December 19, 2016

California Producers Navigate Methane Reduction Bill

Top Story  |   |  By: Anna-Lisa Laca

Dairy producers in California already face some of the greatest challenges in the industry with water issues, regulatory burden and the highest minimum wage in the country. Farmers there are now facing a new challenge: significantly reducing methane production on their dairy. California State Bill 1383 requires producers reduce their methane emissions from manure up to 40% below 2013 levels by 2030.

“With the passage of Senate Bill 1383 many dairy producers are wondering what it means for them and their dairy,” says Paul Sousa director of environmental services & regulatory affairs for Western United Dairymen. “Sales people have also been paying attention and some see an opportunity to cash in on this new regulation.”

Sousa says the only way dairy farmers can make these reductions and take credit for them from carbon credits is to install a digester. With just more than 200 digesters reported on dairy farms nationwide, they are growing in number despite the incredible cost of the technology. Producers in California have some time to implement necessary changes.

“SB 1383 states that any regulation can only take effect on or after January 2024 if the regulations are technologically and economically feasible,” Sousa says. “This gives dairy families 7 years to prepare and to implement reductions voluntarily with incentive funding.”

The California Department of Food and Agriculture has $50 million of funding available to help farmers achieve the goals of this legislation voluntarily Sousa says.

“Much more funding will be needed to help dairies make the reductions,” he says.