Monday, January 9, 2017

Will California Kill Its Cash Cows?

In the "Golden State" of California, dairy products are truly gold.  It is the state's number one agricultural commodity.  So, why would anyone in their right mind want to jeopardize this proverbial cash cow. Leave it to Governor Brown and the State Legislature of California to do just that.

In an effort to control the State's methane gas production from dairy cows, and save the world from climate change, farmers in the state must now control the methane production caused by cows.  In fact, by 2030, they must reduce the methane from cow farts and manure to levels that are 40% less than the measured levels of 2013.

The insanity of this law is that it isn't achievable, and it places a high financial burden on dairy farmers in the state.

Now, according to NASA, atmospheric methane production breaks down as follows:

As you can see, animal waste (manure) accounts for just 5% of the methane in our atmosphere.  16% comes from enteric fermentation (farts from ruminants like cows).  Thus, 21% of the total methane comes from these farm animals.  And, if only 5% is from manure, then manure management will address only 24% of the required 40% methane reduction. Thus, most of the reduction in methane from "Elsie" and her sisters is going to have to come from controlling cow farts.   I hardly think that diet and exercise is the solution.  Essentially, the only way to control cow farts is to get rid of cows.

Now, methane reduction from manure is achievable.  But, at a high cost.  This can be done by building anaerobic digesters.  Manure must be collected and placed in a custom airtight chamber and through a process of fermentation, a flammable gas is produced and contained.  Then, that gas is used to produce electricity that is sold back to the local electric utility.  In doing so, they lose the composting of manure that produced a high quality fertilizer that was used to enhance the feed in their grazing fields.  But, more importantly, there's the cost for "digesters".  Costs range from $1000 to 2000 per cow; depending on the size of the dairy farm.  Since there are 1.8 million head of dairy cows in the state, at best case ($1000 per cow), farmers would have to spend $1.8 billion in compliance.  $3.6 billion, worst case.   Since there are roughly 1500 farmers in the state, the average farmer will have to spend at least $1.2 million dollars to have a digester built on their property.  California dairy farmers are already losing money due to the drought and this added expense could see the shutdown of this industry in a State where farmers are already going bankrupt or moving elsewhere.

This is a perfect example of climate zealots not thinking about their actions.  Blinded by ideology, they are going to bring a lot of pain to a lot of people.  Then there is the consumer who will suffer higher prices for milk and milk products.


Cow farts can now be regulated in California:

California's New Cow Fart Regulations Totally Stink:

Source of Chart: Atmospheric Methane:

Anaerobic Digestion:

Cost of Anaerobic Digesters:

Economy of California:

Udder Confusion: Dairy Digester Development in California:

California losing dairies, cows, production as prices fall:

California Livestock and Dairy:


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