The California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP) is once again offering free classes in air quality, one of the components needed for environmental stewardship certification.

Frank Mitloehner of the University of California, Davis, will teach the classes, which cover air quality-related environmental issues, regulatory requirements and management practices for dairy producers.

Producers wishing to pursue certification in the Environmental Stewardship Program must complete two hours of air quality (if operating in an air basin with air quality regulations for dairies) and six hours of water quality education prior to the third-party evaluation. This spring, the classes will be offered at two locations, Modesto, Calif., and Tulare, Calif.

Why attend the classes?

An important benefit is the information provided directly to you, the dairy owner/operator. The classes provide practical, clear, and timely information relating to environmental regulations. Those attending will have a better understanding of their regulatory requirements and how to comply, thereby reducing the risk of facing unnecessary enforcement actions, fines and other penalties. Classroom education is also the first step toward environmental certification of your dairy.

Benefits of certification include discounts on some regulatory fees, eligibility for certain types of grants, and potentially meeting business requirements. The certification process offers a comprehensive review by a third party of all environmental regulatory requirements and compliance activities for California dairy producers.

What is required to achieve environmental certification?

Certification is an easy, three-step process to verify compliance with existing regulations:

  1. Complete education classes [2 hours air quality (if located in an air basin with dairy air regulations) and 6 hours of water quality].
  2. Create/organize on-farm planning and compliance documentation.
  3. Complete an on-farm, third-party evaluation.

Are the classes required by law?

No. Classes are voluntary and certification through CDQAP is voluntary. However, if you want to achieve environmental certification, you must attend the classes.

Do I need to register or reserve in advance of the classes?

Classes are offered on a first-come, first-served basis and advance registration is not required. Classes are free.

What if I’ve already attended some of the classes in the past?

To qualify for an evaluation, you need only attend the required number of class hours. If you aren’t sure how many hours you still need, call (530) 574-0524.

What are the benefits of Environmental Certification?

There are several benefits to certification – the State Water Resources Control Board offers a 50 percent reduction on annual water quality permit fees to certified dairies. Depending on the size of your dairy, this can result in savings between $210 and $2,800 per year.

In addition, certified dairies are presented with an attractive roadside sign that proclaims the dairy is “Environmentally Certified.”

As always, the ultimate benefit is peace of mind for the dairy producer, who will know that he or she has taken concrete steps to verify that the dairy is in compliance with all environmental regulations and therefore is at a greatly reduced risk of facing enforcement action by environmental agencies.

Producers with additional questions can call the CDQAP toll-free, (866) 662-3727.

Workshop schedule

Tuesday, March 16, 10 a.m. – 12 noon, Stanislaus County Agricultural Center, Stanislaus Building, “HI” Room, 3800 Cornucopia Way, Modesto, CA

Thursday, March 18

10 a.m. – 12 noon, Tulare County Agricultural Center, 4437 Laspina Street, Tulare, CA

Source: California Dairy Quality Assurance Program