The Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD), a Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Center of Excellence, recently used AgConnect® as a technology foundation to provide a single, integrated solution for data collection, management and analysis for the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) ProgramTM. This effort, which is directed by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) in partnership with Dairy Management Inc., provides best practices through a consistent set of guidelines and a uniform animal care program across the nation. Through ensuring excellence within the industry, the program reassures consumers that the health and well-being of animals is a top priority.
The National Dairy FARM ProgramTM expanded beyond their animal care focus to now include environmental stewardship. As a comprehensive dairy animal care evaluation program, the animal care effort consists of education, on-farm evaluation and third-party verification. This effort helps to build and maintain the trust and confidence of consumers; provides the industry with transparency, creditability, and assurance of process compliance; and provides useful feedback for continuous improvement. The environmental stewardship program, initially developed by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, allows dairy farmers to assess their farm’s environmental footprint and explore the potential financial and environmental value of feed, manure, and energy management practices. This program enables monitoring of continued improvement over time and assists the U.S. dairy industry in its greenhouse gas footprint reduction while also building business value.
The Institute used their AgConnect® technology to provide the National Dairy FARM ProgramTM with an integrated system that supports both the animal care and environmental stewardship programs.
“The new system allows dual-purpose on-farm data collection and management using a single, unified system,” said Keith Biggers, IIAD information analysis theme leader. “This has potentially significant benefits in animal care, environmental stewardship and dairy farm self-sustainment.”
In addition to providing an integrated system, IIAD also expanded the animal care effort to support data collection from new versions of evaluation forms, field custom dairy cooperative data collection forms and incorporate other minor refinements – including automatic creation and tracking of corrective action plans, automatic question answering based upon other responses, automated distribution of completed evaluations and comprehensive data analytics.
“The ability to develop technology that supports industry-driven initiatives is an important component of IIAD research,” said Melissa Berquist, IIAD associate director. “We are appreciative of the opportunity to work with our partners at NMPF to provide customized solutions for their needs. We look forward to continuing to work with the dairy industry – as well as partners across other livestock and allied industries – to develop technology that enhances, advances and optimizes their operations.”
The National Dairy FARM ProgramTM released the new integrated system last month. IIAD will continue to work with the program managers and participants to refine and update the technology to meet the program’s long-term needs.
Headquartered in College Station, Texas, IIAD was founded in 2004 as a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Center of Excellence. The Institute focuses on research, education and outreach to prevent, detect, mitigate and recover from transboundary, emerging and/or zoonotic diseases, which may be introduced intentionally or through natural processes. In 2014, IIAD was recognized by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as a Collaborating Centre in the specialty of biological threat reduction. IIAD is the only centre of this kind in OIE’s America’s region and the only OIE Collaborating Centre within the Texas A&M University System. For more information, visit iiad.tamu.edu.