(RESTON, Va., October 11, 2019) – A partnership between Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative, Nestlé USA and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay has received a $200,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Federation. The grant will help fund the Dairy Farmer Led Sustainability Project and its environmental conservation cost-share program for six dairy farmer members of Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative who farm within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
Each of the farms will participate in a review of their individual Conservation Plans, Nutrient Management Plans and other Resource Management Plans. Together Maryland & Virginia, Nestlé USA and the Alliance will identify and fund conservation projects that will improve the environmental footprint of each farm and support the resource management of the individual dairy operations.
The participating farms will also complete the FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) Environmental Stewardship on-farm assessment. The resulting data from the assessment will help the farm establish goals to reduce their GHG emissions on farms. Maryland & Virginia, Nestlé USA and the Alliance will help identify partners and funding to assist farms that will invest in further on-farm improvements.
“Through our Dairy Farmer Led Sustainability Project, we are taking a leadership role in advancing on-farm dairy sustainability,” said Lindsay Reames, Director of Sustainability and External Relations for Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative.
“We are excited to be working across the supply chain, with the support of one of our key customers and a valued industry partner, to develop and implement a program that brings value back to both the farm and to the end consumer. This project will document our farmers’ environmental stewardship and animal care journey with the goal of advancing a positive culture of sustainability on all dairy farms.”
Nestlé USA, which is part of the world’s largest food and beverage company, sources its milk and dairy ingredients from Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative. The company is also contributing to the financial support of the Dairy Farmer Led Sustainability Project, and it is eager to start working with these farms and funding conservation projects.
According to Jack Scott, Vice President of Sustainability for Nestlé in the USA, “We are pleased to support and contribute to the work being done by the dairy farmer members of Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers as they continue to advance the areas of animal care, environmental stewardship, and workforce development. In today’s market where people are becoming more conscious of their food and the environment from which it comes, it is encouraging to see these farmers take this leadership role in continuous improvement. We look forward to seeing positive momentum and are happy to support such initiatives in our supply chains.”
In addition to environmental conservation projects, the Dairy Farmer Led Sustainability Project will support and incentivize on-farm improvements and progress in the areas of animal care and workforce development. The participating farms will be early adopters of the new metrics and animal care standards established in FARM 4.0. They will also help develop continuing education materials and trainings for fellow farmers and their employees that explain the need and relevance for continuing education.
To date, the Dairy Farmer Led Sustainability Project has received funding and support from Nestlé USA, the National Fish and Wildlife Federation, and the Commonwealth of Virginia.