Balancing Economic and Environmental Tradeoffs for Dairy Production in California and New Zealand

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Mar 07, 2016
Rachael Garrett, Meredith Niles

This case examines the complexity of controlling for nutrients in dairy systems across New Zealand and California. Nutrients (including phosphorus and nitrogen) are of increasing concern from dairy systems in both New Zealand and California.  As dairy production has increased in these regions it has provided economic opportunities and many benefits for rural areas; simultaneously, it presents new challenges for controlling nutrient pollution, which can influence both environmental quality and public health.  This case examines the complexity of the issue from multiple perspectives and aims to provide students with diverse viewpoints.  The case enables students to identify tradeoffs and feedbacks within systems and to critically assess how different stakeholders may have competing interests.  Ultimately through in-class debates, concept mappings and presentations the students will need to determine an appropriate policy pathway forward in a given region and write a policy brief to outline the varying perspectives. The case involves multidisciplinary concepts across the ecological, agricultural, policy and social sciences and provides “real world” resources to ground the issue in the current context.

Estimated time frame: 
Multiple class periods
SES learning goals: 
  • Understand the structure and behavior of socio-environmental systems
  • Co-develop research questions and conceptual models in inter- or trans-disciplinary teams
Course and class size: 
Tested in Resource Economics and Policy (12 students)
Does this case have an answer key: 
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