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Clean water partnership garners EPA grant to help dairy farmers

TAGS: Business
Projects will improve local stream health, which will help improve quality of Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The Turkey Hill Clean Water Partnership (THCWP) has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fund on-farm conservation efforts within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Dairy farmer members of the Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative that supply Turkey Hill Dairy will use these funds to make improvements on their farms. Those projects will improve local stream health, which will lead to improving the quality of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

“We have seen tremendous success through our partnership with Turkey Hill Dairy and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay,” said Lindsay Reames, director of sustainability and external relations for Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative. “Our focus now is to find revenue streams to support our ongoing work and the projects our members need help implementing. Whether it’s creating an updated nutrient management plan or providing cost-share support for the construction of a new manure storage facility, the Turkey Hill Clean Water Partnership is doing good things for our farmers, our customers, our communities and our streams -- and we want to keep that forward momentum going.”

THCWP seeks out private funds to offset the costs of on-farm conservation practices, including creating and updating nutrient management plans. It also helps pay for on-farm conservation projects like planting forested buffer strips, expanding manure storage capacity and building heifer barns to reduce runoff.

Since its inception in 2018, THCWP has secured more than $2.5 million in grants from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation to support on-farm conservation efforts. It has also helped farmers utilize more than $2 million in support from PENNVEST, which provides low-interest loans and grants for non-point-source pollution prevention best management practices.

This latest grant is awarded through the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund, a partnership between EPA and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.

To date, THCWP has funded 42 conservation plans and committed $800,000 to implement on-farm conservation practices. Currently, 96% of the farms supplying milk to Turkey Hill Dairy have an updated conservation plan or are in the process of receiving an updated plan. Through these efforts, the partnership has achieved pollutant load reductions totaling 421,327.5 lb. of nitrogen per year, 7,198.3 lb. of phosphorus per year and 2,920.9 tons of sediment per year.

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