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Kings County’s Lakeside biogas pipeline could link 18 dairies / Milk prices fall

December 20,2017

Covering around 35 miles, the new Lakeside Pipeline project would connect as many as 18 Kings County dairies ( a cluster of 8 to begin with) to a buried biogas pipeline and the SoCal Gas distribution system In an effort to cut methane emissions. If successful , the state incentives and restrictions could turn a pollution problem, particulates in our air, into a money maker for farmers, moving the gas out of the air shed and selling the biogas as a renewable transportation fuel.

The pipeline project near 7th Ave, is the subject of a new Kings County conditional use permit application. The pipeline would spread out like a spider web to dairies who have their own covered lagoons and digesters, then come together on a 3.3 acre site owned by Jacob and Nicole DeJong, where equipment would upgrade the gas to be injected into the SoCal Gas network.

November ground breaking in Pixley

November ground breaking in Pixley

Developing the pioneering project is Daryl Maas of Mass Energy Works of Redding who is also working with the Pixley biogas cluster of dairies connecting 8 to 10 of them with pipe being laid now to 2 of them. The project will be the first in the state to connect to SoCal Gas’s system, the utility has said.

Maas says while dairymen area skeptical bunch, more are seeing that “the technology works and the offers to buy are promising.”

Lakeside layout click to enlarge

Lakeside layout
click to enlarge

In a related development CDFA has announced it would fund an additional $61-$75 million in projects to help dairies install digesters to cut methane emissions with applications due January 26. A workshop will held in Tulare on January 4 from 1 to 3 PM at the Ag Commissioner’s office.CDFA has already funded $35 million in projects including digesters at three Kings County dairies, none part of the Lakeside cluster.

Milk prices slide – too much of a good thing?

CME milk prices are down again this week to $13.61 for February.They were up around $16 per cwt as recently as October. Especially hard hit is the non-fat dried milk (NFDM) spot prices now – down to 64.75 cents as of December 19. That is the lowest of the year. A huge portion of the nation’s NFDM supply comes through the big California dairy co-ops with many Kings County members, who feel the pain in their milk checks.

A year ago in January 2017, NFDM prices were above $1. Milk Producers Council recently told its members that the world is awash in milk, especially NFDM.  “Warehouses in the U.S. and Europe are bursting with powder, and driers are running hard for the holidays.” Demand is good for butter but when you make butter  – you have make more dried milk powder as well.

If there is just too much milk across the US there is some hope now that Wisconsin dairyman will not be using as much rBST to boost their milk supply in 2018 when close to 90 percent of the state’s milk will be rBST free.

For now the US milk supply continues to grow.USDA estimates milk production in the 23 major U.S. States increased 1.5% in October 2017, compared to October 2016. But not here. California milk production decreased 1.5% compared to October 2016 (with 13,000 less cows and 15 less pounds of milk per cow)

The growth hormone rBST, when injected into a cow, could cause a 10-25 percent increase in milk production says a UC Davis study. But it also tends to balloon the milk supply and arguably that lowers prices when demand is not there.

Consumers are pressing  processors to ban the stuff with California dairymen already pretty much there. In California all the big processors require the milk they receive be rBST free.

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