FARM Animal Care program announces changes

Wisconsin State Farmer
Significant changes to FARM effective Jan. 1 will address the cessation of tail-docking practices and the need to operations issued a Mandatory Corrective Action Plan to seek compliance within a 9-month period.

ARLINGTON, Va. — The National Milk Producers Federation, with support from Dairy Management Inc., has announced updates to animal care standards under the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management, or FARM, Animal Care program after a rigorous 16-month stakeholder review.

The fourth iteration of the FARM Animal Care Program’s standards supports closer farmer-veterinarian relationships, requires continuing education for all employees and adds a new standard for pain management when disbudding animals.

As with previous versions of FARM Animal Care, a robust suite of materials that include templates, FAQs, continuing education videos and other resource tools will be made available to help producers meet the outlined standards. These resources are available to producers through their cooperative or processor and can be found on the FARM Resources web page. Hard copy resources are also available upon request.

“FARM’s Animal Care Program 4.0 underscores the dairy community’s commitment to continually improving animal care and incorporating the latest animal-welfare research, demonstrating to consumers that dairy is a leader in the humane and ethical care of our animals,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “We are committed to ensuring that farms are prepared to meet the updated standards and that the supply chain – from farm to fork — has full transparency as well as high-quality dairy products.”

FARM Animal Care is updated once every three years to ensure relevance to current industry best management practices and scientific research related to on-farm animal care. Farmers nationwide, dairy veterinarians and animal-welfare experts and dairy-industry leaders are all represented in drafting and approving new standards received 370 submissions that guided final decisions made on Version 4.0.

Significant changes going into effect beginning Jan. 1 include:

  • If tail docking is found to have continued to occur, immediate action must be taken to cease the practice.
  • Standards that generate a Mandatory Corrective Action Plan — ranging from veterinarian engagement (Veterinarian-Client-Patient-Relationship and herd health plan review), calf care, non-ambulatory, euthanasia and fitness to transport management practices, and disbudding prior to 8 weeks of age — will need to be addressed within nine months of the evaluation.

For additional specifics around the standards updates, visit

National Milk Producers Federation develops and carries out policies that advance dairy producers and the cooperatives they own.