September 7, 2017
Sargento Foods is committed to the ethical treatment of cattle that are raised for milk production and will not tolerate willful mistreatment of animals, such as acts that maliciously cause pain, injury, or suffering, needlessly applying any type of prod to the sensitive parts of animals, malicious hitting or beating of an animal, prolonged lack of access to feed and water, and inappropriate on-farm harvest or euthanasia.
Sargento Foods is committed to engaging with its cheese suppliers and other business partners who share similar core values, code of business and personal ethics, and recognition of the Five Freedoms. We require that our cheese suppliers partner with farms that comply with all applicable laws and regulations regarding the treatment of animals and be compliant with the National Dairy FARM Program (“Program”). The Program is a voluntary program established by the National Milk Producers Federation, with support from Dairy Management Inc., that stands for Farmers Assuring Responsible Management. It demonstrates that the United States milk producers are committed to providing the highest standards of animal care and quality assurance. It provides a consistent on-farm animal care program including education, evaluations, and third-party verification.
Consistent with the Program requirements, we require that;
- The farms provide appropriate training to their caregivers minimum once a year. Caregivers must be trained to recognize situations where prompt decisions and actions are necessary to protect an animal from further harm, when to separate the animal from the herd, and when euthanasia is the best option for the animal. The farm must have a Herd Health Plan
- The cheese suppliers partner with farms that have established and maintain a cow care agreement with all caregivers that assures proper animal care and no willful mistreatment
- We reserve the right to review a farm’s Animal Care Second Party Verifications and Third-Party Audits and hire a third party to verify a farm’s compliance with the Program
Additionally, we support the following policies:
- Disbudding: we recognize that medical procedures may be necessary to ensure the safety of animals and their caregivers. Therefore, we allow disbudding when completed before 8 weeks of age with the proper use and administration of analgesics and/or anesthetics. The necessity of disbudding must be agreed upon by the caregiver and the herd veterinarian.
- Dehorning: we oppose dehorning of animals, and support the continued research of selective breeding with polled genetics for creating animals without horns.
- Tail-docking: we oppose tail-docking of animals and require that the practice be phased out by January 1, 2017, in alignment with the Program.
As of December 31, 2016, we started requiring documentation that 100% of our milk supply is provided by the farms following the Program. We will continue to evaluate all cheese suppliers on an annual basis. In the event of an alleged or confirmed violation of the Program, we may ask the milk to be suspended from the cheese supply.