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Report raises doubts on California dairy digester costs


The financial sustainability of California's initiative to lower methane emissions from dairy farms through anaerobic digesters has been challenged in a report by the Center for Food Safety. Conducted by Kevin Fingerman of Cal Poly Humboldt, the analysis reveals that the Dairy Digester Research and Development Program's costs could be 17 times the state and industry's estimates. 

California has allocated approximately $200 million towards this endeavor between 2015 and 2022, aiming for a substantial decrease in methane emissions. However, the report suggests a discrepancy in cost-effectiveness, with actual expenses ballooning to $159 per ton of CO2 reduced, far exceeding the state's $9 per ton estimate. 

This revelation stirs debate about the allocation of taxpayer money, especially as the program appears to predominantly benefit large agribusinesses and investors.  

Despite criticisms, the California Department of Food and Agriculture counters by highlighting the ecological benefits of dairy digesters, such as their role in generating renewable energy and preventing worse environmental outcomes. 

The state contends that supporting sustainable practices across dairy farms is crucial, even as it faces scrutiny over the program's cost and its impact on agricultural practices and the environment.

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