Got milk? Chances are it’s from California. There are more cows in the Golden State than anywhere else in the country. But all that milk and cheese comes at a cost to the planet.
Tom Frantz keeps a running count. He says dairy farms have taken over his farming community in the San Joaquin Valley. “There are ten of them within what I call smelling distance of my home,” he said, noting they’ve moved in in just the last 10 years.
We’re not talking about mom-and-pop operations. “These are milk factories,” said Frantz. “We went from zero cows to about 60,000 cows, within about five miles of where I live.”
Why is that a problem? You might have guessed: cow manure. “6,000 animals in one dairy has the waste stream of a city of half a million people,” said Frantz.
But unlike a city, most dairies don’t treat their waste. They dump it into open lagoons and just let it evaporate. “This waste stream is just rotting in these giant lagoons,” said Frantz.