Reflections on Earth Day

By Lindsay Reames, Vice President, Sustainability & External Relations

“You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

We’ve all said it. But here at Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association we are learning that we can have great dairy, healthy cows, and clean water, too.

In honor of Earth Day, more than 160 Giant grocery retailers in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC are promoting the hard work of our dairy farm families by featuring “Better for the Bay” freezer clings that advertise our Giant Clean Water Partnership and Turkey Hill Clean Water Partnership. This call-out helps connect ice cream consumers to the sustainably sourced milk produced by more than 500 of our member-owners in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

This month Giant is also featuring Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay as the benefactor for their reusable bag sales. If there’s a Giant in your area, we encourage you to purchase a purple “Give Back” bag which gives $1 back to the Alliance. This promotion, which runs through the end of April, will support sustainable investments on our member farms.

Our monthly Member Webinar held this week put a spotlight on on-farm sustainability practices. Members Wesley Heatwole and Jimmy Gray shared their real-life experiences in a conversation moderated by Dave Graybill.

“Every (conservation) practice that we’ve put in place has worked,” said Jimmy Gray. “We are motivated by our successes in conservation, and usually we can find both technical and financial help to do them.”

Over 70% of MDVA member-owners operate their dairy farms within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. It is our combined responsibility to ensure the Bay remains healthy. MDVA is here to provide our members with the resources they need to install best management practices through our partnerships with Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Giant, and Turkey Hill.

Since 2017, funding through our Clean Water Partnership has helped to complete over 60 Best Management Practices (BMPs), including acquisition of no-till equipment, and completed over 30 conservation and manure management plans. Our most limiting factor? Money. MDVA’s member-owners are standing in line to implement conservation projects on their farms.

Leveraging these partnerships, and producing tangible results, will help move us towards our goal of creating a dairy supply chain of the future.

Maola Local Dairies, owned and operated by Maryland & Virginia, is competitively distinguished in the marketplace by the sustainability initiatives our farmers are implementing on the ground. As consumers seek items that meet their environmental and social values, Maryland & Virginia, through our Maola brand, will be the local cooperative that meets those needs. You can learn more about these efforts at the new page on Maola’s website.

How we farm matters,” said Gray. “The way we farm and how we farm has a tremendous impact on our environment. Because we have adopted this value as a cooperative, we can confidently say that Maryland & Virginia will be a part of the solution for many Earth Days of the future.