Environmental Certification Offers Savings, Peace of Mind to Dairy Producers

If the atmosphere of the dairy community could be summed up in one word, “uncertainty” has a strong case to make. Volatile feed costs, the Midwest drought and low milk prices at the farm make it hard to predict, much less plan for the future.
Fortunately, when it comes to the complex world of environmental regulatory compliance, dairy farmers in the Golden State have a proven, time-tested environmental certification program they can trust – the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP).

CDQAP’s Environmental Certification process takes the guesswork out of understanding California’s extensive water and air quality regulations and offers dairy producers peace of mind with the certainty of knowing their farm is in compliance with existing environmental protections. It’s instructive to note that CDQAP does not create or enforce regulations. Rather, their experienced evaluators use a uniform checklist to work through your farm with you, your staff and advisors to ensure compliance with current regulations.

What are the benefits of Environmental Certification?
A major benefit to dairy producers who complete the certification program is a 50 percent reduction in their State Water Quality Control Board fees. Depending on the size of the certified farm, savings range from $200 to $3,000 per dairy, per year.

Additional benefits include independent, no-risk verification of regulatory compliance, shared evaluator experience in addressing common regulatory compliance challenges and an attractive roadside sign advertising the farm’s proactive approach to environmental stewardship.

How does a farm achieve CDQAP Environmental Certification?
The three-step certification process is easy:

  1. Attend CDQAP educational classes on water and air quality – 6 hours of water quality instruction and 2 hours of air quality instruction (if the dairy is located in an Air District with air quality regulations for dairies).
  2. Create/organize on-farm planning and compliance documentation.
  3. Successfully complete an on-farm, third-party evaluation.

CDQAP classes are free and aim to provide “one-stop shopping” information to assist producers in environmental stewardship and compliance.

The cost of a CDQAP evaluation is $550 for up to the first 5 hours of evaluator time, and $100 per hour thereafter. Certification is valid for 5 years, with the 50 percent reduction in water quality fees applied to each year.

Is there time for a dairy producer to certify or recertify their farm before receiving their next State Water Quality Control Board fee invoice?
Yes, but not much. The entire three-step certification process must be completed by September 30, 2012. Farms certified before this date will be eligible to receive the 50 percent fee discount in the 2012-13 fiscal year. Farms certified after September 30, 2012 will begin receiving the 50 percent fee discount in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
More information about CDQAP Environmental Certification, such as requesting a copy of the evaluation checklist, checking on upcoming class offerings or your status of completed class hours and scheduling an on-farm evaluation, is available by calling (530) 574-0524.

Dairy Cares coalition members continue to support CDQAP’s efforts to assist dairy producers in understanding and complying with California’s strict environmental regulations. As a result, dairy families have raised the performance bar for protecting air and water quality all while producing sustainable, affordable and nutritious dairy products for millions of American families to enjoy.

Click here for a pdf version

Dairy Cares is a statewide coalition supporting economic and environmental sustainability and responsible animal care. Our members include the Alliance of Western Milk Producers, Bank of the West, Bar 20 Dairy Farms, California Dairies Inc., California Dairy Campaign, California Farm Bureau Federation, Conestoga – Rovers and Associates, Dairy Farmers of America-Western Area Council, Dairy Institute of California, Hilmar Cheese Co., HP Hood, Joseph Gallo Farms, Land O’Lakes, Milk Producers Council, Ruan Transport Corp., Western United Dairymen, and others. For information, visit our web site or call 916-441-3318.