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Join California dairy farmers in their world-leading, planet-smart efforts

A letter from Charles “Chuck” Ahlem, a California dairy farmer

On behalf of the California dairy community, we invite you to join us for the second California Dairy Sustainability Summit, taking place March 25-26 at Cal Expo in Sacramento. In 2018, we came together for a first-of its-kind event, to recognize the achievements of dairy farm families and support them as they continue their sustainability efforts. Since then, much progress has been made through tremendous partnerships and investments, and ongoing research. While our work is not done, our accomplishments to date are astounding.

As we gather again soon, we continue to strive to do even more to protect our shared land, water, air, and climate. Collaboration remains critical as we work to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of our family farms. It is also essential that we work together to share our story and recognize how our efforts to develop planet-smart farming practices are helping create a truly sustainable global food system.

For many of us dairy farmers, our stories began with just a few cows and a dream. With great passion, our ancestors cared for those cows, producing milk to nourish other families, as well as our own. Through many changing and challenging times, we’ve done what we can to keep the farm afloat, taking leaps of faith, using the latest research as a guide, and investing in new strategies and tools. Our farms do not look the same as they did 50 years ago. We have designed and updated them so we can provide top-quality animal care and comfort, while making the most out of natural resources—recycling water, producing solar energy, managing manure nutrients, and overall, producing more with less.

Through the Summit’s many educational and inspiring presentations, we will learn just how much California dairy farmers have reduced their environmental footprint and what that means for the planet and the global dairy supply chain. We will also learn about trends in the ever-changing retail market and consumers’ expectations for animal care and environmental stewardship.

We know those expectations are high, and come during a challenging time for us California dairy farmers. We are striving to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, while meeting new regulatory requirements for water protection and conservation. An open dialogue is essential as governments, companies, and organizations across the globe discuss aspirational environmental goals. Together, we can develop pathways to achieving these goals while sustaining family farms.

California is already demonstrating what can be done through strong partnerships. By capturing methane on our dairy farms and creating clean-burning fuel or electricity for vehicle charging, we are helping the state meet its clean energy and climate goals—improving air quality and cooling the planet.

Let us remember that while so much has changed over the years, our core values are still the same. We are still families, trying to provide the best care possible for our cows and nutritious and enjoyable dairy products for our local and global communities. Let us also remember that as we continue to improve here in California, our efforts must inspire changes across the world to truly protect our planet.

As dairy farmers travel from across the state to Sacramento, we hope you too can join us for this important meeting. There is no doubt that we will continue to face economic and environmental challenges. But, through the education and networking to take place at the California Dairy Sustainability Summit, we will be more prepared to find solutions—protecting the future of California’s world-leading family dairy farms and ensuring a sustainable and nutritious global food system.

We invite you to join us in supporting family farmers’ planet-smart dairy efforts.

Register today for the California Dairy Sustainability Summit at

Featured Speakers – 2020 California Dairy Sustainability Summit

The agenda features dairy farmers, state officials, technology providers, researchers, industry leaders, and other experts, to discuss the continued advancement of dairy sustainability—in California and across the globe.

California dairy farmers:

  • Frank Fernandes, Partner, Legacy Ranches

  • Erin Nutcher, Dairy Farmer, Hidden Valley Dairy

  • Joey Airoso, Dairy Farmer, Circle A Dairy

State and local officials:

  • Kate Gordon, Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Newsom on Climate

  • Lenny Mendonca, Chief Economic and Business Advisor to Governor Newsom

  • Patrick Pulupa, Executive Officer, Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board

University researchers/ environmental and nutrition science experts:

  • Ermias Kebreab, PhD, Sesnon Endowed Chair in Sustainable Animal Agriculture, University of California, Davis

  • Ruihong Zhang, PhD, Professor, University of California, Davis

  • Greg Miller, PhD, Global Science Officer for National Dairy Council

Technology providers and key partners:

  • Neil Black, President, California Bioenergy

  • Daryl Maas, Chief Executive Officer, Maas Energy Works

  • Vijay Srivatsan, Head of Product Management, Bloom Energy

Representatives from environmental incentive programs:

  • California Department of Food and Agriculture

  • USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service

  • San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District



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