New Mexico Dairies
The dairy industry in New Mexico is the number one agricultural activity in the state, with 159 dairies and approximately 325,000 milk cows. The average New Mexico dairy produces 44 million pounds of milk per year, which is worth an estimated 5.8 million dollars. New Mexico is the seventh largest milk producing state, providing 4% of the 177 billion pounds of milk produced annually in the United States.
New Mexico’s dairy industry is dominated by large-scale industrial dairies. These are also known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), and are sometimes referred to as “megafarms”. New Mexico has the highest average number of animals per facility of any state in the country (2,400 cows) and these dairies produce 5.6 million gallons of manure waste each day. In an arid state like New Mexico, all water in the state needs to be protected. Dairies in New Mexico have polluted groundwater as shallow as 3-4 ft and as deep as 400 ft. and everything in-between. According to New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) data, nearly 2/3’s of the state’s dairies currently violate state groundwater standards for nitrates; if other violations of groundwater standards are included, the number of dairies in violation increases. See below for a map of New Mexico’s dairy farms (Image source: New Mexico State University).
On December 15, 2010, The Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) passed New Mexico’s first industry-specific regulations for the dairy industry (Press Release). The regulations govern dairy waste pollution in ground water. They will require a plastic liner for manure filled wastewater impoundments, minimum setbacks from important water resources such as drinking water wells, and that dairies provide notice to property owners within a 1 mile radius of a proposed dairy that includes a map so the public can see where the dairy will be located in relation to residences and natural resources. To see the diary regulations, click here.
For the supplemental permitting requirements for dairy facilities, click here.
To see Amigo’s Bravos Testimony at the hearings prior to the passing of the regulations, click here.