Dairy Farmers Scramble for Solutions to Reduce Methane

California dairy farmers are looking to purchase $500 million in “Fart Packs” rather than reducing herd size.


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Dairy farmers in California are looking for ways to meet the quota of reducing their farms’ methane emissions. Last month, California governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that requires dairy farmers to lower their methane output by 40 percent by 2024 in order to curb the massive pollution currently being produced by the three million cows the state houses. General manager of California dairy group Milk Producers Council Rob Vandenheuvel says farmers are hard-pressed for solutions and are looking to install methane digesters—devices that remove methane from manure. Vandenheuvel points out that taxpayers would likely be unwilling to subsidize methane digesters—which will cost upwards of $500 million—because he believes “most people don’t even realize where their milk comes from.” Vandenheuvel says that dairy farmers have been exploring other options as well, including a product developed in Argentina called a “Fart Pack,” or a backpack worn by individual cows which traps and removes methane from cow flatulence. While Vandenheuvel looks for answers outside of reducing herd sizes to meet the set methane reduction goals, former California dairy farmers have turned to cultivating almond groves instead to capitalize on the growing dairy alternative market—estimated to reach $35 billion by 2024, and driven by profits generated by the almond milk market.

Photo courtesy of Reuters