Dairy Accountable: DFC's proAction® Initiative

Dairy Cows on a farm

This week we have decided to highlight some of the great initiatives by Dairy Farmers of Canada towards continuously improving the dairy industry. The industry has come a long way from hauling metal milk jugs from the farm to the dairy on the back of a truck!  Over the years the industry has seen great improvements as dairy farming and processing has evolved.

The North American dairy industry is one of the most proactive and scientifically refined industries in the world resulting in a highly nutritious, vast array of dairy products on tables across the nations. The industry itself has invested billions of dollars annually to provide transparency, scientific data and accountability to millions of consumers. Today, we will explore one such initiative which has delivered impressive achievements. Let’s start at the beginning.

What is proAction®? 2015

proAction® is an initiative from Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC).  The idea of proAction is to demonstrate that Canadian farmers meet clearly defined, world leading standards for responsible production of milk and meat.  It is a system where dairy farmers can demonstrate their commitment to continuous improvement.

The Six Modules:

The Dairy Farmers of Canada have devised an accountability system spanning the on-farm production of milk organized into modules. They include:

  • Milk Quality- Farmers adhere to strict regulated milk quality criteria, and milk is tested for antibiotics to ensure there is no residue
  • Food Safety -  Farmers prevent, monitor and reduce food safety risks on farms, based on the principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points and Canadian Food Inspection Agency recognized requirements.
  • Animal Care- Farmers care for cattle by following the requirements in the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of DairyCattle. Verification of these practices includes an assessment of animal-based measures.
  • Traceability- All farms have unique premises identification numbers, cattle are tagged and their movements are traceable. This ensures the industry is prepared to respond to emergencies should they occur.
  • Biosecurity- To improve herd health, farmers manage risks and focus on keeping disease away, preventing the introduction of disease into, and its spread within, a herd.
  • Environment- Dairy farmers will demonstrate that they employ environmentally-beneficial practices on their farms to protect land, water and air quality for their families, surrounding communities and future generations. The Environment module has been finalized and is being launched in validations in September.

Why did DFC decide on proAction?

The Canadian dairy farmers are leaders, committed to high quality standards. They believe leadership and transparency will strengthen Canadian dairy brands, and maintain the trust of our customers.

Through proAction, dairy farmers are:

  • Implementing a single, national, credible, practical on-farm initiative.
  • Addressing societal demands on dairy farming.
  • Supporting the marketing, and branding of Canadian milk.

Along with doctors and nurses, farmers are among the most trusted professionals in Canada.

So, how are they doing?

  • As of August 2021, 99.9% of Canadian dairy farms are registered with the proAction program demonstrating their conformance with the food safety, animal care, traceability, and biosecurity.
  • There are 51 trained professionals performing independent validation on all farms over a 2 year period.
  • There are 31 professional cattle assessors that conduct assessments on farms across Canada.
  • Cattles assessments on farms evaluate each herd for key indications of animal care and comfort.
  • As part of the biosecurity module, dairy farms have SOP’s for vaccination and infectious disease prevention and farms have biosecurity signs posted.
  • DFC commissioned a biodiversity study in the Canadian dairy sector in collaboration with Ducks Unlimited Canada.
  • Since 2017, 100% of farms have a premise ID and all animals born since 2018 are identified with unique tags to track life and movement.

For more information on proAction, check out their website!

proAction - on-farm excellence (dairyfarmers.ca)