17 September 1997
Dairy assurance scheme launched at Stoneleigh

By Boyd Champness

FARMERS throughout England and Wales are being consulted on proposals for a National Dairy Farm Assurance Scheme, designed to bring consumers and farmers closer together.

The proposed scheme aims to improve the national dairy herd by setting out standards for areas such as the health of dairy cows, nutrition, stock management and record-keeping.

On the consumer front, its hoped that the scheme will reassure consumers about animal welfare and the high quality and safety of milk on UK dairy farms.

The scheme, a National Farmers Union and Milk Development Council initiative, will be launched tomorrow at the European Dairy Farming Event being held at Stoneleigh, Warrackshire.

A sub-group made up of representatives from the NFU, UK Federation of Milk Producer Organisations (UKFMPO), Dairy Industry Federation (DIF), and British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA) have been considering the proposals in more detail.

NFU president Sir David Naish said the driving force behind the scheme was to allay consumer fears about the dairy industry, while at the same time making the scheme achievable for farmers. The NFU will be consulting its members on the proposals over the next few weeks.

Under the scheme:

  • Dairy farmers will be expected to adopt the standards agreed upon by the industry and put in place the necessary recording systems. These records will include monitoring herd health;

  • Veterinary surgeons will be obliged to monitor herd health in conjunction with the farmer. Ideally the farmers own vet will be able to fulfil this role during routine visits to the farm;

  • Milk buyers will be responsible for operation of the scheme within their own company. They will need to appoint trained and certified staff to make sure farms comply with standards (and to identify those that dont) and to maintain records;

  • Assessment personnel will be employed to carry out on-farm inspections;

  • Colleges will be selected to run training courses for these farm inspectors;

  • An industry representative body will be set up to police the scheme. Its likely to include organisations such as those mentioned above, as well as a retail or consumer organisations.