The goal of this project is to reduce the environmental impacts of dairy farming in the West so as to promote and guarantee sustainability of the milk and cheese industry in the region. The specific objective of this proposal was to train Agricultural Professionals selected across the dairy producing regions in the West on best management practices (BMPs) available to dairy producers for the mitigation of air quality degradation. These professionals are expected to incorporate these BMPs in their regular outreach activities in their respective work stations.
In 2007, the USEPA initiated a nationwide study to determine what pollutants (ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic compounds, and particulates matter: PM10 and PM2.5) and what sizes of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) may require regulations. These studies were completed in 2009 and USEPA is currently analyzing the data in order develop tools and resources for determining which CAFOs may need to regulated according to existing statues. In the event that the regulations are put into effect, some or all facilities may be required to incorporate or install BMPs to mitigate emissions of these pollutants. In addition, several states in the West such as Idaho, California, and Arizona, have enacted air quality regulations that require dairy and livestock producers to reduce impacts either statewide or within air-sheds that are in noncompliance with the clean air act (CAA). Dairy producers, therefore, need to be aware of the available effective BMPs that they could utilize in order to comply with either the federal or state regulations. This education program is addressing these regulations and introducing BMPs for alleviating odor and gaseous emissions in order to prepare the producers in advance to deal with these issues today and/or when (and if) the regulations come into effect.
This project is a multi-State, multi-disciplinary Extension Education Project to provide a unified approach to providing this important service to the livestock industry. The proposed project is relying on the air quality research and extension expertise from specialists across the country for a continuous development of air quality education program for agricultural professionals in the West. Four hands-on educational workshops were initially planned to be conducted across the Western region, in this phase of the project, to offer an in-depth introduction to air quality issues, regulations and BMPs. In addition, it was anticipated that workshop participants will subsequently participate in a series of web-cast presentations on specific air quality issues.
The effectiveness of this educational project will be assessed using tools such as: (1) pre & post quizzes during training, (2) hit counter in the web-site, (3) number of professionals incorporating air quality information from this program into their education or outreach programs, (4) surveys of workshop participant’s intentions of incorporating air quality issues in their programs, (5) request of technical assistance of air quality BMPs by producers, and (6) assessment of reduction of air pollution complaints.
The goal of this program is to reduce the environmental impacts of dairy farms in the West. The objective of this particular project was to train Agricultural Professionals from State Cooperative Extension, NRCS, Soil & Water Conservation Districts, state regulatory agencies, and producer groups in the dairy producing regions in the West on environmentally sound practices that can be used on facilities and to promote and guarantee sustainability of the milk and cheese industry. The educational program has and will continue equipping these agricultural professionals with knowledge and skills they can use to advance best management practices (BMPs) necessary to reduce air pollution from dairies in their outreach activities. As a result of this education initiative, we expect at least 50% of dairy producers to implement recommended practices and/or technologies by the third year after the conclusion of this project.
In brief, it is projected that the benefits of this educational program will ultimately be reflected in less air pollution from the dairy industry and therefore, less costly nuisance lawsuits that continually threaten the sustainability of this industry. In general, this project is expected to result in: (1) Enhanced environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends, (2) Sustained economic viability of agricultural operations and their communities, and (3) Enhanced quality of life for farmers and ranchers and society as a whole.
Attempts have been made in the past to regulate noxious emissions from the livestock operations but the results of most of these initiatives have been dismal. However, more pressure from environmental activists and people living in the neighborhoods close to animal feeding operations (AFOs) and larger Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) have come to bear more heavily on the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to finally arbitrate on these matters. In this regard, in 2005 USEPA published a formal notice of its proposed program in the Federal Register to regulate airborne emissions of pollutants from AFOs/CAFOs pursuant to voluntary air compliance agreements in conjunction with a study of emissions from those facilities. This USEPA program will collect data and aggregate it with appropriate existing emissions data, analyze the monitoring results, and create tools that could be used to determine whether facilities emit pollutants at levels that require them to apply for permits under the federal Clean Air Act (CAA), or provide notifications under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) or the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA). In the event that the regulations are put into effect, some or all facilities may be required to incorporate or install BMPs to mitigate these airborne emissions pollutants.
Regardless of the activities of the USEPA at a national level, several states in the West such as Idaho, California, and Arizona, have enacted air quality regulations that required dairy and livestock producers to reduce impacts either statewide or within air-sheds that are in noncompliance with the CAA. The proposed extension education is tailored to address these regulations, and introduce respective BMPs for alleviating the respective emissions in order to prepare the producers in advance to deal with these issues today and/or when (and if) the regulations come into effect.
This extension education project has and will continue educating agricultural professionals on the air quality issues, regulations, and available BMPs. It is expected that the trained agricultural professional will assist dairy producers meet expectations of existing regulations, in addition to preparing them for new federal regulations that are expected within the next four years.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
This multi-State Extension Project targets Agricultural Professionals in the Western US and the Texas Panhandle with an education program on air quality issues, federal and state regulations and control practices. The agricultural professionals will transfer this information to western livestock producers and assist in implementing odor and other gaseous emissions control practices on dairies with the ultimate goal of reducing the adverse impact of animal agriculture on the region’s air quality.
This project relied on the air quality research and extension expertise from specialists across the US for initial development of the education curriculum and is still relying on this group for continuous revisions and development. Four hands-on educational workshops were initially planned for across the West to serve as an in-depth coverage of air quality issues, regulations and control practices. Subsequently, workshop participants were further expected to participate in a series of web-cast presentations on specific and emerging air quality issues. The workshop presentations, photo tours, and other educational information have been made available to the general public on the program’s website provided in a later section of this report (website development section).
