What do cows have to do with the environment?
As the nation’s leading dairy state - where ranchers own or manage over 34 million acres of California rangeland - California dairy farmers and cattle ranchers are doing their part to help make cows a part of the broader solution to environmental challenges.
One way they are contributing is through carbon sequestration - the long-term capture and storage of carbon from the atmosphere, typically as carbon dioxide. Private grazing lands can assist with carbon sequestration in both soil and biomass to reduce impacts to the environment. Working rangelands on the Central Coast can provide up to 268 pounds of carbon storage per acre.
Another way they are contributing is through the use of dairy digesters. Digesters capture methane, which can be used to create various forms of renewable energy. While the state’s earlier digesters have created electricity, more than 58 dairy farms are now in various stages of developing projects that will create carbon-negative transportation fuel to replace the use of diesel in heavy-duty trucks.
Dairies are also implementing alternative manure management practices that reduce the formation of methane from manure. Many of these practices also provide compost, which can be used to promote Healthy Soils and carbon sequestration.
Other positive impacts that beef producers provide to California include groundwater capture and fire protection through grazing.
INCENTIVES FOR PROGRESS
Government incentives are now available to dairy farmers to modernize their facilities with newer, sustainable technologies that may not otherwise be affordable to invest in. These policies coupled with guidance from ongoing research lay the groundwork for meaningful impact when it comes to achieving our environmental goals.
While there is more that can be done here and across the globe to mitigate the effects of climate change from all industries, California’s dairy farm and cattle ranch families are dedicated to doing their part.Do you support finding innovative solutions - like carbon sequestering - that help resolve California's most pressing issues? Please join us in spreading the word that there is a New Way for California!