Air Resources Board to Rein In Cow Flatulence

Public Enemy #1: Cow Flatulence

 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

While not a popular or sexy topic of discussion, flatulence is a very natural activity. Who amongst us hasn’t occasionally burped, belched, or otherwise passed a little gas? When guilty of passing waste gases such as hydrogen, carbon dioxide, methane and other trace gases due to the microbial breakdown of foods during digestion, we may say, “Excuse me.”

 

California CattleBut for dairy cows and other cattle, manners do not suffice; the California Air Resources Board (ARB) has a low tolerance for such naturally occurring and climate-altering gaseousness. The ARB is planning to mandate a 25% reduction in burps and other windy waftage from dairy cows and other cattle, as well as through improved manure management.

 

Anja Raudabaugh, CEO of the Modesto-based Western United Dairymen (WUD), said, “The ARB wants to regulate cow emissions, even though the ARB’s Short-Lived Climate Pollutant (SLCP) reduction strategy acknowledges that there’s no known way to achieve this reduction. The ARB thinks they have ultimate authority, even over what the legislature has given them: two Senate Bills—SB 32 and SB 1383—to limit the emissions from dairy cows and other cattle.”

 

“We have a social media campaign addressing the legislative advocacy components,” Raudabaugh explained, “to make the legislatures aware that this authority has not been given to ARB by the legislature, and to bring that into perspective.” Raudabaugh said while SB 32 is not that popular because it calls for raising taxes, SB 1383 is worrisome, “because if anybody wanted to achieve something of a win for the legislature this year with respect to greenhouse gas emissions, this is the only bill left,” she said.

 

WUD Cattle Flatulence Social Media FB
Cattle Flatulence Social Media (Source: Western United Dairymen Facebook)

Raudabaugh said that in order for the ARB to achieve their mandated 75% reduction in total dairy methane emissions, they are proposing that 600 dairy digesters be put on the methane grid by 2030. According to the ARB’s own analysis that could cost as much as several billion dollars—more than $2 million, on average, for each of California’s remaining 1,400 family dairy farms.

 

“That is not only expensive, but digesters do not work for every dairy. They can be an option for some, but because of their expense and the reality that not everyone ‘dairies’ the same way, digesters cannot be a mandated solution,” noted Raudabaugh. “All dairy personnel and other interested Californians should contact your state legislature and urge them to veto both bills and not allow the ARB more powers than they actually have.”

California Depends on National Dairy Month

National Dairy Month Encourages Americans to Eat More Cheese

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Across the country, National Dairy Month will be celebrated during the month of June to promote the consumption of dairy products. Though California is the number one dairy state, California dairy farmers have been experiencing a decline in dairy production amidst high labor costs, competition from other states and declining profit.

Founded in 1937 as National Milk Month with the goal of increasing milk consumption to stabilize the dairy surplusthe holiday was renamed National Dairy Month to encompass all dairy products.

Anja Raudabaugh, CEO of Western United Dairymen
Anja Raudabaugh, CEO of Western United Dairymen

Anja Raudabaugh, CEO of Western United Dairymen in Modesto, Calif., is hopeful that celebrating National Milk Month will educate more consumers about the health benefits of diary products, increase dairy consumption opportunities, open more markets and enable the lagging dairy industry in California to better compete with other states.

States such as South Dakota and Wisconsin have ramped up their milk production significantly, which has stressed California producers to even the gap. According to Raudabaugh, the term oversupply doesn’t necessarily apply to the dairy conditions in this state. She remarked, “We’re actually in a 17-month decline at the moment, which is the longest decline [in milk production] we have ever been in.”

The dairy industry has managed to be very competitive with wages, another stressor, but the high labor costs are hurting production companies. “As things get more and more competitive globally,” said Raudaubaugh, “we are going to continue to struggle to figure out how those margins play out.”

“The margin is going to continue to shrink, especially as wages get more and more competitive,” Raudaubaugh observed. “Being a worker on a dairy farm is certainly very wage-competitive throughout the agricultural industry. We cannot keep workers at anything less than about $16 or $15 an hour as it is, so it’s a good time to be a worker in the dairy industry. It’s a good craft and skill to have if you become a milker.”Real California Cheese Logo

Given Western United Dairymen’s mission to promote and administer programs and policies aimed at maintaining the longevity of the dairy industry on the West Coast, and as the milk industry struggles and continues to face tough times, Raudabaugh has a solution: “Eat more cheese.”

Enter: National Cheese Day every June 4! According to the California Milk Advisory Board website and California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) 2014 data, California is the #2 cheese producing state—right behind Wisconsin—and the #1 producer of Monterey Jack cheese. An amazing 43% of California’s cow’s milk is used to make California cheese, which is produced by more than 50 California cheesemakers.

Even beyond cheese, Raudabaugh said, “There is a tremendous amount of diversity in the way people have exposure to dairy products they don’t even know about. There are yogurts and sour creams, ice creams, and whey products.”  She believes market sectors should understand more about the dairy products consumers are exposed to every day to increase not only more milk consumption, but higher-value dairy as well.

“The diversification of the product line is really what has kept us in business,” reflects Raudabaugh, “It’s what keeps us looking to the horizon and looking to the future optimistically, even in the face of some pretty bad milk prices right now.”

Remember California dairy producers, particularly, this monthNational Dairy Month, and try a new dairy product. And discover a new cheese tomorrow, June 4, National Cheese Day!

WUD: Yes on Federal Milk Marketing Order

Continued Coverage on Milk Hearing

WUD: Yes on Federal Milk Marketing Order

Hearing in Clovis is the Super Bowl for California Dairy Producers

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

 

Anja Raudabaugh, CEO of Western United Dairymen, which represents half of the dairies in California, is closely watching the USDA special hearing to evaluate four proposals to convert California’s State Marketing Order to the Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO).

On September 22, in Clovis, Raudabaugh said, “This is an historic day. It is like a Super Bowl for California dairy producer. We welcome the opportunity for fair prices and better prices for California dairy producers, and that is what we are to support today. We are hoping to get better opportunities for our producers.”

“We are going to be testifying in support of the Cooperatives Proposal,” said Raudabaugh.

The dairy cooperatives – California Dairies Inc., Land O’ Lakes, and Dairy Farmers of America – say a federal pricing structure would fix the inequity that exists between the state’s dairy farmers and the rest of the nation.

Raudabaugh said the industry will need to see what the USDA actually delivers in terms of a federal order. “We have a proposal that we’d like to see happen,” she said. “It all depends on what the ultimate outcome is. We will review it with our membership at that time.”

It could take up to a year for the USDA to issue its proposal.

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Western United Dairymen