The Hershey Company, Land O’Lakes Inc. and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay said they are partnering to implement on-farm best management practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Initial funding for the “Sustainable Dairy PA” initiative comes from The Hershey Co.’s $300,000 commitment to support the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and Land O’Lakes is helping install agricultural conservation practices on Land O’Lakes member dairy farms. The partnership includes 119 Land O’Lakes member-owners in Central Pennsylvania that ship 50% or more of their milk supply to Hershey, the organizations said.
The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay will use Hershey’s funds to leverage additional grant funding to implement conservation plans and innovative on-farm environmental practices. The solutions range from riparian buffer plantings that reduce stream bank erosion and improve habitat to animal waste storage systems and other sustainable farming practices to support a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution.
“Leadership from corporations, like that of Hershey and Land O’Lakes, is critical to restoring Pennsylvania’s rivers and the Chesapeake Bay, and reaching our climate goals,” said Jenna Mitchell Beckett, Pennsylvania state director and agriculture program director for the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. “With so many passionate businesses in our watershed, we hope this partnership inspires others to take action towards a more sustainable future.”
The initiative has begun working with dairy farmers in south-central Pennsylvania and is actively building a list of their conservation needs that will guide the program’s priorities, the organizations said. In addition to working with the initial 119 farms, the partnership has a goal of reaching more than 400 Land O’Lakes member farms supplying milk to Hershey as funding and support grows.
“We recognize that global impact means teaming up with other leading organizations like The Hershey Co. and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and we’re excited to support this new initiative,” said Glenda Gehl, senior director of member relations for Arden Hills, Minn.-based Land O’Lakes. “Through the Land O’Lakes Dairy 2025 Commitment, we are committed to developing measurable ways for our farmer-members to reduce their environmental footprint in a manner that supports on-farm profitability and meets the expectations of our customers and consumers.”
The initiative recognizes that dairy producers are important players in helping improve water quality and mitigating climate change and was established to provide dairy farmers with the resources needed to improve their impact on the environment. This allows farmers to produce quality farm products while contributing to the health of the bay, its tributaries and the planet. The work seeks to demonstrate that conservation and economic profit are compatible, and high-quality milk produced on farms using clean water and climate-smart practices provides a value-added premium in the marketplace and addresses the growing demands of discerning consumers, the organizations said.
“As we continue on our path to reduce our environmental footprint and address climate change, we’re excited to partner with Land O’Lakes and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay to promote best on-farm sustainable management practices in our dairy supply chain,” said Eric Boyle, director of commodities procurement at The Hershey Co., Hershey, Pa. “Not only will this initiative help Hershey to reduce our GHG footprint and improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and other watersheds in the region, it will also help to improve soil health and protect biodiversity, and strengthen our connection to our dairy producers who are so integral to the creation of Hershey’s milk chocolate.”