Why Do We Value Sustainability?
Maryland & Virginia members are known across the industry as being progressive champions for sustainability.
Since 2018, our cooperative has earned nearly $76 Million for sustainability on our member farms.
Co-ops Build Farm Sustainability
In a recent edition of Dairy Defined podcast, Lindsay Reames, executive vice president of sustainability and external relations for Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association spoke with Alan Bjerga of the National Milk Producers Federation on how dairy cooperatives are a critical link in ensuring dairy-farmer leadership in meeting ambitious sustainability goals.
“Sustainability does have a number of different meanings, and I think the most important thing that we can do as a dairy co-op is understand what it means on each of our individual farms,” said Reames. “The way we approach sustainability with our member owners is by finding ways where we can add value to their operation and improve the environmental outcomes from their farm.
2022 MDVA Wins Community Impact Award
Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association (MDVA) has earned the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy’s 2022 Sustainability Award for Outstanding Community Impact.
The award recognizes dairy community efforts that improve lives and communities through positive impacts on health and wellness, hunger relief, workforce development, community volunteering and investment, and/or environmental stewardship. Successful nominations demonstrate instances where farms, cooperatives, processors, or other dairy community stakeholders develop practical and effective solutions to shared challenges and goals of the communities in which they live and work.
2022 Grayhouse Farms Wins Individual Dairy Farm Award
Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association (MDVA) is thrilled to congratulate Grayhouse Farms of Stony Point, N.C., for earning the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy’s 2022 Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability award.
In its eleventh year, the award recognizes dairy farmers who are dedicated to socially responsible, economically viable, and environmentally sound dairy production and exemplify a longstanding commitment to continuous improvement.
2021 Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability
Maryland & Virginia members Dave and Marie Graybill were honored with a U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award for Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability in November 2021.
Dave and Marie have implemented more than 30 sustainability practices on their farm, including contour farming, buffer strips and enhanced waste storage.
A rough assessment of the dairy’s no-till, cover crop, and nutrient management practices shows reduced annual losses of 2,443 pounds of nitrogen, 116 pounds of phosphorus and 255,000 pounds total of suspended solids.
2020 Outstanding Supply Chain Collaboration Award
In 2020, the Turkey Hill Clean Water Partnership earned the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy’s Outstanding Supply Chain Collaboration Award at the 2020 edition of the Center’s Sustainability Awards.
The award recognizes innovative projects and collaborative partnerships that have outstanding economic, environmental, and social benefits, and that serve as a replicable model to inform and inspire others in advancing dairy sustainability leadership.
The awarding of this honor is a testament to Maryland & Virginia’s commitment to the sustainability initiatives that the dairy industry has undertaken.
Our Latest Successes
April is Earth Month; it is a time when people around the world come together to promote sustainability and take action to protect our planet. Thanks to increasingly modern and innovative dairy farming practices, the environmental impact of producing a gallon of milk requires 30% less water, 21% less land, and a 19% smaller carbon footprint than it did in 2007. MDVA farmers are seeking to further improve those numbers by stepping up to the plate and adopting 21st-century sustainability practices, and planting trees is just one of those.
This sustainability project was kickstarted with “Accelerating Conservation in Virginia through Alliance’s Clean Water Partnerships,” a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction (NFWF INSR) grant awarded in 2021 to support a unique partnership between the Alliance and MDVA.
The partnership has received $1,000,000 in funding from NFWF and a $1,000,000 in-kind match from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation to support the implementation of sustainability practices on Virginia dairy farms that supply milk to Maola Milk.
The Mid-Atlantic Conservation Innovation Fund Climate-Smart Commodities project (the “Project”) builds on an existing partnership between CIF, ESMC, and MDVA to expand climate-smart commodity initiatives across targeted watersheds in the Mid-Atlantic. Dairy farmers will implement practices that deliver quantified carbon reductions and water quality improvements in line with verified, validated models that meet stringent sustainability reporting standards.
House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Ranking Member Garret Graves (R-LA), Representative John Rose (R-TN), Representative John Joyce, M.D. (R-PA), and Representative David Valadao (R-CA) were in attendance as part of a series of roundtables to receive stakeholder input and discuss policy opportunities on environmental and energy policy. Several additional farmers attended, as well as representatives from the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), the Pennsylvania Center for Dairy Excellence, and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.
