This has to be one of the most ridiculous things I have heard thus far. According to Fox 6 News in New York, California Governor Jerry Brown has recently passed legislation that will work to limit the methane gases that are released from cows. I am not even making this up right now.
To continue, dairy farmers are having to purchase equipment to trap the gases. According to Fox 6 News:
Dairy farmers say the new regulations will drive up costs when they’re already struggling with five years of drought, low milk prices and rising labor costs. They’re also concerned about a newly signed law that will boost overtime pay for farmworkers.
It just makes it more challenging. We’re continuing to lose dairies. Dairies are moving out of state to places where these costs don’t exist,” said Paul Sousa, director of environmental services for Western United Dairymen.
The dairy industry could be forced to move production to states and countries with fewer regulations, leading to higher emissions globally, Sousa said.
California is literally driving away business. Farmers cannot afford to keep up with the taxes and regulations put on their backs. One farmer named Rob talked about his personal struggle with keeping his farm going in California.
“We think it’s very foolish for the state of California to be taking this position,” said Rob Vandenheuvel, general manager for the Milk Producers Council. “A single state like California is not going to make a meaningful impact on the climate.”
“The bottom line is it’s going to negatively impact the economics of the California dairy industry,” Van Groningen said. “In the dairy business, the margins are so slim that something like this will force us out of state.”
It all seems pretty silly to force the farmer to add unnecessary cost to their process for gas which has very little scientifically proven effect on the environment other than smelling foul.
The regulation would require that farmers invest costly devices to deal with the gas. The three main designs for farm-based digesters are the covered anaerobic lagoon, plug-flow, and complete mix (or continually stirred tank reactor). The solids content of the material to be digested is an important criterion in the choice of digester design. Plug-flow digesters work best at a solids content of 11–13 percent, so they work well with dairy manure from operations that collect it by scraping or other methods that do not add much additional water. Complete-mix digesters work at a wider range of 2–10 percent solids, which makes them suitable for a greater variety of materials including swine manure and processing wastes as well as dairy manure. Variations on these three basic designs have been developed to enhance biogas output and/or to deal with varying moisture levels and other digestate characteristics.
Here is just 1 example of a digester and the cost to the farmer: Anaerobic manure digester. The current capital cost range for complete digester systems is estimated at $1,000 to $2,000 per cow depending on herd size, with the cost to maintain an engine-generator set at $0.015 to $0.02/kWh of electricity generated.
Anaerobic manure digesters (also called methane digesters) collect manure and convert the energy stored in its organic matter into methane, which is used to produce energy (gas or electricity) for on-farm or off-farm use. The conversion to methane is the result of anaerobic digestion—a biochemical process in which organic matter is decomposed by bacteria in the absence of oxygen. Digesters must be airtight (no oxygen) for anaerobic digestion to occur.
Methane is often called biogas; technically, biogas is methane plus other anaerobic digestion byproducts. At any rate, the gas is flared or combusted to generate energy—a process with multiple other benefits including (among others) significantly reduced feedlot odors and greenhouse gas emissions.
Generally, manure used in digesters should have a total solids concentration of 14% or less and be mostly free of soil, sand, stones or fibrous bedding material (it can be processed to remove these materials). Supplemental feedstocks such as food processing wastes and wastewater can often be added to manure digesters.