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December 3, 2021
The Alliance is on a mission to accelerate and broaden our impact throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Bay Program estimates that agriculture contributes 42 percent of the nitrogen, 55 percent of the phosphorus and 60 percent of the sediment entering the Bay. Working with farmers is key to meeting our Bay goals and because of this, we have prioritized building our agriculture program. In just six years since the Alliance began focusing on our agriculture program, we have experienced tremendous success and growth throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. 2021 has been a year of significant and exciting growth for our agriculture program and we’re looking forward to sharing some details about the expansions!
In 2016, the Alliance received our first grant focused on supporting farmers in the Octoraro Watershed in Southern Lancaster and Chester Counties with the installation of conservation practices to protect water quality. Through this grant, we prioritized small, Amish dairy farmers traditionally underserved by existing federal and state programs. We built our projects to be as simple as possible for our farmers, minimizing paperwork and costs while maximizing impact on local streams. As interest grew in our program we were successful in receiving more grant dollars for additional projects and our focus on farmers grew to such an extent that we moved our office from Camp Hill, PA to Lancaster County, PA to be closer to the farming community.
(Farmer Educational Workshop in Octoraro Watershed, Southern Lancaster County)
We struck gold in 2017 through an introduction to Turkey Hill Dairy. We worked with Turkey Hill discussing their interest in supporting the farmers supplying milk for Turkey Hill’s ice cream to improve their impact on local water quality and built the Turkey Hill Clean Water Partnership. Through this partnership, we continue to work with Turkey Hill’s dairy cooperative, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association (MDVA), to support dairy farmers supplying to Turkey Hill in obtaining and implementing their conservation plans. Now, four years later, we have received close to $10 million in support of MDVA’s member farms that provide milk to Turkey Hill.
(Heifers on an MDVA member farm supplying to Turkey Hill)
Our partnership with MDVA and Turkey Hill taught us the tremendous value of partnering with the private sector and we have now prioritized corporate partnerships to increase our impact and effectiveness in supporting farmers in the Bay watershed. We now have partnerships with Land O’Lakes, the Hershey Company, Organic Valley, Giant Foods, Perdue, and others.
2021 has been a landmark year for us in that we have officially expanded our agricultural program into Maryland and Virginia by hiring agricultural program staff in each state for the first time in Alliance history while also growing the Pennsylvania agriculture program team. We are so excited to add Christian Anderson as Virginia Agriculture Program Manager, Tyler Walston as Maryland Agriculture Program Coordinator, and Alexandra Neumann as Pennsylvania Agriculture Program Associate to our agriculture program team. In 2016, we had one staff person partially focused on agriculture efforts and now we have five staff members solely dedicated to our agricultural work.
Through our many partnerships, we are connected to over 3,000 farmers within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and are actively seeking opportunities to increase and leverage funding to support them in meeting their conservation goals. Restoring the Chesapeake Bay requires collaboration between all communities, companies, and conservationists across the Watershed and the Alliance is thrilled to be working with the many businesses and farmers we call partners to play our part.
(Heifers on a Land O’ Lakes member farm supplying to Hershey)
We are grateful to our many funders that have made this expansion possible – USDA NRCS, EPA Region 3, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Keith Campbell Foundation, PA DCNR, and others and look forward to our continued growth and impact throughout the watershed.
Pennsylvania State Director and Agriculture Program Director
(717) 517 8698
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