MONTPELIER, Vt. - The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets is pleased to announce that three Vermont dairy farms have achieved full certification in a national program aimed at ensuring food safety and responsible medication use.
In June 2017, the Agency launched a funding initiative to help offset the cost of dairy farm certification in the Food Armor® HACCP for Proper Drug Use program. To become Food Armor® certified, Gervais Family Farm, Inc., Duhamel Farms, and Dalestead Farm and Maple, LLC., partnered with local Food Armor® Accredited veterinarians to develop Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans that meet the stringent requirements of the program. By becoming certified, these Vermont farms have gone above and beyond to show their commitment to responsible on-farm use of veterinary medications, food safety and livestock well-being.
“A lot of what we do in this program, the farms are already doing, and this is a way for vets to work with farms to develop continuity as well as having a third-party audit,” said Dr. Jennifer Hull, a Food Armor® Accredited veterinarian from Northwest Veterinary Associates, Inc.
Maintenance of certification requires each farm to adhere to a written Veterinarian-Client-Patient-Relationship (VCPR) agreement, to annually submit customized drug lists, standard operating procedures, protocols and related records to the Food Armor® Foundation for approval, and to undergo a third-party audit to verify that written documents translate to best practices in livestock management. Adhering to this gold standard helps ensure that market dairy cows and bob calves shipped to slaughter do not have violative drug residues.
“Food Armor® certification represents the culmination of a steadfast commitment to excellence made by the farms’ animal care and management teams in partnership with their herd veterinarians. The Vermont dairy industry has always taken the issue of judicious use of veterinary medications seriously, and the ability to provide these Food Armor® program tools to Vermont dairy farmers for the betterment of their on-farm practices in support of this goal is a rewarding privilege”, states Dr. Kristin Haas, Vermont State Veterinarian.
VAAFM has used a two-year federal grant to provide Food Armor® training opportunities for Vermont veterinarians, maintain a State Food Armor® program license and offset the professional and program costs associated with certification. Since 2015, more than 50 food animal veterinarians have received Food Armor® training, approximately 70 Vermont farmers have participated in Food Armor orientation sessions, and farms interested in certification participated in day-long workshops.
There is sustained interest in the Food Armor® program on the part of Vermont dairy farmers, and many Vermont producers are currently partnering with Food Armor® trained veterinarians to utilize components of the Food Armor® program in their daily production practices. To learn more about the Food Armor® HACCP for Proper Drug Use program, visit www.foodarmor.org. If you are a farmer who is interested in implementing the Food Armor® program on your farm, please contact your herd veterinarian or the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets’ Animal Health Office at (802)828-2421 or AGR.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kristin M. Haas, DVM
State Veterinarian; Director of Food Safety & Consumer Protection
Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets