Alyssa Louie, a senior environmental scientist at CDFA, has been with the agency for seven-and-a-half years and currently works on the Dairy Digester Development and Research Program (DDRDP) and the Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP), both of which reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California, with the digester program also generating renewable energy.
How did you get interested in working for CDFA on climate-smart ag?
I’m a large animal and herd health focused veterinarian by training, and early on was drawn to ways in which our profession could be engaged with animal, public, and ecological health, food safety and security, and at the juxtaposition of agriculture with humans and wildlife. Working for the State of California and being exposed to its numerous and ambitious climate actions and goals, I developed a strong interest in climate change and its impacts on animal agriculture – how climate smart practices could work to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, as well as help agriculture adapt to challenges brought on by climate change and thrive sustainably in tandem with the community and as stewards of the environment. The opportunity to work with cattle (well, their manure at least) and climate smart agriculture was something I couldn’t pass up.
What about this work do you find fulfilling?
Advancing climate smart agriculture practices in California allows me to support animal agriculture and livestock health and work to combat climate change. To do so in a fairly direct manner by awarding grants and seeing the results in new equipment, composting areas, barns that have increased efficiency of manure handling, nutrient management, animal health and comfort, and water use on these operations a year or two later can be gratifying and unique. The kind words of appreciation for the program and our efforts from grant recipients and supporters of California’s diverse cattle industry, hearing about their proactive commitment to sustainability, and getting to see cows eating, romping, and lounging during project verification definitely doesn’t hurt. Did I mention I really like cows?
What do you hope CDFA’s methane emissions reduction programs can accomplish in the next year?
The Alternative Manure Management Program is constantly striving to evolve and improve to help achieve the methane reduction goals of the State, and to aid with California dairy and livestock operators. Along with its sister programs and efforts in methane reduction (Dairy Digester Research and Development Program, organic waste composting, and short-lived climate pollutants), we’re hoping to expand goals to better integrate nutrient management in addition to methane reduction, improve access to technical assistance for application and project implementation, see projects awarded in new regions, and support research validating existing methane reduction strategies and exploring new ones such as addressing enteric emissions.
Combined, CDFA has awarded 232 projects through the AMMP and DDRDP programs, resulting in a reduction of more than 22.1 million metric tons of greenhouse gas over the expected lifespan of the projects.