State Report on Livestock and Dairy Methane Emissions Misses the Mark

Posted on Thursday, September 30th, 2021 by Jeanne Merrill

Livestock and Dairy Methane Emissions Report Misses the Mark

The state legislature recently passed a budget package that restored funding for the Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP), which provides financial support for livestock and dairy producers to invest in infrastructure and practices that reduce methane emissions. Read more about that budget package here.

2013 methane emissions

The budget news follows a recent draft report by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) on the progress made by the dairy and livestock industries to reduce methane emissions. The report is required under SB 1383, legislation passed in 2016, which requires the dairy and livestock industries in the state to reduce their methane emissions by 40 percent by 2030. SB 1383 is part of an overall effort by the state to reduce short-lived climate pollutants, which includes methane.

The Report Findings

Overall, the draft report finds that more needs to be done by the dairy and livestock sectors to meet their 40 percent reduction target by 2030. Below is a chart from the draft report. It shows the dairy and livestock sectors’ methane emissions reduction target in red and, in blue, projected methane emissions from the dairy and livestock sectors without additional state support.

dairy methane reduction

Unfortunately, in the draft report, CARB does little to advance our understanding of the role of alternative manure management practices – like dry manure handling and storage and pasture-based systems that reduce methane emissions –  and how scaling up their use on the state’s dairy and livestock operations might help the state achieve its climate goals.

Instead, CARB focuses heavily on scaling up dairy digesters, and ambitious changes in animal feed additives to reduce enteric fermentation. But the draft provides little analysis on whether or not greatly expanding digesters in the state and industry adoption of new feed additives are feasible or effective strategies.

CalCAN and several of our coalition members submitted a comment letter calling for a much more detailed and robust analysis of the use and potential for scaling up alternative manure management practices. The letter also calls for improved analysis of digesters to better understand the constraints on digester-focused strategy.  We anticipate the final SB 1383 dairy methane progress report to come out in the coming months.

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