Impact assessment on the effectiveness of the three workshops held in New Mexico, Idaho, and Washington was on the quality of the delivery of the workshop as well as participants reception of the materials presented. Each of the workshops was conducted by a team of eight air quality specialist who among them present a variation of all 12 lessons/topics. The attendance for all three workshops averaged 20 to 30 people. Table 1 presents the evaluation of knowledge levels of the participants before and after the workshop, while the summary of evaluations of the technical content and the respective delivery (presentations) are presented in Table 2. Evaluations presented in Table 1 indicate a gain of knowledge of from a level of between poor and fair to between good and high on the scale provided on the footnotes of Table 1. The technical contents and the presentations of the workshop contents were both rated at above average to excellent (Table 2). These evaluations also show general improvement in the delivery of the workshop materials indicating response of the presenters to the evaluation comments in earlier workshops. Additional general evaluations are presented in Table 3. The assessments from the three workshops indicate that the program successfully equipped the participants with adequate skills to assist livestock operators meet their quality objectives.
The basic curriculum for the workshops was developed during the first year of the project. The lessons were revised and modified accordingly to suite specific regional emphasis. The curriculum covered the following basic topics in addition to other site specific topics:
Lesson 1a – Dairy Air Regulations in California
Lesson 1b – Air Quality Legislation in Oregon & Washington
Lesson 2 – Measuring Livestock Odors
Lesson 3 – Odor Mitigation Strategies (BMPS)
Lesson 4 – Ammonia Measurements Techniques
Lesson 5 – Ammonia Mitigation Strategies (BMPs)
Lesson 6 – VOCs Measurement Techniques
Lesson 7 – VOCs Mitigation Strategies (BMPs)
Lesson 8 – H2S Measurements and BMPs
Lesson 9 – Particulates Measurements Techniques
Lesson 10 – Particulates Mitigation Strategies (BMPs)
Lesson 11 – Dietary Changes for Air Quality
Lesson 12 – Greenhouse Gasses and Carbon Credits
The fully developed lessons are currently accessible to the general public at the program’s website on the tab named ‘resource’ at the following address: http://www.bsyse.wsu.edu/ndegwa/main/WOAQ/WOAQhome.html
Four workshops were initially proposed in each of the following sites to cover all the participating Western US States:
1. Davis, California: Southern and Central CA, Nevada
2. Western Washington: Oregon, Northern CA
3. Boise, Idaho: Southern and Central ID,Eastern WA, Utah
4. Albuquerque, New Mexico: NM, Colorado, Arizona, Weste Texas
However, owing to scheduling and other conflicting training program, we held only three of the four workshops initially planned. The first one was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the October 2008; the second one was held in Twin Falls, Idaho, in May 2009; and the third one was held in Leavenworth, Washington, in June 2009. The fourth workshop that was planned for California in spring, 2010 did not take place because of scheduling problems and other conflicting training programs that were ongoing in California during this period.
A project website has been developed as a resource for project participants and the general public (see: http://www.bsyse.wsu.edu/ndegwa/main/WOAQ/WOAQhome.html). This website serves as the principle resource for the program and contains an active archive of workshop presentations, best management practices, extension bulletins and fact sheets, and provides a comprehensive list of links to other relevant web resources. This past year we revitalized the website with additions of photographs taken during the workshops and farm tours (see the new program’s homepage link provided above) and provided a photo gallery with other pictures taken during the workshops and farm tours (see: http://www.bsyse.wsu.edu/ndegwa/main/WOAQ/WOAQphotogallery.html). We also researched the internet for useful and authentic relevant Federal, State, Local, Universities, and Individual web resources and provided these to our audiences for further references. The link for these other resources is the following: http://www.bsyse.wsu.edu/ndegwa/main/WOAQ/resources/links.html. Finally, for the benefits of other regions or states that may be considering replicating similar programs, we have provided all the details of our workshops including suggested scheduling, suggested flyers, and suggested evaluation tools on our website. The link for these tools is the following: http://www.bsyse.wsu.edu/ndegwa/main/WOAQ/WOAQwrkshops.html.
Besides refurbishing the programs website, this past year we also developed other education materials to help livestock producers develop “air quality management plans” in their facilities. One document provides simplified descriptions of best management practices which are proven and available for use by producers or consultants to mitigate emissions from their facilities. The other document provides a matrix for step-by-step selection of best management practices for individual farm situations. These two documents are currently undergoing review and will be provided as another resource on the programs’ website. The current versions of these two documents are included in this report. These BMPs were initially planned to be conveyed via video streams. The consultant who was recruited to develop professional videos of the BMPs did not come through and a decision was finally made to cancel the contract. We plan to work on the BMPs video streams in the future.
We plan to continue sustaining this program through our mandated outreach and extension engagements as well as secure extramural funding to grow the program. In particular, we have earmarked the following activities and agenda for implementation in the short and long terms.
1. Conduct assessments of the program’s impact on the ground.
2. Development of BMP video streams.
3. Complete review of BMPs and the selection of BMPs for ‘air quality management plans’ document and launch them on the program’s website.
4. Use these resources to conduct workshops to train consultants, other agricultural professionals, and extension agents to develop and assist in development of ‘air quality management plans’ on livestock operations.
5. Organize webcasts on the BMPs and other upcoming and relevant aspects of air quality issues.