CDFA Secretary Ross is optimistic the Biden administration will add incentive funding for dairy methane reduction programs. She based this on preliminary statements from President Joe Biden and USDA nominee Tom Vilsack, her former boss.

During a Senate budget subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, Ross was asked why the Newsom administration is no longer funding Brown-era programs for dairy digesters and alternative manure management.

“We are at a point of maturation in these programs that hard decisions have to be made with the scarce dollars that we have,” she explained.

Senator Mike McGuire of Healdsburg contended that the proposed low-interest loan program to replace the incentives would not help dairy farmers getting by on just 300 head of cattle and already struggling with loans. McGuire said ending incentives broke a commitment to them.

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“I'm really challenged to be able to understand why—especially when we know the program was oversubscribed—we're not continuing to invest, as was originally promised,” he said.

Others argued the loan program would pit farmers against many other stakeholders, all competing for a pot of just $50 million.