This clean-farm iniative has the potential to reach 400 Land O'Lakes member farms. Photo courtesy of Sustainable Dairy PA.

Milk, Chocolate, & a Cleaner Watershed

What do Land O’Lakes and Hershey’s chocolate have to do with the Chesapeake Bay (besides making ingredients in some of our favorite desserts)?

The two companies are teaming up with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay to improve water quality on dairy farms and reduce green house gas emissions in the watershed.

The initiative just announced, Susatainable Dairy PA, is working with 119 dairy farmers in south-central Pennsylvania on conservation efforts at individual farms. In the future the partnership could reach more than 400 Land O’Lakes member farms, which supply milk to Hershey for its chocolate products.

The alliance says dairy producers are key to improving water quality and reducing the impact of climate change. Sustainable Dairy PA aims to show that dairy farmers can use conservation tools and also be profitable. The partners believe high-quality milk produced on environmentally-friendly farms provides a premium to customers.

“Not only will this initiative help Hershey to reduce our GHG footprint and improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and other watersheds in the region, it will also help to improve soil health and protect biodiversity, and strengthen our connection to our dairy producers who are so integral to the creation of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate,” says Eric Boyle, Director of Commodities Procurement at The Hershey Company.

Land O’Lakes’ Senior Director of Member Relations, Glenda Gehl, says the company is working with its farmers to develop measurable tools to reduce their environmental footprints in a way that won’t hurt them economically.

“We recognize that global impact means teaming up with other leading organizations like The Hershey Company and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and we’re excited to support this new initiative,” says Gehl.

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay works closely with farmers on best-management practices. Both Hershey and Land O’Lakes are notably large players in the food production industry. The Hershey Company has more than 90 brands, from Kit Kat to Ice Breakers gum, driving more than $8.1 billion in annual revenue. Land O’Lakes, a member-owned cooperative, boasted sales of $14 billion in 2020.

To learn more about the new initiative, visit allianceforthebay.org/SustainableDairyPA.

-Meg Walburn Viviano