Monthly Columns

For most of the past two decades, there has been a robust public discussion and organized effort toward realizing the vision of building biogas digesters on California dairies. And with good reason: This technology promises the potential to create renewable energy and reduce environmental impacts while creating a new source of sustainable revenue for family farmers.

Despite this exciting potential, today, there are a little over a dozen biogas digester projects on dairies throughout California – about 1 percent of the state’s total dairies.

California dairy families are innovators, constantly looking for new ways to protect, conserve and improve natural resources, such as air, land and water. Every day, they renew their commitment to the environment with real action onthe farm, where sustainability is a way-of-life.

Earlier this month, the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Pacific Southwest Region (Region 9) recognized a Central Valley dairy family for their dedication to improving the environment. 

There’s no doubt that San Joaquin Valley air quality officials are tasked with a tough job. With its bowl shape and hot summer days, the valley is nature’s perfect oven for “baking” the basic ingredients of smog, resulting in ozone formation. 

It’s no secret that California dairy farmers are leaders on a number of sustainability issues. From implementing improved management practices that protect air, land and water resources to providing responsible care of animals, our state’s dairy farmers continue to make tremendous progress on issues important to their consumers and neighbors.

Farm families have many good stories to tell, and in recent years, the dairy community has made great progress toward making these stories heard across California.

Though millions of American families rely daily on affordable, nutritious and delicious dairy products from California, modern consumers are more and more removed from farm and rural life. That makes the task of educating consumers especially challenging and important.

Earlier this month, state water quality officials unveiled revised water quality protection regulations for Central Valley dairies. Now undergoing public review, these revised regulations propose to resolve and perhaps bring to an end nearly six years of court battles between anti-dairy activists and state regulators.

The California State Fair just wrapped up its seventeen-day run at Cal Expo in Sacramento on July 28.  As usual, the carnival atmosphere included rides, games, a deep-fried version of any food you can imagine, exhibition of livestock by 4-H and FFA members, live music and much more in the way of family entertainment.

Dairy families take their long understood role as conservationists and environmental stewards seriously.  This includes the important daily responsibility of protecting surface and groundwater resources through careful and efficient on-farm management practices.

Now, with the recent release of a short documentary, consumers, neighbors and stakeholders can get an up-close look at the many steps dairy families are taking to protect the water we all share.

The Center for Food Integrity, along with the U.S. dairy and pork industries, recently launched See It? Stop It! Animal Care Starts with You, a proactive demonstration of agriculture’s commitment to farm animal care. The initiative requires anyone working on a farm or in a farm setting to immediately report signs of animal abuse, neglect, mishandling or harm.SISI

Dairy farmers have long understood their important responsibility to steward the land and natural resources such as air and water. Conservation, preservation, re-use and recycling are fundamental values among farm families, many of whom have operated sustainably on the same land for generations.