In California's consistent quest to put the plug in global warming, the Smurf-blue state has turned its attention to dairy cow derrieres, and the gasses said bovine backsides issue forth.
According to Fox 5 in New York, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation into law that will limit the methane gas rising from farms created by the cows belching, farting, and manure. Methane is a much more unfriendly greenhouse gas than carbon-dioxide, and while some would celebrate this as another step toward curbing global warming, the law was signed in the face of much protest by California farmers.
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.
"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."
In order to help farmers cope with the new regulations, California is said to be setting aside $50 million in taxpayer money to equip dairy farms with "digesters," which are large machines that can turn the methane gas captured by manure into electricity. Sadly, the state does not have enough to go around for the largest milk producer in the U.S., holding some 1,500 farms.
Sadly, not all farmers can afford to purchase a digester, such as Arlin Van Groningen, a third-generation farmer.
"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."
No matter how you slice it, it would seem that California is going to drive further business out of its state with regulations that its business owners cannot keep up with, and it will soon lose many of the farms that help its already burdened economy.