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In Dairy Science, specific programs address the complex issues of animal health and welfare, dairy waste management, and water quality. Programs developed in the North Bay have national scope, serve to improve the quality and safety of milk and dairy foods, and encourage environmentally sound dairy management. The dairy program sponsors North Coast Dairy Day, an annual seminar supported by the University of California and donations from local dairy businesses. At this event, dairy farmers attend workshops on such topics as heifer replacement, equipment sanitation, nutrition, and pasture management. 

Contact: UCCE Dairy Program, (707) 565-2621

View the Milk Processing in Marin and Sonoma website for information on regulatory requirements, licensing requirements, and additional dairy resources.

Take a video tour along the Marin and Sonoma Cheese Trail (12-9-11)

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: How many cow dairies are there in Sonoma and Marin County?
A: There are 69 cow dairies in Sonoma County and 23 in Marin County.

Q: How large are Marin County and Sonoma County dairies?
A: The average dairy has 330 milk cows; the largest 1,100 milk cows; the smallest 110 milk cows.

Q: How are dairy farms regulated regarding waste management and environmental issues?
A: Dairies are regulated by two Regional Water Quality boards: the North Coast Region, which has jurisdiction over operations whose water flows into the Pacific Ocean; and the Bay Area Region, covering operations whose water flows into the San Pablo Bay. The local industry is very proactive in waste management and environmental issues. Voluntary compliance with water quality regulations is encouraged. Marin county and Sonoma County dairies work cooperatively with the Marin-Sonoma Animal Waste Committee, which consists of ranchers, members of regulating agencies, and representatives of allied industries. One of the primary forms of voluntary compliance is the completion of a ranch plan.

Q: What is a ranch plan?
A: A ranch plan is a written document, completed by the producer, detailing plans for the dairy or livestock facility. The plan consists of inventories of animals and facilities, a list of planned management practices, and an overview of natural resources. Existing and potential problems are identified, resolution projects are listed for each problem, and a timeline set for the completion of each project. To assist these changes, a monitoring program is initiated and documented. Ranch plans are not required by law at this time; however, approximately 50% of Marin-Sonoma dairy producers have completed the ranch planning process in order to protect the environment and comply with water quality regulations.

Artisan Cheese Certificate Program

A new artisan cheesemaking certificate program is launched by College of Marin at the Indian Valley campus and co-sponsored by the California Artisan Cheese Guild. Winter quarter classes begin Monday, January 30, and registration for these opens on Tuesday, January 3rd.

Register and read about the winter and spring courses at the college.

Read what past and current students are saying about the program.

Learn more about Artisan & Farmstead Cheese.