Monthly Columns

Farm nitrogen use and its potential impact on the environment, particularly on water quality, has recently received considerable attention from university researchers. Few of these academic assessments, however, provide an objective overview of the comprehensive efforts by dairy farmers to more efficiently, effectively and sustainably apply nitrogen fertilizer.

On June 1st, Gov. Jerry Brown issued a proclamation declaring June 2016 as “Real California Milk Month.” This proclamation coincides with National Dairy Month. (See USDA’s “Let the Good Times Flow” here)

After a staff presentation on the State’s proposed Short-Lived Climate Pollution Reduction Strategy (SLCP) on May 19th, members of the California Air Resources Board (ARB) heard from numerous dairy and other representatives who were highly critical of the unrealistic dairy methane-reduction targets and looming regulatory regime in the proposal.

A recently revised Air Resources Board Climate Pollutant (SLCP)  Reduction Strategy sets highly unrealistic mandates for dairy  methane reduction. The SLCP strategy is part of the state’s  broader effort to reduce gas emissions. The plan contains targets  for dairy methane reduction including a “75 percent reduction of  dairy manure methane from 2013 levels by 2030,” and a “25  percent reduction in enteric emissions by 2030.” The major  change  in the revised plan is a proposal to begin “regulating”  dairies as  early as 2017.

While the proposed strategy recognizes the significant efforts the state’s dairies have already made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is seeking huge additional reductions and, thereby, setting the industry up for failure. California dairies have been recognized by prominent researchers as having among the lowest carbon “hoofprints” per unit of milk produced, which is the standard measure of methane emission from dairy cows.

New HopeAgriculture has long been a partnership between man and nature, and that partnership has flourished in California. The state’s dairy farmers take great pride in the sustainable practices they have cultivated and their special relationship to their land and cows. Sustainable dairy farming has been a family affair for generations in California as chronicled in the most recent Dairy Cares Sustainability Report, which is available here.

February marks the beginning of the nesting season for the tricolored blackbird, and, along with that, the increased need for awareness and conservation actions by dairy farmers and other private landowners in California. This effort is a critical part of a larger endeavor to identify sustainable habitats and practices to bolster the numbers of tricolors in California, where almost all of these birds reside.

Dairy Cares Newsletter

January 2016


Solar use continues to grow on California dairy farms

The seemingly certain prospect of a major El Niño weather pattern in California this winter has increased the likelihood that the historic four-year drought afflicting the state will be broken, but water supply reductions will most likely remain due to historically low reservoir conditions. Surface water supply allocations are currently at 10 percent or less. The El Niño pattern, which could last into the middle of 2016, generally reduces rainfall across parts of southeast and southern Asia, and brings precipitation to the western U.S. and parts of South America.

Biogas digester development continues to get a much needed boost from a variety sources in 2015.           

A Hanford dairy operator is helping to continue the trend toward cleaner air in the San Joaquin Valley, thanks to an innovative project that uses clean electric power mixers to prepare nutritious feed rations for thousands of dairy cattle each day. verwey