WASHINGTON BORO, PA – August 22, 2023 – The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and The Hershey Company (Hershey) announced today the joint commitment of $2 million to support local dairy farmers. The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay (Alliance), in collaboration with Land O’Lakes, Inc., will use funds to promote the adoption of practices that support local and regional environmental goals with dairy farmers in Land O’Lakes’ eastern region milk shed.
The Alliance, Hershey, and Land O’Lakes have been working together since 2021 on an initiative called “Sustainable Dairy PA.” The initiative takes a collaborative, industry-led, and public sector-supported approach to accelerate on-farm conservation efforts for local eastern region dairy farmers.
The $2 million in funding is part of a commitment between the EPA and Hershey. These funds, $1 million of which will be funded by the EPA and a matching $1 million of which will be committed from Hershey, will be used to support the Alliance and Land O’Lakes in implementing agricultural conservation practices on Land O’Lakes member dairy farms. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) will administer the portion of the funds provided from EPA to the Alliance.
“Dairy farmers are critical to our supply chain and our local communities,” said Leigh Horner, Chief Sustainability Officer, The Hershey Company. “We are proud to support the work of Sustainable Dairy PA and the farmers participating as they drive meaningful impact on clean water and conservation efforts to protect the Chesapeake Bay.”
As a key partner and funder in this work, EPA understands the need to support corporate initiatives like these. The Alliance has been developing agriculture supply chain programs since 2018, leveraging approximately $16M in public and private funding to assist over 150 farmers. Dairy farming is an essential component of the economy and a source of wholesome local food. Supporting farmers with funding and expertise to help them improve water quality and reduce the environmental impacts of dairy farms is essential. These practices also help improve the long-term sustainability of the farms with the goal of improving soil health and the overall efficiency of the operations.
“EPA’s funding commitment to Hershey, Land O’Lakes, and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay brings $2 million of much-needed support to Pennsylvania dairy farmers to scale up conservation practices that are good for our farms, climate, local streams, and the Bay.” said EPA Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz. “With this funding, we are not only investing in the current environment, but into the long-term viability of Pennsylvania farmers – our frontline environmentalists.”
Thanks to prior funding provided by EPA, NFWF, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), the Alliance has created a model that local companies are now adopting in an effort to increase sustainability in their dairy supply chain and help bring cleaner water back to their communities.
“American farmers continually rise to the challenge of feeding a growing global population in an increasingly sustainable and efficient manner,” said Tim Leviny, Land O’Lakes Senior Vice President of Global Dairy Ingredients & International. “Collaborative initiatives like Sustainable Dairy PA provide the necessary incentives to drive voluntary practice changes that not only help contribute to the health of the planet, but also help better position farmers for success in a challenging operating environment.”
As a cooperative, and largely enabled by their ag sustainability businesses Truterra, Land O’Lakes has taken a leadership position in on-farm sustainability by helping customers achieve their environmental goals, while keeping farmer profitability at the forefront. The collaboration at the heart of this work brings significant funding, technical support, and incentives to help farmers prioritize conservation while navigating difficult dairy market conditions.
“Hershey’s, EPA’s, and Land O’Lakes’ leadership to support our Pennsylvania dairy farmers and local ecosystems is revolutionary.” said Jenna Mitchell Beckett, Agriculture Program Director at the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. “This effort is helping to create a paradigm shift in which an entire supply chain works together to support work on the ground rather than farmers being expected to carry the load alone. We believe this model is the future of how we will overcome the environmental hurdles we face.