The Air Resources Board is racing to meet emissions reduction deadlines set out for dairy and livestock sector. Senate Bill 1383 (2016) charged the state with reducing methane emissions to 40% below 2013 levels by 2030.

CARB is facing the now-typical delays all agencies are confronting due to the pandemic. Yet the dairy sector was already plagued by “poor economics” before COVID-19, with high production costs and low prices, according to staff scientists in a webinar on Thursday.

Incentives programs have also been oversubscribed and state funding is drying up. Cap-and-trade revenues feeding into the program were already expected to slow this year. With the economic downturn and people driving less during the pandemic, “it is quite possible that cap-and-trade revenues will be lower than assumed in the May Revision,” according to a report Thursday from the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

To make up for the shortfall, more private investment is needed, with the state matching some of those dollars. Another $85 million will be needed each year until 2028.

Also, the markets have yet to develop for the “value-added” manure products produced by the dairy digesters and alternative management projects. Meanwhile, the health impacts on animals from feed additives (think seaweed) that promise to reduce enteric emissions – or cow belches – are not well understood. And those additives will not be readily available for at least another three years.

Staff plan to release a deeper analysis on the progress to date later this summer.

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