California Dairy Farms

They are setting the standard for environmental friendliness, a very good thing, as this story from the Modesto Bee reports.

An excerpt.

“Dairy farm families and cows have long been part of the San Joaquin Valley. Farms, families, cows, and rural residents continue to co-exist and depend on each other for valuable jobs, nutritious food production, and a lifestyle that local residents cherish. Dairy farmers work overtime to ensure environmental protection and remain committed to their communities.

“California dairies are more heavily regulated for environmental performance than those operating elsewhere. They pay higher wages than other parts of the country. And they continually strive to be good neighbors and good stewards of the land.

“Unfortunately, their efforts and contributions are sometimes overlooked. Make no mistake, California’s dairy families remain dedicated to planet-smart dairy farming.

“A study was recently published in the Journal of Dairy Science that documents a dramatic reduction in the environmental footprint of the state’s family dairy farms. University of California, Davis scientists conducted a life-cycle environmental assessment (cradle to farm-gate) of California dairy production, using latest scientific models and international research standards. The report documents significant environmental improvement, including:

  • The amount of greenhouse gas emissions per each unit of milk (glass or gallon) produced has decreased more than 45%, due to increased efficiency, including improved reproductive efficiency, nutrition, comfort, and overall management.
  • Water used per unit of milk produced has decreased more than 88%, primarily due to improved feed crop production and water-use efficiency.
  • Dramatically improved feed crop production and utilization of agricultural byproducts have led to significant reductions in the amount of natural resources used to produce each unit of milk, including, land, fossil fuels, and energy.

“California’s world-leading dairy methane reduction efforts are another important case in point. The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s two successful dairy methane reduction programs have already helped fund a total of 213 projects on individual farms, including 70 in Stanislaus and Merced counties alone.

“An analysis conducted by state officials shows the dairy digester program is not only providing substantial reductions in greenhouse gases but also providing substantial benefits to local communities and disadvantaged populations. The analysis shows tremendous benefits to local air quality, including substantial reductions in ammonia, reactive organic gas, particulate matter, and odor.

“Calgren Renewable Fuels and other companies are converting dairy manure methane — captured via digesters — into clean, renewable transportation fuel. With the dairy biogas projects awarded funding to date, an estimated 60 million diesel gallon equivalents of fuel will be produced each year — enough fuel to support more than 6,200 clean, natural gas trucks in the San Joaquin Valley.

“Conversion of heavy-duty trucks from diesel to cleaner alternative fuel alone will provide from 650 to 1,320 tons of reduction in oxides of nitrogen (NOx) each year, significantly cleaning the air and benefiting local communities and residents. For perspective, that is a NOx emissions reduction equivalent to taking 250,000 to 500,000 cars off valley roads each year.

“California’s dairy families are leading the world in planet-smart dairy practices. In addition to methane reduction efforts, they are working to improve water quality and further reduce water use.”

Retrieved March 24, 2020 from

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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