Digesting Environmental Policy: California Dairies Are Swimming in It

Technological advancement will help California dairies to move towards sustainable management, as producers implement and monitor their adherence to increasing regulations.

In recent years, several new regulations were passed in California. These, and potential future, regulations will have a significant impact on dairies in the state. The primary goal of these regulations is to mitigate the impact of dairy production on the environment, while allowing dairies to continue to produce efficiently. A producer’s goal is therefore to develop a comprehensive system that is environmentally and economically sustainable, while providing adherence to these regulations.

Producers who are able to convert to subsurface drip irrigation, improving their crop management, could see increased yields, freeing up to 25 percent of their land for other investments. The cost of digesters can be offset and possibly be profitable for those dairies which have economies of scale and are able to afford major capital expenditures. Yet, as costs of production are set to increase, some dairies will be pushed to retire or further consolidate.

Where to go from here