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Sustainable Farms Need to Come Together, Not Cast Blame Over California Methane Program
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By CalMatters
Published 5 days ago on
May 12, 2024

Many California farmers have embraced sustainability and strive to curb their climate impact. Instead of casting blame over controversial programs, a Merced farmer says industry peers should be working together. (CalMatters/Larry Valenzuela)

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Re: “How California’s prized solution for methane gas is backfiring on farmers

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Simon Vander Woude

Special to CalMatters

Opinion

I am a family farmer just like the author of a recent commentary critical of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, or LCFS. The difference is that my farm actively participates in the methane reduction program enlisted by the state Air Resources Board, through the production of renewable natural gas used to fuel trucks on California’s roads.

For our family farm, “sustainability” means doing more with less. Our dairy is the host of a hub-and-spoke model of methane digesters in Merced County, and all the dairies that send their gas to this hub are family farms. My wife, children and I are laser-focused on efficient operations, producing milk with less impact to our climate.

Investing our own funds, we’ve embraced clean technologies, from solar energy to state-assisted replacement of diesel engines, and a self-financed methane digester that provides non-fossil fuels for large vehicles. We do not look to the state to buy our offsets. Instead, all the renewable gas from our operations is sold to private fleets incentivized to lower their carbon footprints within the state through programs like the LCFS.

We are doing the right thing and making strides to lower emissions for each pound of milk or pound of beef produced – so please don’t characterize family farms like mine as large corporate polluters.

That said, if we make this a big farm vs. small farm discussion, we are only wasting time pointing fingers. We should be joining hands to work together as a farming community around the globe.

About the Author

Simon Vander Woude is a third generation dairyman in Merced. He owns and operates Vander Woude Dairies with his wife and six children.

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GV Wire encourages vigorous debate from people and organizations on local, state, and national issues. Submit your op-ed to bmcewen@gvwire.com for consideration.

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