About the CDQAP

Who We Are

The California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP) is a voluntary partnership between the dairy industry, state and federal agencies, academia and others to promote the health of consumers, the health of the environment and the health and welfare of dairy animals.

The program assists dairy producers in continual improvement and management of critical resources.  The environmental stewardship module supports producers in understanding and complying with the rules and regulations governing the industry, some of the toughest in the nation.

Focusing on the components of public health (farm security and food safety), animal health and welfare, and environmental stewardship, the CDQAP provides science-based education workshops and assistance for California dairy producers. The CDQAP also provides third-party certification in Environmental Stewardship through its on-farm evaluation/certification program.

CDQAP Partners include:

California Dairy Campaign, California Dairy Research Foundation, California Department of Fish and Game, California Department of Food and Agriculture, California Environmental Protection Agency, California Farm Bureau Federation, California Manufacturing Milk Advisory Board, California Resources Agency, Milk Producers Council, Natural Resources Conservation Service, State Water Resources Control Board, Sustainable Conservation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, University of California/UC Cooperative Extension and Western United Dairymen.

History & Milestones

Environmental Stewardship
In the wake of severe dairy farm flooding in 1998, the CDQAP steering committee directed that the environmental stewardship module receive the highest attention. In this module, producers attend a short course at the University of California at Davis (UCD), develop a pollution prevention plan, and have their facilities certified as meeting all regulations by a third-party evaluator. The following progress has been made in meeting those goals.

The California Dairy Quality Assurance (CDQA) program’s success is tied to its support from all parties – dairyman, academia and governmental agencies. Since its inception in 1997, the program has made significant progress in providing dairymen with the tools they need to proactively address dairy confidence concerns and navigate the many rules and regulations that govern the industry.

To date, more than 1,800 producers have completed the six-hour environmental stewardship water course. Additionally, more than 3,800 producers have attended one or more of CDQAP hosted water or air quality courses.  More than 700 dairies have been certified by completing a third-party facility evaluation. Certified facilities are able to display the “Environmentally Certified” CDQAP roadside sign.

CDQAP involvement is paying off for producers in many ways. Attending education workshops provides producers with convenient, one-stop shopping to learn about regulations impacting their facilities, best management practice options and permit application completion. CDQAP certification provides reductions in permit fees — depending on facility size, fee reductions range from $250 – $2,300 per year.

Air quality, a major concern for dairymen and consumers, is also being addressed. The CDQAP delivered a new air quality curriculum to more than 800 producers in workshops throughout the state. The program leveraged university, state, federal and processor resources to do so, including a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Processors are heavily invested in the CDQAP program – especially through Dairy Cares. Made up of propriety creamery, cooperative and service organization leadership, Dairy Cares assists CDQAP efforts.

On November 20, 2007 the CDQAP became one of a select group of organizations or projects to receive California’s highest and most prestigious environmental honor, the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA). The CDQAP received the award in the category for “Environmental and Economic Partnerships,” having demonstrated exceptional leadership in building public-private collaborations helping conserve California’s resources and protecting and enhancing the environment.

Animal Health & Welfare
Consumers are increasingly expressing interest in the conditions under which livestock and poultry are raised and treated. In response to the southern California meat packing incident involving abuse of non-ambulatory cattle, CDQAP took a number of immediate actions. Relevant “how-to” and research references were collected at a single CDQAP webpage. In addition CDQAP partnered with the School of Veterinary Medicine and UC Cooperative Extension delivering workshops in 2008 and 2009 detailing the causes, prevention and care of non-ambulatory cattle. The workshop included a demonstration of humane movement of “downer” cows and training in the safe use of captive bolt devices for euthanasia. CDQAP’s most recent animal care program activity is the development and delivery of an extensive educational module to support California’s dairy producers in implementing the National Dairy FARM program. Support efforts included the delivery of a “grass-roots” style education workshop series as well as an employee training DVD.

Farm Security & Food Safety
Biosecurity and the safety of our food supply are important to the continued survival of the dairy industry. By leveraging more than $332,000 in government and philanthropic foundation grants, the CDQAP has developed a Food Safety/Emergency Preparedness Module. The Module includes videos on BSE Prevention, Biosecurity and Emergency Response. A collaboration between the CDFA, USDA and UC Davis, the program’s producer evaluations of the curriculum were so strong that they were published in the Journal of Dairy Science.

