Dairy Cooperative Rises to the Challenges of Environmental Sustainability, Farmer Support and Consumer Expectations

Reston, VA: January 23, 2019 – All member farms in Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association, Inc. (Maryland & Virginia) have been evaluated as part of the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) program. This program established by the National Milk Producers Federation helps farmers of every size and setup maintain healthy and safe practices for animals, workers and the environment. Angela Anderson, FARM Director of Customer Outreach, spoke last week to the Young Cooperators at their Annual Meeting in Lynchburg, Va., highlighting changes and expectations in the dairy industry.

In this one of several professional development sessions, Ms. Anderson discussed the ongoing evolution of the FARM program to address increasing consumer demands. She stressed the program will stay true to ethical and moral care and continue to implement science-based practices. “One of the best things about the FARM program is that its protocols are in line with ISO Certification, a global standard, which then facilitates American milk being sold anywhere in the world,” she said.

The FARM program is entering its tenth year and has expanded its focus to include environmental stewardship, workforce development, antibiotic stewardship and animal care.“Maryland & Virginia member farms have embraced the tenet of continuous improvement of the FARM Program on their farms and are ensuring that we are working together to meet our customers sustainability goals along the value chain,” said Lindsay Reames, Director of Sustainability & External Relations for Maryland & Virginia.

Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers is one cooperative in the country that has members on the FARM Farmer Advisory Council to ensure that farmer voices are represented under growing consumer pressure for change. Members Jim Biddle of Mill Hill Farms in Williamsburg, Pa. and Justin and Jennifer Mallott of Misty Meadow Farm in Smithburg, Md. sit on the FARM Farmer Advisory Council. They help bring realistic expectations to the development of program policies that impact dairy farmers across the country.FARM protocols cover all aspects of dairy farming from cow and calf care to veterinary-client relationships, record keeping, industry practices, feed and water and training for staff.

Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative is also taking a leadership role in the industry by partnering with Turkey Hill and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay to actively improve environmental impact. Last year, Turkey Hill established an incentive for all farmers supplying their plant to become conservation compliant. This partnership identifies on-farm needs for Conservation Plans, Manure Management Plans and Nutrient Management Plans. The goal is to improve local stream health which will lead to improving the quality of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. “This partnership has brought together multiple sectors of the dairy industry and developed an innovate approach to helping farmers reach conservation compliance,” said Lindsay Reames.

CONTACT: Lindsay Reames 804-370-4324