As 'Barn to Biogas' momentum builds, $14 million in California state funding reaches Land O'Lakes members

Learn how innovation from Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN is helping members balance economic, environmental considerations

A Manure Processing Plant On A California Farm

Late last month, the State of California announced a key round of funding to support dairy methane reduction in the state. This is one part of the state’s work to help farmers meet new standards requiring a 40 percent reduction in manure-related greenhouse gas emission on dairy farms by 2030.
Notably, Land O’Lakes dairy farmer-members in California received $14 million in awards. It’s the latest momentum boost for our ‘Barn-to-Biogas’ effort, launched last year by Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN.
Matt Carstens, senior vice president of Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN, says his team didn’t just see a new regulation to meet in California; they recognized a potential opportunity for Land O’Lakes to support farmers’ environmental leadership, and possibly unlock new economic opportunity.
“One of the core elements of our work is helping Land O’Lakes members care for the air, land and water in a way that also keeps the economic health of their farm in focus,” says Carstens. “Helping farmers meet California’s new state emissions standard has been an outstanding example of how this works in practice.”
Alongside the Member Relations and Government Relations teams, Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN developed a concept approach to ‘barn-to-biogas’ in California. With the help of technical experts, Land O’Lakes would help California farmer-members install on-farm digesters to create Renewable Compressed Natural Gas (R-CNG), a renewable vehicle fuel. This would aim to help them proactively meet the methane reduction standards in state law, while also potentially unlocking a new revenue stream.
“We know that our dairy farmers in California are leaders and world-class innovators, so we had an opportunity to be proactive with the state standard and turn it into an opportunity,” says Tina May, senior director of Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN. “The idea was to link our farmers with experts who could help them install and manage the digesters, support them through programs like SUSTAIN Innovation Financing, and put them in position to meet this new standard.”
In June 2018 Land O’Lakes announced the first major step in the effort: A new collaboration with California Bioenergy to help farmers install and operate California digesters.
Since then, we have seen a steady stream of activity:

  • Last December, the State of California awarded more than $90 million in funding to help construct interconnection pipeline to transport biogas from the farm to conversion facilities.

  • In June 2019, Chevron announced it would help bring the fuel to market in California.

  • With September’s announcement from the CDFA, the new round of $14 million in state funding for digester installation assistance will directly benefit Land O’Lakes members in California.

“What we’re seeing take hold in California shows the power of partnership between farmers and leaders spanning the public and private sectors to make a difference,” says Carstens. “And for all of us at Land O’Lakes, it shows how thinking outside the box and deploying new innovation can directly benefit our members.”