Three local dairies receive state environmental award

A cow peeks curiously through the fence of Do-Rene Dairy, one of the three local dairies recenly awarded for environmental awareness. (Staff photo: Sharna Johnson)

By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer

The New Mexico Environment Department has honored three local dairies for progressive efforts at streamlining and managing waste.

The Do-Rene Dairy and the Rajen Dairy, both of Curry County, and the Milagro Dairy of Roosevelt County received Green Zia commitment awards for their efforts.

The award signifies a commitment to the environment, said Adam Rankin, a spokesman for the Environment Department. All five New Mexico dairies that applied for the commitment honor received it.

The dairy awards differ from the award Cannon Air Force Base received last week. Cannon received an excellence-level Green Zia award, as reported last week.

The excellence award is the Environment Department’s highest honor and is given for achievement. Cannon reduced its hazardous waste by 80 percent and its solvent waste by 96 percent, Environment Department officials said.

Doug and Irene Handley, owners of Do-Rene Dairy, said they chose to seek the Green Zia recognition on the advice of environmental consultant Mary Barron. “She said it would be good for PR,” Doug Handley said.

Doug Handley said his dairy strives to comply with all laws. “We apply manure to agronomic standards,” Handley said, “and we maintain a lot of paperwork, which tracks all activities such as current rainfall and the results from soil sampling.”

Barron said she serves as environmental manager for all three of the local dairies that were recognized. “I visit them at least once a week,” Barron said. She said it is her responsibility to “keep track” of New Mexico and federal regulations regarding dairies and pass them on to dairy employees via training sessions.

The employees are also paid to attend safety classes where Barron informs them of current Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards.

Barron said the three local dairies hold themselves to a high standard and deserve to be recognized.“These dairies are environmentally aware,” Barron said. “They do what is necessary to assure their operations are above reproach.”
Barron said one major way her clients are protecting the environment is by checking the structural control of their on-site ditches and berms. She said this is important because it routes all contaminated water to a lined facility.

She described contaminated water as any water that has touched a cow’s feet, manure or urine. The consultant said the dairies are also diligently working to reduce their water use.

First Lady Barbara Richardson was on hand to honor the dairies last week in Santa Fe.

She praised the New Mexico businesses for their efforts at promoting two of Gov. Richardson’s most important initiatives — promoting New Mexico businesses and its economy, while seeking ways to protect its environment.

Lt. Gov. Diane Denish told the honorees there is no reason New Mexico businesses and the environment can’t be compatible.

“Finding the means to conserve, recycle and reuse makes good economic sense,” Denish said.