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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

California's Dairy Quality Assurance Program

Fact Sheet September 1999

On September 9, 1999, EPA, Region 9 joined the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program partnership and announcing the award of a grant to support the program. The CDQAP is a partnership among California's federal, state agencies, academia and the dairy industry to promote quality dairy products and a healthy environment through improved farm practices. Its programs will concentrate on three areas: environmental stewardship, food safety and animal health issues. The environmental stewardship portion of CDQAP is formalized in a partnership agreement entitled: Dairy Waste Management: An Integrated Approach to Education and Compliance.

The partnership agreement includes:

Environmental Stewardship Short Course - Dairy producers who volunteer to participate must complete an educational workshop in environmental stewardship developed or approved by University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE). Workshops are already being held at various locations throughout the state and conducted by UCCE staff. The curriculum has been developed with from state, federal, academic and industry stakeholders.
Environmental Stewardship Farm Management Plan - Each participating dairy producer must complete and implement an Environmental Stewardship Farm Management Plan which will document how the producer will manage the facility to prevent surface and ground water discharges.
On-site Evaluation - The California Department of Food and Agriculture, with assistance from each partner, has developed draft policies and procedures for an on-site evaluation and has been refining the review checklist by conducting test reviews of nine dairy farms.

U.S. EPA is awarding a grant of $443,740 to fund the short course and the on site evaluations. The grant will fund 10 courses annually and perform 1000 on site evaluations over the next 3 years.

California's Dairy Industry

There are approximately 2400 dairies in California with a total of about 1.3 million cows. In 1996, California's five leading milk producing counties were: Tulare, San Bernardino, Merced, Stanislaus, and Riverside.

The average dairy farm milks 550 cows and each cow produces an annual average of 20,458 pounds of milk. California produces a greater amount of dairy products than any other state including 16% or 25.9 billion pounds of milk for the nation.

A single cow produces 22 tons of waste per year - a total of nearly 30 million tons of waste.

Health and Environmental Impacts of Dairy Waste

Fish Kills - Dairy waste discharges from lagoons to drainage ditches can lead to fish kills in waterways.

Ground Water Quality - When waste percolates directly into ground water it can add nitrates and salts and could be a source of bacterial and viral contamination of shallow domestic (often unmonitored) wells.

Drinking Water - Nitrate contamination of public water supply wells, which in many cases can be traced to dairies, is forcing public water system operators to seek alternative supplies or improved treatment methods and forcing private well owners who discover the contamination to purchase bottled water.

Illness - Bacteria and viruses such as E. Coli, salmonella and giardia found in dairy waste can contaminate drinking water and cause acute gastroenteritis and fever, kidney failure, and even death.

U.S. EPA's Dairy Waste Management Activities

U.S. EPA's participation in the Dairy Partnership is part of U.S. EPA's strategy of implementing the Clinton Administration's Clean Water Action Plan. The plan involves U.S. EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a cooperative effort to enforce clean water laws and offer compliance assistance to industry and state and local governments.

While U.S. EPA is committed to providing dairy producers with information and assistance in managing their waste, we expect dairies to comply with federal, state and local laws safeguarding water quality.

U.S. EPA has an active inspection and enforcement program, conducting more than 200 dairy inspections in 1998 and 1999.

In addition, through various grant programs, EPA is supporting innovative manure waste reduction projects that will decrease the potential for the dairy wastes to contaminate surface or ground water.

Contact Information

Michael Payne
Dairy Quality Assurance Program
(530) 752-7507

Enrique Manzanilla (manzanilla.enrique@epa.gov)
US EPA
415-972-3843


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