The funding was jointly awarded to Sustainable Chesapeake, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative (MDVA), The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and Giant Food, the latter three of whom make up the Giant Clean Water Partnership. The project, titled Industry-Led Innovations in Dairy Manure Management, will demonstrate the potential for manure injection and advanced solid separation technologies that allow farmers to improve nutrient use efficiency and avoid loss of valuable manure nutrients to critical waters draining within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
Funding is awarded by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation through the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grant Program. The funding will be maximized through a strategic public-private partnership which includes MDVA, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and Giant.
The grant will help the Turkey Hill Clean Water Partnership (THCWP) to expand its goal of creating a supply-chain driven model for better water quality throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, which shares much of its area with the Maryland & Virginia milkshed.
MDVA members, the Landis family in Pennsylvania, use multiple Best Management Practices, including cover cropping, waste management and have put up new calf and heifer barns. The new calf and heifer barns help minimize run-off, improve water quality and ensure proper animal care.
Read more about the Turkey Hill Clean Water Partnership below.
Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program
Each of our member farms is required to meet or exceed the standards set in the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) program.
The FARM program is an initiative to help assure customers and consumers that dairy farmers are creating high-quality and nutritious milk in the most sustainable ways possible. The program covers three main areas of best practices for producers to implement: Animal Care, Environmental Stewardship and Workforce Development.
The Animal Care Program is the cornerstone of the FARM Program. The program outlines industry accepted best management practices that farmers must follow for every cow and calf on the farm. Each of our farms undergo evaluations of cow care and health and has regular contact with veterinarians as part of the program.
Our FARM Environmental Stewardship assessments estimate greenhouse gas emissions, measure energy use on dairy farms and provide individualized tools and resources for farmers to measure and improve their environmental footprint. Each year Maryland & Virginia’s trained FARM evaluators complete a specified number of Environmental Assessments on member farms to achieve a statistical sampling sufficient for measuring the carbon and energy footprint of our milk supply. Our ultimate goal is to work towards greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050, joining the entire dairy industry with the Net Zero Initiative.
Maryland & Virginia is proud to have been one of the first cooperatives involved with establishing the FARM Workforce Development program. Our farm families employ more than 1,500 workers. Developing the people who provide year-round excellent cow care and produce wholesome milk is a top priority. Our Workforce Development assessments offer guidance and best management practices around human resources, health, and safety. The program equips dairy farm owners and managers with tools to enhance their safe, secure and thriving work environments.
Giant Clean Water Partnership
Together, with our partners at the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and Giant Food, we are supporting our dairy farmers throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed to improve land and water quality through the Giant Clean Water Partnership (GCWP). The improvements don’t stop at our natural resources. The conservation practices funded through this partnership improve animal health, leading to higher quality dairy goodness, and ensures farm sustainability for generations to come.
The GCWP further solidifies our commitment to the region and positions our brand, Maola Milk, as the leading sustainable milk brand for families in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Turkey Hill Clean Water Partnership
The Turkey Hill Clean Water Partnership (THCWP) kicked off in 2018 after a year of planning and coordination between the three partners: Maryland & Virginia, Turkey Hill Dairy and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.
The Partnership assists members in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed with sustainability goals and conservation plans. The support of our members comes from grant funding available to partnerships like the THCWP and allows them to implement best management practices and accompanying physical constructions or equipment.
Some of the projects already completed within the THCWP framework include modern housing for calves and heifers, waste management constructions to keep manure from waterways and implementation of land management plans.
In 2020, we joined with cooperatives from across the country to begin working towards greenhouse gas neutrality for the by 2050.
Through the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, cooperatives will work with industry partners, customers and consumers to help reach these new industry-wide 2050 environmental goals:
- Achieve greenhouse gas neutrality
- Optimize water use while maximizing recycling
- Improve water quality by optimizing utilization of manure and nutrients
Maryland & Virginia also supports the Net Zero Initiative, an industry-wide effort to reduce on-farm environmental impacts I and will work with industry partners to bring technology, resources and expert knowledge to our membership.