Jenna Mitchell, our PA State Director, and John Cox, President of Turkey Hill, take a tour of a farm. Picture source: Lancaster Newspaper (Blaine Shahan)

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay is excited to announce that our Turkey Hill Clean Water Partnership project is underway! The project, which sparked from ideas discussed at a Businesses for the Bay Forum in 2016, is a collaborative effort coordinated by the Alliance, in partnership with Turkey Hill, and Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association (MDVA). Also involved are the Chesapeake Conservancy and Nimblist. Through the Turkey Hill Clean Water Partnership, Turkey Hill will take momentous strides towards cleaning up local water quality in the Lancaster area. 

Currently, Turkey Hill receives its milk from about 100 farms all within a 50-mile radius of their manufacturing facility in Conestoga, Pennsylvania through the Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association (MDVA). As part of their 2018 contract with MDVA, Turkey Hill has asked that all milk producers receive a conservation plan (a record of decisions and supporting information for treatment of a unit of land) and reach environmental compliance through on-the-ground conservation practices. Once all of Turkey Hill’s MDVA milk suppliers are in compliance, Turkey Hill will pay the farmers a premium for their milk.

MDVA and the Alliance have been coordinating site visits to establish which of the 100 Turkey Hill farms have a conservation plan and which are in compliance with the plan, if they have one. So far, we know that of the 60 farms visited by MDVA staff so far, 17 need conservation plans. The Alliance will be visiting those that need conservation plans to help link them up with a local agricultural consulting firm or NRCS to write their plan.

The overall goal of the Partnership is to motivate greater environmental conservation efforts through working with the private sector, as well as create an incentive method that other businesses can easily adopt. Chesapeake Conservancy will be conducting a riparian buffer gap analysis for Lancaster County to aid in the prioritization of restoration areas, and Nimblist will be developing marketing strategies for dairy companies that adopt conservation into their mission.

Funding comes through the NRCS’s Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) Program. Through CIG, grantees develop and encourage adoption of innovative conservation practices and market-based solutions to resource challenges.

Read more about the Partnership in Lancaster Online.