Recognizes innovative public-private effort to reduce dairy pollution
As the nation anticipates the celebration of National Ice Cream Day this Sunday, July 19, one of the country’s top ice cream manufacturers, Turkey Hill, is being recognized with a prestigious national award for its innovative partnership that provides dairy farmers that supply its milk with resources and support that help them limit or eliminate farm nutrient runoff to area rivers, streams and watersheds.
Launched in 2018, the Turkey Hill Clean Water Partnership supports over 160 MDVA member producers who provide milk to Turkey Hill with financial support and incentives, and works directly with those producers to plan and implement conservation practices that help improve the health of area rivers and streams, including the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
To enable this effort, the Partnership has secured more than $2 million in funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. It has also helped farmers utilize more than $2 million in support from PENNVEST, which provides low-interest loans and grants for non-point source pollution prevention best management practices.
The grant funding pays 100 percent of the cost for farms to develop conservation plans that can cost $1,500 or more and provides up to 75 percent cost-share assistance for conservation practice implementation. After all prescribed practices are implemented, farms receive a premium for their milk. This assistance is especially important for dairy farmers during the financially challenging times they are currently experiencing. Each farm has its own approach to sustainability, and the partnership has been able to assist in each reaching their own sustainability goals.
At this time, 96 percent of participating farms have, or are in the process of receiving or enacting, an updated conservation plan developed by the Partnership. In the past 12 months, more than 40 projects funded by the THCWP have contributed greatly to Lancaster County’s and Pennsylvania’s sediment and nutrient load reductions. To date, the Partnership has achieved pollutant load reductions totaling:
421,327.5 lbs/year of nitrogen
7,198.3 lbs/year of phosphorus
2,920.9 tons/year of sediment
Kate Fritz, executive director of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, said, “This award represents the opportunities that can be found at the intersection of conservation and agriculture, and helps to validate the Partnership’s demonstration that dairy farmers can be supported in improving both the environmental and economic sustainability of their farm simultaneously.”
The Partnership does much more than set sustainability goals for the dairies supplying milk to Turkey Hill, as it has built a program that works alongside each producer to improve each farm’s operations. The Partnership’s goals are also a natural extension of Turkey Hill’s focus on sustainability and using 100 percent renewable energy at its Conestoga facility to make ice cream and other products.
The company hopes that the Partnership will also provide a model and example for other companies and organizations to follow. “It’s important for the dairy industry to assist farmers in developing best practices for nutrient and soil management, thereby reducing excess runoff and improving farm performance,” said Tim Hopkins, Turkey Hill Dairy Chief Executive Officer. “This type of leadership within the private sector can accelerate conservation action so that more businesses will be motivated to take a similar approach.”
More information about the Turkey Hill Clean Water Partnership can be found at www.allianceforthebay.org/THCWP. For more information about Turkey Hill Dairy’s green initiatives that includes its role with the Partnership, visit www.TurkeyHill.com/about/green.
The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay (Alliance) is a regional nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring together communities, companies, and conservationists to improve our lands and waters. The Alliance implements local programs that connect people to their local rivers and streams and become directly involved in local restoration efforts. The Alliance was founded in 1971 and has offices in Annapolis, MD, Lancaster, PA, Washington, D.C., and Richmond, VA. For more information about the Alliance, visit www.allianceforthebay.org.
Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative is a community of dairy farm families passionate about cultivating dairy goodness and bottling fresh Maola brand milk and dairy products. Founded in 1920, the cooperative’s farmers produce three billion pounds of milk a year for consumers and manufacturers worldwide. Our dairy farm families take pride in creating dairy products people crave, operating with passion and integrity, responsibly caring for our resources and providing a rewarding livelihood for our farmers and employees. For more information about Maryland & Virginia, visit: www.mdvamilk.com