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J Dairy Sci. 2019 Dec;102(12):11317-11327. doi: 10.3168/jds.2019-16859. Epub 2019 Sep 25.

Dairy producer perceptions of the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Animal Care Program.

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Department of Animal Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins 80523.
Western Data Analytics, Lakewood, CO 80228.
Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Colorado State University, Fort Collins 80523.
USDA Agricultural Research Service Rangeland Resources and Systems Research Unit, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
Department of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota, St. Paul 55108.
Department of Animal Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins 80523. Electronic address:


Dairy farms producing 98% of the US milk supply participate in the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Animal Care Program. Producers who sell milk to cooperatives or processors participating in FARM must follow program standards. The objectives of this study were to assess producer perceptions about the knowledge, experience, and value of FARM and to determine whether perceptions differ based on demographics. A concurrent triangulation design was implemented through collecting quantitative and qualitative data using a 30-question survey instrument. Quantitative questions aimed to address project objectives, and qualitative data were provided through 1 open-ended survey question that asked participants what they thought the main goal of the FARM program was. Participants offered additional feedback through providing text in comment boxes, writing on the back of the survey, or writing a separate letter and returning it with their survey. Quantitative data were analyzed using principal components analysis and modeling, and qualitative data were analyzed through thematic analysis. Dairy producers from cooperatives or processors that participate in the FARM program were recruited via electronic and postal mail. A total of 487 respondents from 40 states completed the survey. Of the survey participants, 414 (85.0%) answered the open-ended question and 190 (39.0%) provided additional qualitative feedback. Thematic analysis revealed 5 main themes: distrust of program, producers on the defense, anger, efficiency, and nostalgia. Of respondents, 73.6% reported being knowledgeable about the FARM Animal Care Program. Greater level of formal education and larger herd size were associated with greater producer knowledge. More dairy producer input in the revisions of FARM was identified as a need by 83.3% of respondents. Although 89.3% of respondents reported positive experiences with evaluations and relationships with evaluators, 45.6% did not think that the program had value overall. Respondent age was positively associated with perceived value of FARM. Respondent age was also significant in determining the reasons why FARM was considered to be important. Results indicate that to increase buy-in and positive perceptions from producers, future versions of FARM should solicit producer input during the development of program standards, target specific producer demographics for program promotion, and address perceived communication deficits and program inequalities. Findings from this study can be used to inform future versions of the program.


Farmers Assuring Responsible Management; animal care; dairy producer; survey


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