Monthly Columns

Recent headlines read, “California dairy herds contribute heavily to smog” and “LA smog: More cows than cars?” Attention grabbing? Yes. True? No.

As most dairy operators already know, water quality regulations adopted in May 2007 require all Central Valley dairies to install monitoring wells to demonstrate that management practices designed to protect groundwater are working properly. These regulations also require that samples from the wells are regularly tested at a certified laboratory to determine water quality.

With rising energy costs and the mounting number of home foreclosures, the economy continues to struggle to shake-off the effects of the 2009 economic downturn. Like other sectors, the California dairy community felt the impact of the “Great Recession," with 48 family dairies forced to close their barn doors and milking parlors just last year. That’s in addition to the nearly 200 family dairies that went out of business from 2009 to 2010. 

Water has long been valued by farmers as a precious, finite resource to be utilized efficiently and responsibly. So it’s no surprise that today’s dairy farmers are dedicated to conserving, recycling and protecting the water we all share.  

As the 2012 presidential election takes shape, jump-starting the economy has been the dominant subject of the political dialogue. A key part of this conversation has been the issue of regulatory reform on topics ranging from banking and the environment to labor and energy. While this important discussion continues in the national spotlight, a host of important regulatory decisions and efforts will be made at state, county and community levels. These decisions, made much closer to home, often have a major impact on local economies and environmental resources.

California dairy families are justifiably proud of the contributions they make to their local communities, our state and our nation. And 2011 provided many examples of how these contributions have helped to build stronger communities, a better environment and a more prosperous economy.

Millions of American families will gather around dinner tables this holiday season to reflect and give thanks. Likely on the list of things to be thankful for will be the turkey, stuffing and many other holiday foods that fill plates and ultimately bellies.

Indeed, American consumers have a lot to be thankful for when it comes to food.  We all enjoy a plethora of delicious, affordable, safe and nutritious food options 365 days-a-year thanks to the efficiency, innovation and hard work of U.S. farmers and ranchers.

California is well-known for many things across our nation and around the world.  Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Disneyland, surfing and movie star governors just to name a few. But California has another important distinction as the home to an industry that nourishes millions of people across the globe.

A concerted, positive movement is sweeping the countryside.  Thanks to the advent of smartphones, flip cameras and social media, farmers are telling their stories directly to their consumers, neighbors and community leaders.  Look on YouTube and you’ll find videos such as “What we do on our family dairy farm” and “Caring for animals on a dairy farm.”                                                       

What is sustainability? Producing and providing goods and services in a way that maximizes benefits to people and the environment. These days, it’s a much-discussed topic among a wide array of industries, from energy and transportation to construction and even fashion.