In yet another attack on California businesses, yesterday Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill (SB 1383) that requires the state to cut methane emissions from dairy cows and other animals by 40% by 2030. The bill is yet another massive blow to the agricultural industry in the state of California that has already suffered from the Governor's passage of a $15 minimum wage and a recent bill that makes California literally the only state in the entire country to provide overtime pay to seasonal agricultural workers after working 40 hours per week or 8 hours per day (see "California Just Passed A $1.7 Billion Tax On The Whole Country That No One Noticed").
According to a statement from Western United Dairymen CEO, Anja Raudabaugh, California's Air Resources Board wants to regulate animal methane emissions even though it admits there is no known method for achieving the the type of reduction sought by SB 1383.
"The California Air Resources Board wants to regulate cow emissions, even though its Short-Lived Climate Pollutant (SLCP) reduction strategy acknowledges that there’s no known way to achieve this reduction."
Among other things, compliance with the bill will likely require California dairies to install "methane digesters" that convert the organic matter in manure into methane that can then be converted to energy for on-farm or off-farm consumption. The problem, of course, is that methane digesters are expensive and with California producing 20% of the country's milk we suspect that means that California has just passed another massive "food tax" on the country.
That said, many California dairies will probably elect to simply close down and move to other states as they did in 2015. Per the California Department of Food and Agriculture, all but 1 of California's top 10 dairy producing counties saw a reduction in dairy production in 2015.
The National Federation of Independent Businesses highlighted the detrimental effects of SB 1383 on small business, describing the bill as a "direct assault on California’s dairy industry."
“SB 1383 (Lara) creates an inconsistent, new climate change policy which will further increase the cost of doing business in California, especially for our agricultural economy. This mandated 40% reduction in methane and 50% reduction in anthropogenic black carbon gas represents a direct assault on California’s dairy industry and will hurt manufacturing by creating an arbitrary limit on natural gasses which dissipate quickly. The process by which this bill developed is also troubling; complex amendments were taken in the final hours of the legislative session, barring small business owners from understanding the impacts of this bill and voicing their strong opposition.
But Jerry Brown's new restrictions on cow flatulence isn't bad news for everyone...perhaps there is now hope for Argentina's cow fart backpack invented by the National Institute of Agricultural Technology.
SB 1383 can be read in its entirety below.