California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a new law demanding that dairy cows stop producing so much methane. They are basically giant fracking wells on four legs, after all.
Why focus on methane? Carbon dioxide has plummeted, thanks to what seems like a decade of gross economic mismanagement, which means fewer emissions due to people driving to work or manufacturing stuff (government jobs are, however, still doing nicely) and then we also had natural gas replace a lot of coal. Natural gas - methane - was always prized because it burns so much cleaner. Environmentalists loved it for 50 years, at least until it got popular, then suddenly they recalled that methane has 23X the warming impact of CO2, the very thing they had ridiculed as inconsequential a decade ago, stating that CO2 lasted so much longer.
They don't want to have to change chemically-sounding names again so now they just use the term "super pollutants" that contribute to global warming and they can stick whatever they want in there. And SB 1383 has now been approved and cows are being told to stop belching so much.
But it isn't just the burps that have energy; cows are ruminants, sure, but what comes out the other hand has value also. And that substance is organic manure, what organic farmers like to put in the ground and hope doesn't stay on the food after it reaches the co-packer. That thing is manure. The bill also limits stored organic waste, which means organic farmers are going to have to use the fresh stuff, which is a no-no to every smart farmer for the last 10,000 years, or they will have to ship it across state lines and then ship it back.
That won't be cost-effective so they will just import it. Yes, organic farmers will be forced to import cow poo rather than obtain it nearby. So much for locally grown. And the cost will really stink.
Why would dairy farmers agree to this madness? The government is giving them $50 million to play along, and they know these arbitrary methane levels aren't due until 2030. Sonoma County has 63 dairies with just over 28,000 cows and they produce $119 million worth of milk. Obviously wine grapes are the largest product in Sonoma County but no one is handing wineries hush money equivalent to 6 months of income in order to play along with something they won't have to think about in the future. There will be a new governor by then. Maybe one who understands the basics of science.
California Methane Caps Could Hurt Organic Farming Most