Gold Standard Dairy Program
DFA’s Gold Standard Dairy Program, one of the first in the industry, is an on-farm best practices evaluation program that assesses operations on the areas of animal care and wellness, environmental stewardship, employee training and milk safety and quality. The program assesses, analyzes and provides feedback regarding on-farm practices, encourages continuous improvement and recognizes achievements.
The Gold Standard Dairy Program incorporates National Milk Producers Federation’s National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management Program (FARM) as its animal care module. The FARM program, which DFA fully supports, sets industry-wide guidelines for animal care and wellness best practices.
DFA’s Gold Standard Dairy Program and the FARM program are efforts to measure ethical obligations associated with dairy production. Guiding principles developed to establish the framework for these programs include:
- Nutrition: Animals should have access to a nutritionally adequate diet and clean, fresh water.
- Animal health: The health of all animals should be maintained through preventive care programs augmented by rapid diagnosis and treatment when necessary.
- Management: To promote animal care and wellness, animal caretakers should be adequately trained, follow protocols and have access to record systems to meet the requirements of their position.
- Housing and facilities: Facilities should be designed, constructed and maintained to provide and promote animal health, comfort and safety.
- Handling, movement and transportation: All animals should be handled, moved and transported in a manner that reduces the risk of injury, discomfort or disease.
As part of the DFA Gold Standard Dairy program, there is strong emphasis on follow‐up and continuous improvement actions that can be taken post‐evaluation. During the evaluation process, certain producer responses, as entered by the field representative, will electronically solicit prepared materials to be sent to the producer. Examples of such resources include templates for policies and operating procedures and animal care agreements.
On-farm evaluations are conducted by DFA’s team of field representatives, which undergoes extensive Gold Standard training. Training for these individuals consists of hours of classroom training and practical experience gained from further on‐farm training throughout the year.
As part of the FARM program, all evaluated farms are subject to third‐party verification. Third‐party verification acts as an extra provision in order to maintain the integrity of the program. DFA is committed to 100 percent participation in this program by the end of 2015.
Since its inception in 2007, the Gold Standard Dairy Program has gone through three iterations, incorporating updated standards, areas of consumer concern and the latest technology.