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May 23, 2013

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Big environmental impact on California

"China has been going through a major economic growth boom over the last 20 years, and that has fueled consumption of dairy products," he said. "We know a lot of these markets will grow ten- or twentyfold over the next few decades. By being there now, we can be at the start of the growth." And it's this potential for growth that has Newell and other environmental activists concerned. "We're bearing the burden of all this pollution for a product that is being exported," he said. "It is fundamentally unfair and unjust to burden low-income communities in the San Joaquin Valley with all of this pollution." And shipping the state's limited water supply, in the form of alfalfa, is a concern to many as well.Robert Glennon, a professor at the University of Arizona with expertise in water law, argues that it doesn't make sense to be "using so much water to send such a low-value product to China." But while Chinese demand for dairy is increasing by double-digit percentages every year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Newell and others say it's also likely temporary. That's because Chinese entrepreneurs are trying to meet the growing demand by starting their own dairy farms. That could reduce demand for California dairy products, and because China has a limited amount of arable land and water, Chinese farmers would need to import more feed, including water-hungry alfalfa. And that could bring California's dairies to the same place they are today -- struggling to pay the high cost of feed. Related Stories mNv GVo  (Jun 18, 2013 | post #1)