The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service once again approved the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Animal Care Program’s animal welfare standards, determining that the program’s 4th version meets the requirements of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Specification. FARM was the first animal-care program in the world to have its updated standards verified through this process.
“The ISO certification for the FARM Program demonstrates its importance and validates our industry’s commitment to animal care not only domestically but also in the world market,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, which administers the FARM program.
The assessment to the ISO standard determines whether animal welfare programs meet international standards for animal care as set by an independent standards-setting organization. FARM was evaluated to ensure that the standards in Version 4.0 of its Animal Care program meet the highest quality in species-specific welfare practices.
The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and ISO work together to help farmers and programs like FARM standardize and implement their animal care guidelines. The OIE, the World Trade Organization-recognized body for setting animal health and welfare standards affecting international trade, adopted dairy cattle welfare standards in 2015.
FARM was the first livestock program in the world recognized for the technical specification in 2018. It repeated the USDA verification process to provide an additional level of assurance for the improvements made to the program in its fourth iteration. The verification by USDA signifies to FARM Program participants that its standards are among the best in the world; it also signals to consumers they can have confidence their dairy products were produced in accordance with the highest level of science-based animal care.