Dairy Farmers, County Regulators Work Together for the Benefit of Valley’s Economy, Environment

As the 2012 presidential election takes shape, jump-starting the economy has been the dominant subject of the political dialogue. A key part of this conversation has been the issue of regulatory reform on topics ranging from banking and the environment to labor and energy. While this important discussion continues in the national spotlight, a host of important regulatory decisions and efforts will be made at state, county and community levels. These decisions, made much closer to home, often have a major impact on local economies and environmental resources.

Take for example the progress being made on regulatory reform by dairy farmers and regulators in Tulare County. Since 2008, farmers and county officials have worked together to update and improve the current Tulare County General Plan Dairy Ordinance, with the county’s dairy farmers investing more than $700,000 in the process to date. One of the major accomplishments of this collaborative effort will be the streamlining of duplicative regulations, by aligning the county’s Dairy Ordinance with existing regional water and air quality protections.

Dairy farmers throughout the Central Valley already operate under the nation’s strictest dairy water and air quality protection regulations. Through compliance with San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District measures, dairy farmers have reduced emissions by more than 28 percent over the past five years. And they continue to implement daily management practices to reduce gases that contribute to regional air quality.
When it comes to protecting our valuable water resources, dairies utilize Nutrient Management Plans to ensure their crops receive proper amounts of natural fertilizer, and that water quality is preserved and protected. This includes the regular sampling of soil, water and plant tissue, which are laboratory analyzed to verify proper management, in accordance with state water quality regulations.

This alignment of county water and air quality regulations in the nation’s largest dairy county, which generates more than $1 billion in economic activity, is a win-win for the local economy and environment. By eliminating the need for redundant paperwork and fees, dairy farmers can continue to focus on what they do best – caring for their cows and producing nutritious, safe and affordable dairy products for millions of families to enjoy.

Neighbors and consumers can also have confidence that dairy farmers are living up to their social responsibility to protect our most precious natural resources through continued compliance with the most protective dairy environmental regulations in the nation.

The four-year process is nearing an important milestone with the first public scoping meeting of the Environmental Impact Report for the revised Dairy Ordinance scheduled for February 2, 2012. The meeting stands as an opportunity for dairy farmers, agricultural partners and the community at-large to show their support for Tulare County’s biggest economic contributor and for smarter, more efficient regulation.
More information about the upcoming scoping meeting is available here.

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