By Paul Sousa, Director of Regulatory and Environmental Affairs
It is time to get ready for the release of the Request for Grant Applications (RGA) for the Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP), Dairy Digester Research and Development Program (DDRDP), and the new Dairy Plus Program. Applications are expected to be released in June with an August due date; however, these dates are subject to change. Dairies are familiar with AMMP and DDRDP, but a new program is on the list, the Dairy Plus Program. I will focus on that here. This program is the result of the California Dairy Research Foundation (CDRF) and several partners, including CDFA and Western United Dairies, applying for and being awarded a USDA Climate Smart Commodities Grant for $85 Million. I have long been advocating for dairies to implement one solution that addresses multiple environmental issues on the dairy, and that is exactly what this grant is about. The goal of the Dairy Plus Program is to award competitive grants to CA dairy farms for the implementation of advanced manure management practices that address both methane emissions and nutrient surplus. It supplements CDFA’s AMMP and DDRDP programs to achieve greater environmental benefits. $75 Million of the grant will go directly to on-farm project implementation with up to $1.25 Million per dairy (up to $750/cow). Currently, advanced manure management practices include vermifiltration, weeping wall separation systems, and advanced separation systems assisted by flocculants and/or bead filters. Only approved practices will be funded.
As an example, a dairy could apply for up to $750K from the AMMP program and up to an additional $1.25 Million ($750/cow) from the Dairy Plus Program for a total of $2 Million for one of the above practices. Alternatively, a dairy could apply for up to $1.6 Million (50/50 match required) from the DDRDP up to an additional $1.25 Million ($750/cow) from the Dairy Plus Program for a total of $2.85 Million to build a digester with a vermifiltration or flocculant-based separation system for the digestate. Dairies can also apply for Dairy Plus funds if they have been awarded and successfully completed an AMMP or DDRDP project in the past.
There are a lot of details about the Dairy Plus Program that I have not been able to touch on here. More information, including the draft Request for Grant Applications (RGA) and slides from a webinar presentation, is available on the Dairy Plus Program website. Also, this program is still evolving and may still change from what I described here.
CDFA is also proposing some changes to the DDRDP and AMMP programs. One notable change is that they are considering allowing applicants who have previously accepted and successfully implemented an AMMP project to be eligible for a partial DDRDP grant. More information about DDRDP and AMMP can be found at the following websites https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/ddrdp/ and https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/AMMP/ respectively.
As always, if there are any questions about these grants or any other environmental issues you can reach me at the WUD office or email@example.com.