Another issue intimately involved with disease control and animal health is proper mortality disposal. WIFSS collaboration and funding from CDFA totaling $148,000 has greatly advanced work in mortality disposal alternatives. The Emergency Animal Disposal Workgroup (EADW) work-products include a database of landfills taking livestock, collaboration with rendering plants and composting research. Initial research has demonstrated up to a one million-fold reduction in pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli in cow carcasses composted with separated manure solids. We are leveraging this CDFA funding with other industry grants to examine air emission from composted carcasses, information which will be critical in allowing producers to obtain air permits for mortality composting.

Commonly Asked Questions About CDQAP

What is the CDQAP?
The CDQAP is a voluntary program that provides educational workshops and other assistance in Farm Security and Food Safety, Animal Health and Welfare, and Environmental Stewardship. In addition, the program allows producers to become certified in Environmental Stewardship through its voluntary on-farm, third-party evaluation program.

Who runs the CDQAP?
The program is a collaborative effort by the dairy industry, the University of California, and others. A committee that includes dairy industry representatives must approve all program activities. The program is funded by CDRF.

Relative to the Environmental Stewardship program who is eligible to become certified?
Any dairy producer in California can become certified, regardless of marketing or trade association affiliation. This program is offered statewide.

Why should I certify in environmental stewardship?
Certification reassures your neighbors, any passers-by, and you that the facility meets all federal, state and local environmental regulations. For dairies subject to Water Quality Control Board Permits and Fees, certification reduces fee charges by 50%. A fee schedule explaining the type of saving that can be realized by certifying can be found here.

How much will Environmental Certification cost me?
Currently, the fee for a typical evaluation is $550 for up to five hours. If the evaluation takes longer than five hours, or the evaluator must return to the facility for a second site visit, additional hours will be billed at an hourly rate of $100. Certification lasts for five years. At this time, certified dairies receive a 50% discount on their annual permit fees, which can amount to a substantial savings over the five-year period of certification.

What do I need to do to be certified in Environmental Stewardship (ES)?
An individual involved in the day-to-day management of the facility must attend six hours of educational classes related to water quality and two hours related to air quality through the CDQAP, develop environmental stewardship farm management plans, and successfully complete an on-site evaluation by a non-regulatory third party.

Who will do the third-party evaluations?
Currently, the designated third-party evaluator is an independent contractor with the California Dairy Research Foundation. He has recently retired after several decades in the milk inspection unit of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. In addition, he led the CDQAP evaluation/certification program through CDFA for over 10 years and was a dairy owner/operator in his early years.

Can my dairy field representative or consultant certify my facility?
No. Your field representative can, however, be very helpful in helping you prepare for your on-site evaluation. A third-party evaluator must not have a vested interest in the outcome of the evaluation.

Will the evaluation results or my information be shared with anyone else?
No. The evaluation checklist and records examined during the evaluation will not be removed from the dairy and will remain the property of the dairy producer. The CDQAP will not release any information about your facility without obtaining your specific permission to do so.

Will participating in the CDQAP keep me from being inspected by regulatory agencies (Air District, Regional Board, EPA)?
No. These agencies have worked closely with CDQAP personnel in designing the program and developing the checklist used during the evaluation, but they do not influence the outcome of your evaluation and CDQAP has no influence over the activities of the agencies.

What happens if, during the on site evaluation, deficiencies are identified?
Nothing. You and the evaluator will work together to determine what actions need to be taken and arrange a date for re-evaluation once the appropriate deficiencies have been corrected. You may choose to discontinue the certification process at any time.

How does certification help the California dairy industry?
Participation in this program may reduce or eliminate the need for additional government regulations. It will give trade associations and the California Milk Advisory Board a positive story to tell and provide evidence that California dairy producers are working to protect the environment. Voluntary participation will result in improved compliance with regulations, which will prevent situations that result in fines to your facility. Additionally, some processors may choose to use this program as a marketing tool to their customers.

How much is this program worth to me?
Knowing that your facility is in compliance with all environmental regulations is invaluable. You may also save 50% of your annual fees at the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Are there other financial benefits?
In addition to the potential reduced regulatory costs and marketing benefits mentioned previously, the training and on-site evaluation may identify improvements that could reduce dairy management costs, minimize disease, and increase production for your facility.

Will Participating in the CDQAP eliminate inspections by the EPA?
No. The USEPA can still inspect your dairy. EPA and the state often conduct joint inspections of facilities. The CDQAP evaluation is your best management tool to prepare for these regulatory inspections.

For further information about the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program, contact your UCCE Dairy Advisor or trade association representative.