To offer the best milk every day, Albertan (and all Canadian) dairy farmers have excellent standards and practices. Dairy Farmers of Canada and its members initiated the development of proAction® to show how farmers responsibly produce milk, including responsible stewardship of their animals and of their environment. With proAction®, farmers offer proof to customers that they work to ensure they are producing high-quality, safe, and nutritious food for consumers.
“The Canadian dairy farmers are leaders, committed to high quality standards. We believe leadership and transparency will strengthen our Canadian dairy brands and maintain the trust of our customers.”
– Dairy Farmers of Canada
proAction® has six main components: Milk Quality, Food Safety, Animal Care, Traceability, Biosecurity and Environment.
- Milk Quality – Farmers deal with milk quality criteria every day: somatic cell count (SCC), bacteria levels, freezing point, and inhibitors. These criteria are regulated and used by the industry to assess farm milk quality. Dairy Farmers of Canada and provincial milk organizations have long monitored quality trends and have led regulatory changes over time to ensure Canadian milk quality standards remain high, relative to other countries.
- Food Safety – The food safety component of proAction®, formerly the Canadian Quality Milk (CQM) program, is designed to help prevent, monitor, and reduce food safety risk on farms. Farmers are trained under the program and almost all dairy farms are registered! Under the food safety program, farmers provide proof over time that they continue to meet program requirements. The credibility of the on-farm validators is assured through training programs based on Codex and ISO international standards.
- Animal Care – Treating animals well and providing excellent care comes naturally in the dairy industry. Farmers know that healthy cows are the most productive, require less work and are the most profitable animals on farms. Under proAction®, all farms are undergoing an animal welfare assessment program, based on the requirements in the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle. This assessment demonstrates that dairy farmers meet high standards.
- Traceability – Product traceability – from the farm through to the consumer – builds trust with customers. It is also one of the key attributes that consumers value in a product, along with nutrition, consistency, taste, and cost. Traceability is also important in maintaining the trust of trading partners, keeping markets open, and gaining access to new markets. Currently, milk is traceable from farm to plate across Canada. However, the Livestock Traceability System does not yet span the entire food chain in Canada.
- Biosecurity – Service workers, salespeople, veterinarians, and feed and delivery trucks are all regular visitors to multiple dairy farms. They present a potential biosecurity risk. The introduction of new animals is also a disease risk to the herd. In addition to maintaining the health of the herd, farm-level biosecurity management practices minimize or prevent the introduction of infectious disease agents which could have an adverse effect on the economy, and human health. Biosecurity practices need to minimize the spread of disease both within a farm operation, and off the farm.
- Environment – The Environment module encourages Canadian dairy farmers to be proactive in supporting environmental health while producing milk profitably and ensuring the sustainability of the natural resources they manage, so that consumers can confidently enjoy the dairy products they love for generations to come. Dairy farmers independently take measures to improve their efficiencies and reduce their environmental impact. In September 2021, the requirements of the Environment module of proAction® will come into effect and become mandatory.