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Maine Cattle Health Assurance Program, Maine Department of Agriculture-Division of Animal Health and Industry

Investigators
Hoenig, Donald
Institutions
Maine Department of Agriculture
Start date
2010
End date
2011
Objective
The Maine Cattle Health Assurance Program is designed to help Maine Livestock producers address the major challenges facing the food production industry today, including issues in animal health, food safety and public health, and environmental stewardship.

This program provides dairy producers with a mechanism to address key animal health risk areas important to their farm, through an objective assessment of on-farm conditions and practices, with support for herd risk management plan development and diagnostic testing.

As the financial resources available to the MeCHAP program have dwindled with the economic constraints on USDA/APHIS, Me. Dept Agriculture, Cooperative Extension and other spending, it is apparent that MeCHAP's inability to continue providing this crucial assistance to dairy farms is occurring at a time when the need is greatest. When dairy farms a caught in an economic squeeze due to factors beyond their control, producers are forced to prioritize allocation of resources. Risk management focus narrows to address only the most basic and critical needs of animals, and longer term issues are given a lower priority. However, this situation may lead to neglect of ongoing but longer term animal health and welfare issues.

Preventative medicine and herd health programs involving regular herd screening for infectious diseases, effective milk quality and mastitis control programs, and timely upgrading of livestock housing and handling facilities to facilitate implementation of these programs are essential to the ongoing success of a dairy operation. When the market price that dairy farmers receive for their product falls below the cost of production the ability of the farmer to obtain adequate veterinary support, quality feedstuffs, routine hoof care and even minimal equipment maintenance is curtailed.

If additional resources become available to dairy farmers of Maine, they can add support to the industry through a period of severe downturn in milk prices and economic recession. That financial assistance can equitably be distributed to the dairy farmers of the State of Maine through a program administered by MeCHAP, utilizing an already proven procedure of risk assessment to determine where these resources ought to be best utilized to ensure the health of the animals and the health of the farm as a sustainable business.

The project objective is to provide financial awards to dairy producers to enable them to address the on-farm issues most impacting animal health and thus farm profitability. Awards will be made on a one-time basis to all dairy producers making application, the amount of the award relevant to the volume of milk produced by the farm.

Application forms will provide suggested uses for this funding in a check list format, with the option for the producer to propose uses not included in the list provided reasoning and justification are presented. Producers will be asked to maintain documentation of the implementation of proposed expenditures.

More information
NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: The MeCHAP program was developed as a means to facilitate dairy producer access to a wide range of programs with potential to affect dairy profitability and animal health. MeCHAP was formed through cooperative efforts of the Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension, practicing veterinarians and significant financial support by the Maine Dairy Industry Association. Maine dairy producers have participated in MeCHAP annual farm visits, utilizing the expertise of their herd veterinarians, often a State veterinarian, and on occasion also an Extension educator to determine how best to apply their limited resources and remain a successful operation. This program allows added contact time with the herd veterinarians, as well as opportunity to benefit from the perspectives provided by the expertise of impartial advisors. The cooperators within the MeCHAP program make significant contributions to the success in reaching farmers and providing needed assistance. Members include a dairy producer, Agrimark Dairy Processor field person, Maine Dairy Industry Association Executive director, practicing food animal veterinarian, State veterinarians, State of Maine Livestock Specialist, University of Maine Diagnostic Laboratory Director, Dairy specialists of Cooperative Extension, and Animal Science educators at UMaine. As the financial resources available to the MeCHAP program have dwindled with the economic constraints on USDA/APHIS, Me. Dept Agriculture, Cooperative Extension and other spending, it is apparent that MeCHAP's inability to continue providing this crucial assistance to dairy farms is occurring at a time when the need is greatest. When dairy farms a caught in an economic squeeze due to factors beyond their control, producers are forced to prioritize allocation of resources, addressing only the most basic and critical needs of animals, and longer term issues are given a lower priority. However, this situation may lead a neglect of ongoing but longer term animal health and welfare issues. Preventive medicine and herd health programs involving regular herd screening for infectious diseases, effective milk quality and mastitis control programs, and timely upgrading of livestock housing and handling facilities to facilitate implementation of these programs is essential to the ongoing success of a dairy operation. At this critical point in the economic history of dairy farming in Maine, many farms are facing periods of low income that threaten the ability of the farms to continue in operation, not only due to operational costs but also the inability of retirement age producers to find successors or buyers for their businesses. Assistance with farm financial analyses and planning for succession is made available to dairy producers through MeCHAP education and workshops.

APPROACH: The goals of the MeCHAP program are: 1) Education: workshops, continuing education for producers and veterinarians; 2) On-farm risk assessments and veterinary visits to help identify factors that may be affecting production and profitability of the farm; 3) Disease screening, pathogen detection and disease control programs. NIFA/USDA 2010 Grant funding will be utilized to implement the goals of MeCHAP on Maine dairy farms. Financial assistance targeted at the Maine dairy industry can equitably be distributed to the dairy farmers of the state through a program administered by the MeCHAP program, utilizing an already established and proven procedures. Dairy producers utilize their herd veterinarians, Extension specialists, and MeCHAP Risk Assessments determine where these resources ought to be best utilized to ensure the health of the animals and the health of the farm as a business. Financial awards will be made to dairy producers through an application process that details to what purposes and uses the funding will be spent. Dairy farm registers with the Dept of Ag as a vendor. Dairy producer completes Application page, indicating the greatest need for individual farm. This page may be in the form of "check off" list,including the following: Feed purchases, Veterinary expenses, Mastitis screening and bacteriologic cultures,Milking system valuation, maintenance and upgrades, Disease prevention and testing for disease control programs, Purchase of portable equipment that will directly effect the energy efficiency of the farm, Purchase of portable housing and cattle handling equipment that will affect the health of the dairy animals and their replacements and Farm financial analysis and succession of ownership. Records (milk weigh slips) or copies for the preceding quarter (3 months) of the year are submitted and verified by Maine Milk Commission Application and records are reviewed by three persons within the Department of Agriculture, Division of Animal Health and Industry. . Funding is awarded to Dairy producers based on the formula: $1000 per farm base payment plus amount to be calculated based on monthly average over the past three month period. A procedure is established to verify that producer has utilized the award funding for the purposes stated on the Application (b) Applications for MeCHAP funding awards will be accepted for six months (180 days)after appplication forms are provided to dairy producers. All producers will be strongly encouraged to make application within that deadline. After that deadline, the MeCHAP Coordinator and Steering Committee will approve expenditure of remaining funds directed towards implementing the goals of the MeCHAP program as described in this proposal, specifically on-going milk quality and mastitis control programs, disease screening and control programs, and farm economic analysis and succession of ownership. It is the intent of this project that 75%-100% of funding will be awarded to producers in the first year (2010). Any remaining grant money will be used to fund MeCHAP activities to advance the goals of dairy profitability and health and will be completed within the second year (2011)

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
MEW-2010-01516
Accession number
221422
Categories
Risk Assessment, Management, and Communication
Education and Training
Chemical Contaminants
Bacterial Pathogens