Every day across California, dairy families renew their commitment to sustainability with actions to protect natural resources such as air, land and water. Recently, one California dairy’s dedication to sustainability caught the eye of Governor Jerry Brown.
Joseph Gallo Farms, a 66-year-old family-owned dairy and cheese-making facility in Atwater, received the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), at a January 22 ceremony in Sacramento. Gallo was honored in the category of Sustainable Practices or Facilities.
GEELA is California’s highest and most prestigious environmental honor. The award recognizes individuals, organizations and businesses for exceptional leadership in voluntary achievements to conserve California resources, protect and enhance the environment and build public-private partnerships.
“We are honored and pleased that the Governor has recognized our commitment to sustainable practices,” said Mike Gallo, CEO of Joseph Gallo Farms. “Sustainability is something my family and I are very passionate about. This award is a testament to the amazing support we receive from our family of customers and employees, and it inspires us to continually improve.”
Joseph Gallo Farms began in 1946 as a small family farm and has now established itself as a leader in sustainable agriculture, pioneering practices that have become industry standards for dairying and cheese making. Among the farm’s cutting edge innovations is the seven-acre covered lagoon biogas digester that turns methane into power to run the cheese-making operation.
Installed in 2003, the biogas digester is capable of producing more than 100 percent of the cheese plant’s electricity needs, reducing the need for fossil fuel generated energy and thus lowering its carbon footprint. By producing 1,500 kWh of electricity through renewable, green biogas, Joseph Gallo Farms has reduced its propane usage by 70,000 gallons per month.
There are even times when the dairy’s biogas digester produces more power than the cheese plant can utilize. This enables Joseph Gallo Farms to supply the local power grid with green energy, helping neighboring businesses and homes reduce their carbon footprint.
Through its investments in renewable energy, Joseph Gallo Farms was able to create hundreds of new jobs during the recession.
“We designed our operation to maximize efficiency and sustainability, and we are proud that our practices have a positive impact on our community and the natural environment,” Gallo said.
The GEELA joins a long list of awards for Joseph Gallo Farms’ environmentally sustainable practices, including three California EPA awards for waste reduction; a U.S. EPA award for outstanding leadership in protecting the environment; and awards from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other environmental agencies for the development of agriculture conservation easements and wetlands preservation and restoration.
Joseph Gallo Farms is the most recent addition to the list of Dairy Cares coalition members to receive the GEELA award. In 2007, the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP) earned the GEELA for its outreach and education efforts. CDQAP is widely credited with helping dairy farmers understand and comply with regional air and water quality regulations.
Dairy Cares members applaud the tremendous accomplishment of Joseph Gallo Farms, and all California dairy families, for their daily work in sustainably producing affordable, nutritious, and delicious dairy products for millions of American families.
Dairy Cares is a statewide coalition supporting economic and environmental sustainability and responsible animal care. Our members include the 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, California Cattlemen’s Association and others. For information, visit our web site or call 916-441-3318.