The Fresno Bee reports California dairies have an opportunity to make additional income by decreasing the amount of methane their farm produces, but equipment costs prevent many dairies from cashing in.

California’s new cap-and-trade program has set a goal of dropping greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the end of the decade. In the program, refineries, power plants and other businesses can only produce a determined amount of greenhouse gas. If they exceed that level they must buy an allowance from other companies who are below the cap.

Dairies are exempt from the cap, but have the opportunity to reduce emissions and sell credits to other companies. One way to do so is by purchasing a methane digester, a piece of equipment which comes with an $8 million price tag..

Michael Marsh, chief executive officer of Western United Dairymen says the payoff isn’t enough for most dairies in the state to participate. He estimates less than 20 dairies out of 1,600 in the state have a system to capture methane.

The program isn’t currently advantageous to dairy farmers, but industry officials say a guaranteed rate offered by utility companies would help dairy owners calculate the opportunity.

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Source: The Fresno Bee