Climate-Smart Cows: California Boosts Efforts to Reduce Methane with $25 Million Investment

California’s dairy sector is on a path to achieving climate neutrality by as early as 2027. Progress has been made through decades of advancing production efficiency and the unprecedented, ongoing investments in improved manure management. Researchers anticipate that the adoption of methane-reducing feed additives will soon be an added boost on this journey to climate neutrality. The state is advancing efforts with $10 million in research funding and $25 million to create a new, early adopter program to incentivize reductions of enteric methane emissions in the dairy and beef cattle sectors.

The new program will add momentum to multi-stakeholder efforts to turn cows into climate solutions. About 30 percent of California’s total annual methane emissions come from beef and dairy cattle enteric releases (i.e., belching or enteric methane). Extensive university research demonstrates that promising feed additives are being developed to significantly reduce these emissions when included in feed rations. Seaweed, fatty acids, oregano, essential oils, and tannins are just a few of the materials being explored.

It is estimated that these feed supplements, when commercially available, could reduce dairy and beef cattle emissions by 30 percent or more. Given methane’s short-lived nature, its reduction goes a long way in quickly reducing atmospheric warming. In California, stakeholders are addressing barriers and preparing to make climate-smart cows a reality.

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