Location: Rangeland Resources & Systems ResearchTitle: Dairy producer perceptions of the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) animal care program
|RINK, K - Colorad0 State University|
|TURK, P - Western Data Analytic|
|ARCHIBEQUE-ENGLE, S - Colorado State University|
|AHOLA, J - Colorado State University|
|HADRICH, J - University Of Minnesota|
|ROMAN-MUNIZ, I - Colorado State University|
Submitted to: Journal of Dairy Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/14/2019
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Dairy farms producing 98% of the U.S. milk supply follow guidelines outlined in the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Animal Care Program. Producers who sell milk to cooperatives or processors participating in FARM must follow standards defined by the program. This study assessed dairy producer perceptions of the program through a survey instrument. A majority of participants were knowledgeable about the FARM program, perceived the value of the program unfavorably, and desired more input when revising the program. Results from this study can be used to continually improve the program and inform future versions.
Technical Abstract: Dairy farms producing 98% of the U.S. milk supply follow guidelines outlined in the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Animal Care Program. Producers who sell milk to cooperatives or processors participating in FARM must follow standards defined by the program. Objectives of this study were to assess producers’ perceptions about knowledge, experience, value, reasons for considering FARM important, and to determine if perceptions differ based on demographics. A concurrent triangulation design was implemented through collecting quantitative and qualitative data from a 30-question survey instrument. Quantitative questions aimed to address project objectives, and qualitative data were provided through one open-ended survey question that asked participants what they thought the main goal of the FARM program was. Additional feedback was offered by participants 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 who 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, n = 414 (85.0%) answered the open-ended question, and n = 190 (39.0%) provided additional qualitative feedback. Thematic analysis revealed 5 main themes: producers on the defense, distrust of program, efficiency, anger, and nostalgia. Of respondents, 73.6% reported being knowledgeable about the FARM Animal Care Program. Greater level of formal education and larger herd size was associated with greater producer knowledge. More dairy producer input in the revisions of FARM was identified as a need by 83.3% of respondents. While 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 of 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 utilized to inform future versions of the program.