Cow manure is worth more than its milk in California, and it’s already an environmental problem: an anti-pollution law is to blame
California ranchers are starting to make more money selling their cow manure than milk, as reported by local outlet The Fresno Bee. It appears that cattle droppings have risen in value in recent years after several energy companies use it to get biogas from the methane they give off and, above all, to an aid plan from the State of California known as the Cap-and-Trade Program, which financially encourages the use of clean energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The aforementioned program, which has been in place since 2011, and other state aid to protect the environment have attracted energy companies interested in obtaining biogas from manure to California, since they have turned it into a very profitable business thanks to subsidies. At first, these companies bought the excrement and processed it, but in recent years farmers have discovered that if they build the facilities to treat it themselves, they can multiply their profits by six.
In fact, The Fresno Bee points out that by selling manure to energy companies a farmer can get around $ 100 a year per cow, while If he processes the manure for biogas himself, he can earn $ 600 a year per beef.
An environmental problem
Both energy companies and now farms use anaerobic digestion to obtain methane, carbon dioxide and other biogases. For this process it is necessary to have large manure “ponds”, which are covered with a tarp so that, in the decomposition process, the gases emanate that are channeled to the deposits where they are stored.
The problem is that these anaerobic digestion systems harm both air and water quality, and the increase in the number and concentration of livestock as a consequence of the increasing benefits that they give to the ranchers deteriorates the ecosystem.
Consequently, contamination is increasing in the areas where these farms are located, especially in the San Joaquin Valley area, and the regulation created to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, paradoxically, is helping to harm the environment.