Wednesday, March 23, 2022

EPA National, Regional Officials Tour PA Dairy Farms To Highlight Clean Water, Climate, Farm Benefits Of Corporate Partnerships

On March 23, officials from the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and representatives
from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay were in the field meeting with dairy farmers in Pennsylvania and key corporate partners to discuss collaborative efforts that support local dairy farmers by promoting healthy farms, clean water, and other environmental benefits.

EPA National Agriculture Advisor Rod Snyder and EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz are marking National Agriculture Week with today’s tours of dairy farms and corporate facilities to highlight successful partnerships for producing food in ways that benefit the farm and the environment, including local waters and the Chesapeake Bay.

“It’s important for EPA to be in the field to see firsthand how these partnerships provide the resources farmers need to continue their environmental conservation work,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ortiz. “Working together with our corporate and nonprofit partners, we can continue to build on this innovative approach.”

Joining EPA for the day's events in Lancaster and Dauphin counties were:

-- Jake Reilly, Director, Chesapeake Bay Programs, National Fish and

Wildlife Foundation

-- Jenna Mitchell Beckett, Pennsylvania Director and Agriculture Program

Director, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

-- Kate Fritz, CEO, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

-- Derek Frey, Director of Supply Chain Management, Turkey Hill Dairy

-- Janae Klingler, Sustainability Manager, Maryland & Virginia Milk

Producers Cooperative Association (MDVA)

-- Katie Morrison, Responsible Sourcing Manager, The Hershey Company

-- Matt Silveria, Environmental Sustainability Manager, The Hershey


-- Eric Boyle, Dairy Procurement Director, The Hershey Company

-- Name, Title, The Hershey Company

-- Aaron Harris, Sustainability and Animal Care Specialist, Land O’Lakes

-- Justin Potts, Dairy Business Advisors Senior Manager, Land O’Lakes

-- Mindy Berrey, Senior Director of Sales, Land O’Lakes

The group is touring two farms: a Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative

Association (MDVA) member farm supplying milk to Turkey Hill Dairy, as well as a

Land O’ Lakes member-owner farm supplying milk to the Hershey Company. 

These farms are being supported by Alliance projects like the Turkey Hill Clean Water Partnership, a partnership between the Alliance, Turkey Hill Dairy and MDVA, and Sustainable Dairy PA, a joint effort between the Alliance, Hershey, and Land O’Lakes, which take a collaborative approach to incentivizing dairy farmers in increasing on-farm conservation efforts.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to talk with farmers, food companies, and other partners involved to see how this winning formula works from start to finish,” said EPA National Agriculture Advisor Snyder. “The benefits of this initiative for improved water quality and reduced greenhouse gas emissions can serve as a partnership model well beyond the Chesapeake Bay watershed.”

As a key partner and funder in this work, EPA understands the need to support corporate partnerships like these. 

The Alliance has been developing agriculture supply chain partnerships since 2018, leveraging approximately $16M in public and private funding to assist over 150 farmers. 

Dairy farming is an essential component of our economy and a source of wholesome local food. Supporting farmers with funding and expertise to improve water quality and reduce the environmental impacts of dairy farms is essential. These practices also improve the long-term sustainability of the farms by increasing the health of the soil and ensuring that less soil is lost during storms.

Model Dairy Supply Chain Sustainability

Thanks to funding provided by EPA, NFWF, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Alliance has created a model that local companies are now adopting to increase sustainability in their dairy supply chain and help bring cleaner water back to their communities.

“When Turkey Hill buys over 100 million gallons of milk from local family farms, we have a responsibility to help make a difference. Working together, we can provide assistance to the farmers and help them to reach their sustainability goals. The Turkey Hill Clean Water Partnership and supporting local dairy farmers is part of the fabric of who we are as an organization.” - Kriston Ohm, VP of Marketing, Turkey Hill. 

Companies like Turkey Hill Dairy and The Hershey Company are voluntarily stepping up as sustainability and stewardship leaders by providing support to the farmers who are the foundation of their supply chain. 

These efforts are mutually beneficial and not only improve overall business performance and sustainability, but also improve local water quality, provide support to local dairy farmers, show deep care for the local community, and increase consumers’ awareness of how their purchases affect the environment.

“Our dairy farmers want to be innovative and implement sustainability practices on their farms that benefit the health and well-being of their animals, the land, and ultimately their family’s ability to farm across generations,” said Lindsay Reames, Executive Vice President of Sustainability & External Relations at MDVA. “Together with the Alliance we are pioneers for clean water partnerships and bringing real value to dairy farmers.”

Collaboration is at the forefront of this work. Many dairy farmers are leaving the industry due to low milk prices. Those that are staying in the market realize there’s a huge need to increase their operations’ sustainability. 

However, many cannot prioritize conservation without supply chain support that brings significant funding, technical support, and incentives to manage their farms for the future.

"Touring these farms in Pennsylvania today means that we're touring the start of the Chesapeake Bay - this is where the thousands of freshwater rivers and streams that are the lifeblood of the Chesapeake, begin,” said Kate Fritz, CEO, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. 

”The impact of greening the dairy supply chain in Pennsylvania means that we are supporting farmers to keep farming, we're ensuring our landscape stays in agriculture and forests, and we're producing food that treads lightly on our earth - all for cleaner rivers and streams locally.

“The Alliance believes that teamwork makes the dream work, and our partnership with corporate partners and the EPA is a shining example of how we can all go farther, together, for the Chesapeake Bay. I am confident that with our corporate partners like Hershey and others and the EPA, that there is still farther to go, together," said Fritz.

Visit EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program webpage for more information on Bay partnerships.

Visit DEP’s Chesapeake Bay Watershed webpage to learn more about cleaning up rivers and streams in Pennsylvania's portion of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

How Clean Is Your Stream?

Check DEP’s 2022 Water Quality Report to find out how cleans streams are near you.

Related Articles:

-- Pennsylvania No-Till Alliance Invites Farmers To Participate In Cover Crop Research; Upcoming Field Days In July; Farm Planting Guides 

-- PA Sustainable Agriculture, Partners Launch New Dairy Grazing Project To Improve Herds, Soil Health, Water Quality In Chesapeake Bay Watershed

-- NFWF Chesapeake Bay Program Offers Cost Share For Farms To Implement Split Applications Of Nitrogen 

-- Farm Conservation Excellence Grants Expanded To Seven Counties, $5 Million Awarded  

[Posted: March 23, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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