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BrownfieldAgNews reports:

A dairy group says producers in California will suffer under a new state methane emissions law signed Monday.

Anja Raudabaugh, CEO of Western United Dairymen, says the California law requires dairies to reduce by 40% methane emissions from manure by the year 2030. She tells Brownfield the methane digesters cost more than $6 million each, and half of the existing ones are off-line because they don't work. "Most of the dairies are really trying to think about whether or not they're going to invest in all of that technology before they move forward, and what the longevity of their situations are."

Raudabaugh says over-regulation, the drought, high production costs, and low milk prices are already forcing many California dairy farms out of business, and they are very concerned with how the new regulation will further impact the cost of production. "We have not seen the cost of production go down, in fact, what we continue to see are added regulatory burdens that make it even worse."

Raudabaugh says the state has $50 million in assistance available, but the cost to build 200 digesters is more than $10 billion. She says if producers build a digester, it's almost impossible to see a return on the investment. "You really need a dairy of size. You need something that probably has over 1,200 cows to even consider making it viable, but the biggest problem is that there is not a lucrative electricity or utility market for these digesters."

Raudabaugh says utilities are not interested in buying electricity from the farms because the grid infrastructure isn't there to move it.

California agribusinesses are also dealing with water diversion issues during a drought and a new mandatory $15 minimum wage and overtime law passed in September.

California and the state's Milk Advisory Board say more than 440,000 people work to produce one-fifth of the country's milk and send more than 40% of the U.S. dairy exports.

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