immunity.
  4. Continuing Education: Elevate Family Employee standard from CIP to MCAP
  5. Euthanasia: Identification of primary and secondary individuals for euthanasia implementation and confirmation of death in protocol.
  6.  Program Implementation: Establish discovery process between FARM & co-op/processor for farms that exceed animal observation benchmarks significantly.

The Animal Care Version 5 standards will be in place from July 1, 2024 to June 30, 2027. Additional information about the program is available at: