PROJECT LEADS: Dr. Michael Payne, WIFSS, UC Davis; Dr. Deanne Meyer, UC ANR, UC Davis; Denise Mullinax, CDRF, CDQAP, 2021


• California dairy facilities certified through California Dairy Quality Assurance Program’s (CDQAP) Environmental Stewardship program were eligible for a 50% reduction in state water board fees, totaling over $2.5 million in savings annually.

• In addition to offering in-person workshops, CDQAP continues to augment and refine online resources such as websites and webinars to make it easier for producers and allied industry to access training and critical information. Online resources cover topics such as environmental regulatory requirements, COVID-19 dairy employer safety, drought resources, and prevention of animal contact injuries. 

• The UCD-CDQAP partnership received the Western Extension Directors Association (WEDA) Award of Excellence for successful outreach programs.


The California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP) is a collaborative and voluntary partnership between the dairy industry, academia, government and other stakeholders to promote the health of consumers, health of the environment, and the health and welfare of dairy animals in the state of California. 

Established in 1999, CDQAP provides educational workshops, webinars, informational materials, and assistance to California dairy producers focusing on the components of public health, animal care, and environmental stewardship. 

The CDQAP education and third-party certification programs continue to be the most efficient and cost-effective method for dairy producers to remain current on environmental stewardship, animal care, and farm security topics. The program continued to provide a 50% reduction in state water board fees for producers who successfully completed third-party evaluation. There are more than 760 dairies currently certified for a cumulative savings of over $2.5 million annually. 

In 2021, the adaptability of CDQAP was evidenced by the continuation of these certification services under state and county COVID public health restrictions. Program evaluators continued new procedures adapted in 2020, including remote paperwork review and socially distanced in-person farm evaluations. 

Much of the program’s outreach efforts in 2021 focused on the North Coast because of regulatory deadlines impacting this region. Working with their regulatory partners, CDQAP streamlined the Riparian Management Plan and developed three additional CDQAP record-keeping documents. These tools were presented in April at workshops in Eureka and Santa Rosa. 

CDQAP prioritized staying current with regulatory developments that will soon affect producers in the Central Valley, including the Central Valley Salinity Alternatives for Long-term Sustainability (CV-SALTS), the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), and the revised Central Valley Dairy General Order. 

It also remained engaged with the Central Valley Dairy Regional Monitoring Program (CVDRMP), and collaborated with CDRF and CDFA on the AMMP outreach project. 

CDQAP staff time was also invested in auditing facilities of a national buyer for one of the state’s largest cooperatives. CDQAP employed a unique checklist for this audit that included questions about environmental stewardship, animal care, labor management, and longevity. This partnership exemplifies a new and expanding role of CDQAP support for the California dairy industry and producers.

With 85% of California in severe drought, CDQAP coordinated with partner organizations to provide producer-accessible information such as University drought-cropping resources, emergency relief, and implementation of the state’s new groundwater regulations arising from SGMA. CDQAP also developed tools helping producers and processors attain an Enhanced Biosecurity Plan (which will be required for milk to ship during a Foot and Mouth outbreak). 

CDQAP invested significant manpower to engage regulatory agencies at public meetings and stakeholder workgroups in anticipation of new regulations set to be implemented in the coming years. CDQAP continued to improve online resources such as websites and webinars to make training and critical information accessible to producers. 

In recognition of CDQAP’s outreach success in 2021, the UCD-CDQAP partnership received the Western Extension Directors Association Award of Excellence, demonstrating the value of the program to outside agencies and organizations.