Dairy producers get heads-up on new air, water regulations

By DairyBusiness Staff

TULARE, Calif. – Dairy producers are all hounded by the reality of doing business under the watchful eyes of regulators. Whether it is someone holding you accountable for air quality or water quality, it has become harder and harder to jump through all the regulatory hoops.

During Dairy Profit Seminars at World Ag Expo recently, Paul Martin, director of environmental services, Western United Dairymen, and Cynthia Cory, director of environmental affairs, California Farm Bureau Federation, gave producers an update on the things they need to watch for in the months to come.

Martin called for the audience to give dairy producers a “well deserved round of applause” for the job they have done so far in addressing water issues on their dairies. “Producers have dealt with three years of a new regulatory program that has been very detailed, very costly and very time consuming, and they have stepped up to the plate,” Martin declared.

Their compliance rate has been impressive and the water board has a new-found respect for dairymens’ performance, he said.

“We still have more to do,” Martin admitted. “The order calls for all dairies at the rate of 100 to 200 a year to install monitoring well systems to test the water that is first encountered under their property. It’s controversial and expensive and could be as much as 50% of the total compliance costs with the WDR.”

According to Martin, the water board recognizes the huge expense that meeting the regulations costs producers. Both scientists and dairy groups presented to the water board that they were concerned about the usefulness of this monitoring well approach. Although the program continues to move forward, the board authorized pursuing “alternative monitoring proposals.”

In the meantime, to date, 50 dairies have been ordered to install monitoring wells. Orders were given to these first 50 dairies because they had not done their nutrient management plans that were due at the end of last year.

Martin said their proposal calls for monitoring relatively few dairies located in clusters. The water board has indicated an interest because they don’t have the manpower to monitor every dairy.

“And why are we making the proposal? One simple reason: save producers time, money and paperwork,” Martin said. “We expect the existing program will cost each dairy between $36,000 and $55,000 over the next 14 years. This hits the smaller dairies hardest because each dairy will have to install a four or five well monitoring network, no matter what the size of the operation. Total cost over the life of the program is $64 million. Our alternative proposal would only cost $5 million, total.”

Martin explained that under the alternative proposal, the framework for participation must be voluntary for producers to choose to join the program or continue on the individual monitoring path. Administration of the program must be independent of milk processors and trade associations, and has to be run by producers themselves.

Whatever results is found in individual cluster-testing would be used to formulate the regulation of similar areas. The clusters would be located in a variety of areas that represent different soil types and conditions.

Martin envisions that the organizational structure of the alternative proposal would be a non-profit that regularly interacts and reports to the water board; develop an approved budget; and set fees to fund the monitoring system. He indicated that they would create a steering committee in the region to put the program together.

Martin said they have obtained legal representation to help develop the template for the program, complete with options on tax exempt status to determine the best structure.

“A lot of questions remain,” he declared. “Should there be a deadline for opting in or out of the program? How do they address the fee questions, late sign up penalties and billing systems?”

There are also governance, administration and technical questions to answer.

“We are working hard through the CARES coalition,” said Martin. “That involves most everyone in the dairy industry: Farm Bureau, processors, dairy associations and businesses that service the dairy industry.”

The ultimate decision by individual dairy producers whether to get involved or not is strictly voluntary, however.

New air regulations reviewed

Cynthia Cory discussed the changes coming for diesel truck regulations under the jurisdiction of the Air Resource Board.

She has been working with a number of other agricultural associations on this issue for the past 18 months, most recently trying to get the word out to the agricultural community about the upcoming compliance deadline.

In the 1990s, diesel particulate matter (PM) was identified as a toxic air contaminant and the State Air Board has been trying ever since to figure out how to protect the people from diesel particulate matter. A series of rules indicated they were going to replace all the diesels in the state, but the energy crisis put things on hold. Now they are back at it.

“Regulators went after, what I call the low-hanging fruit,” Cory said. Original plan rules were back on the table, covering garbage trucks, urban trucks and school buses. They singled out off-road vehicles (construction equipment). It was the first time Cory saw regulators look at the regular consumer businessman trying to make a living and told them they had to replace their equipment.

“I knew agriculture was not going to escape the burden of the diesel air rules. First our trucks and then our tractors,” Cory said, and that’s exactly what is happening.

The bottom line is eventually everyone driving a truck over 14,000 GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) in the state will be required to have a 2010 engine. “The air coming out of the tail pipe must be cleaner than the air going in,” she said. “This is the first rule that requires trucks coming into the sate must meet the same regulations. Visitors can have a three-day pass, once a year.

