​Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible for Environmental Stewardship certification?
Any dairy producer (dairy cows) in California can become certified. This program is offered statewide.

Why should I become certified in Environmental Stewardship?
Certification reassures your neighbors, any passers-by, and you that the facility meets all federal, state and local environmental regulations. Certification reduces Water Quality Control Board fee charges by 50 percent. A fee schedule explaining the type of savings that can be realized by certifying can be found here.

How much will Environmental Stewardship Certification cost me?
Evaluations cost $550. This includes up to five hours of on-farm evaluation. If the evaluation requires more time, or if the evaluator must return to the facility for a second site visit, additional hours will be billed at an hourly rate of $100. Certification lasts for 5 years. At this time, certified dairies receive a 50 percent discount on their annual permit fees. This amounts to a substantial savings over the 5 year certification period.

What do I need to do to be certified in Environmental Stewardship?
An individual involved in the day-to-day management of the facility must attend 6 hours of CDQAP water quality classes and 2 hours of air quality class (San Joaquin Valley). The facility needs a current Environmental Stewardship farm management plan (all plans required per regulations). The individual responsible for manure management will be present during the on-site evaluation by the CDQAP evaluator.

Who will perform the third-party evaluations?
Currently, the designated third-party evaluator is an independent contractor with the California Dairy Research Foundation. He is retired after several decades in the milk inspection unit of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). In addition, he led the CDQAP evaluation and certification program through CDFA for over 10 years. He has prior experience as a dairy owner/operator. A third-party evaluator must not have a vested interest in the outcome of the evaluation.

Can my dairy field representative or consultant certify my facility?
No. However, your field representative can help you prepare for your on-site evaluation.

Will the evaluation results or my information be shared with anyone else?
No. The evaluation checklist and records examined during the evaluation will not be removed from the dairy. Documents will remain the property of the dairy producer. CDQAP will never release any information about your facility without obtaining your specific permission to do so.

Will participating in the CDQAP certification program keep me from being inspected by regulatory agencies (Air District, Regional Board, EPA)?
No. Staff from these agencies work closely with CDQAP. They provide input to checklist modifications. They do not influence the outcome of your evaluation. CDQAP has no influence over the inspections conducted by regulatory agency staff. The CDQAP evaluation and certification is your best management tool to prepare for these regulatory inspections.

What happens if, during the on-site evaluation, deficiencies are identified?
Your awareness increases. You and the evaluator will work together to determine what actions will be taken and arrange a date for re-evaluation once the deficiencies have been corrected. You may choose to discontinue the certification process at any time.

How does certification help the California dairy industry?
Participation in this program may reduce or eliminate the need for additional government regulations. It gives trade associations and the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) a positive story to tell and provides evidence that California dairy producers are working to protect the environment. Voluntary participation will result in improved compliance with regulations, which will prevent situations that result in fines to your facility. Additionally, some processors may choose to use this program as a marketing tool to their customers.

How much is this program worth to me?
Knowing that your facility is in compliance with all environmental regulations is invaluable. You will save 50 percent of your annual Regional Water Quality Control Board fees.

Are there other financial benefits?
In addition to the potential reduced regulatory costs and marketing benefits mentioned previously, the training and on-site evaluation may identify improvements that could reduce dairy management costs, minimize disease, and increase production for your facility.