Select Milk Producers, Inc., a Dallas-based dairy cooperative that processes and markets milk for more than 100 farms, over the weekend was forced to shut down its Littlefield, Texas processing plant after the plant’s natural gas supplier had to ration supply to help heat residential homes. Separate shutdowns of the cooperatives processing plants in El Paso and Lubbock have left Select’s Chief Executive, Rance C. Miles, with about 150 tanker loads of milk each day that the cooperative couldn’t process. Now Select’s dairy farmers are dumping that milk, worth more than $1 million daily, onto their fields.
But dairy was not the only ag sector involved. Beef cattle feed lots with about 2.9 million head – – the most in the nation – – were affected as well as poultry.
Putting Renewable Energy In Context
There isn’t anyone I know that doesn’t support renewable energy. It is clean, environmentally friendly and most important, renewable. But before we get rid of all other forms of energy and rely entirely on solar and wind, let’s put the whole question of energy in the context of demand and supply.
The U.S. needs to have plan to move toward a renewable energy future. It needs to be done in a structured process as we phase out fossil fuels and
Natural gas has been a very good source of energy. It is clean and has given us the back-up we need to start moving to a much higher percentage of renewables from other sources. The process of moving to total renewable energy needs to be staged over time. We need a number of sources. How about methane gas from the livestock sector. Both the gas can be used for energy as well and it can be converted to electricity. Not much is being said about that but studies show it can provide a sizeable amount of our energy needs. Anaerobic digesters are expensive but research in new technologies to convert manure into energy more cheaply are on the horizon.
I think at this point it is a mistake to stop the construction of the XL pipeline since it still gives us a back up source of energy until we have a multiple number of renewable sources available. Relying on just a few sources of renewable energy can make us vulnerable to black outs and brown outs in the future. An available, affordable and constant source of energy is needed to keep the U.S. economy vibrant and our citizens safe.
Editor’s Note: Originally appears in the Northeast Dairy Farmers Cooperatives NDFC Newsletter on February 19, 2021.