Changing Our Approach to FARM

Maryland & Virginia’s field representatives have helped members troubleshoot and improve their farm operations since 1920. We have seen significant changes in how farmers farm, but the one constant is the high level of care and comfort our farmers provide for their cows.

Going into 2020 we are changing our approach to bring more value to you and your operation. You will now see two Maryland & Virginia faces on your farm – your field representative and your sustainability specialist. They are both there to help you be successful, and that goes beyond milk quality to include animal care, environmental stewardship and workforce development.

As consumers have become more concerned with and interested in animal care, we have had to be more transparent with our animal care practices. Consumers want reassurance that the food and dairy products they purchase have come from well cared for cows. Maryland & Virginia’s customers are demanding proof and a program that will uphold dairy farmers practices.

That’s a key reason why we have the National FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) Program as our animal care program. It is a science-based program that documents how our members care for their animals and it tracks their progress in specific areas of animal care.

We know that the program works. Emily Yeiser Stepp, Senior Director Farm Animal Care, shared at the National Milk Producer Federation Annual Meeting that among FARM participants:

  • 78% of herds have valid veterinarian-client Patient relationships;
  • 90% of herds conduct annual employee training;
  • 99% of herds are no longer tail docking; and
  • 80% of herds have protocols developed for calves, non-ambulatory cows and euthanasia practices.

The National Dairy FARM Program is moving to version 4.0 in January 2020. This fourth evolution of FARM brings greater focus on documentation and employee continuing education, plus more stringent core requirements for pre-weaned calves, non-ambulatory animals, euthanasia, feed and water access.

We know that FARM version 4.0 is going to be another step up for our members, and we want you to be successful. Know that your sustainability specialists and your field representatives are here to help you assess your animal care programs, identify areas in need of improvement, seek critical resources and set goals for improvement.

Join us on Wednesday December 18 at noon EST for a webinar about FARM 4.0 to learn more about this latest version and what it means for you and your operation. Members can participate via phone, tablet or computer. Please pre-register.

The FARM program is the foundation of our animal care program. And it is one that we have promised to uphold for our customers and consumers. We want all our members to succeed at FARM 4.0, and we’re here to help you navigate that transition.

Written by: Lindsay Reames, Director of Sustainability and External Affairs