If you drive your diesel truck less 1,000 miles a year, or less than 100 hours, you can get out of the rule. That won’t work for many. You have to have an odometer and hour meter on it so you can’t use as PTO just sitting stationary and running.

Diesel pickups under 19,500 GVWR with the original diesel bed are out of the rule.

Agricultural vehicles are considered to be those used exclusively to deliver fertilizer and pesticides; one owned by a farming business and used exclusively in the “agricultural operation;” in field use trucks for silage or manure; those used exclusively to haul products from farm to “first point of processing;” and specialty vehicles.

She said “specialty ag vehicles” are exempt until Jan. 1, 2023 with unlimited mileage. She defined these vehicles as cotton module movers, water trucks used to control dust or irrigate crops, feed trucks at calf and cattle feedlots (not dairies), nursery rigs used to refuel, repair, or refill helicopters or planes.

There will only be 1,100 of these specialty vehicles allowed in the San Joaquin Valley, and total in the state cannot exceed 2,200.

Engine requirements

Low-mileage ag vehicles (10,000 miles or less a year) are exempt until 2023, and you do not have to replace engine with 2010 engine until 2023.

Limited-mileage ag vehicles are exempt until 2017. Vehicles that fall in this category have mileage limits depending on the engine model year.

• 1995 and older – 15,000 miles a year.

• 1996-2005 –20,000 miles a year.

• 2006 – 25,000 miles a year.

• 2007 and newer – no mileage limit.

She reminded the audience that Mar. 31, 2010 was the deadline to report all vehicles and ag vehicles in the fleet as of Jan. 1, 2009. And she said by April 30, 2010, you have to have “AG” stickers on all your ag vehicles.

Three compliance options

She outlined three compliance options:

Option 1 – Best available control technology (BACT) schedule. 1) Specifies dates of compliance based on engine model year, 2) Most straightforward, and 3) No reporting required.

Option 2 – Percentage limit option. 1) Specifies dates that percentages of vehicles must meet PM and NOx BACT, and 2) Requires annual reporting.

Option 3 – Fleet (1 truck or more) average option. 1) Specifies dates that fleets must meet a declining fleet average target, and 2) Provides most flexibility.

Small fleet provisions

She also outlined “optional small fleet provisions” involving three vehicles or less. No action is required until the first deadline, Jan. 1, 2014.

• By Jan. 1, 2014, one vehicle must at least have a 2004 model year engine with a diesel particulate filter, which will be exempt until 2019.

• Remaining trucks must meet PM (Particulate Matter) and NOx (nitrogen oxide) BACT (best available control technology).

Special provisions for NOx exempt area vehicles:

• Truck tractors and vehicles with GVWR over 33,000 lbs. operated less than 7,500 miles (hours limitation applies for yard goats and vehicles using PTO to perform work while stationary).

• Smaller vehicles operated less than 5,000 miles (same hourly limitations apply).

• Must meet PM BACT, but exempt from NOx BACT until Jan. 1, 2021.

• Subject to reporting requirements.

• Any vehicle operated exclusively in attainment areas (following counties: Alpine, Colusa, Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Monterey, Plumas, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Trinity, Tehama, and Yuba).

• No mileage limits.

• GPS tracking or other method.

• Reporting required.

Incentives for agriculture

There are incentive programs for ag.

• Voucher Incentive Program: Must be a small fleet (3 vehicles or less); Approximately $20,000 – $35,000 per truck; Can be combined with loan guarantee.

• Proposition 1B (funding on hold): Replacement funds available for 2003 and older trucks; Available for large and small fleets; Grants competitive: cost-effectiveness and reductions; Loan guarantee program for small fleets in development.

• Loan Assistance Program: Fleet must have 20 or fewer trucks; Qualify as a small business (100 or fewer employees, less than $10,000 in revenue); Loans for used trucks, new trucks, or exhaust retrofits.

• Lower Emission School Bus Program: About $200 million for replacements and retrofits; Additional local and state fund.

Important contacts

For more specific information, contact:

• Tony Brasil, Chief, In-Use Control Measures Section, by e-mail at abrasil@arb.ca.gov or call 916-323-2927.

• Ron Nunes, e-mail at rnunes@arb.ca.gov or call, 916-327-0376.

• Diesel Hot Line – 866-634-3735.

• Websites: www.arb.ca.gov/dieseltruck or www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/truckstop/truckstop.htm

For the complete panel discussion via podcast, please visit www.DairyLine.com and click on “Dairy Profit Seminars.” Then click on “WDB Seminar #1: Air & Water.”