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News Release

NRCS Announces Initiative to Improve Agricultural Energy Conservation and Efficiency

Individual Energy Audits Will Help Producers Reduce Energy Use

AUBURN, AL -  April 30, 2010

The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Dr. William Puckett today announced an initiative under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) designed to help agricultural producers transition to more energy efficient operations. Applications are being accepted through May 21, 2010. While this is a continuous signup, applications for 2010 funding must be received by the cut-off date.

NRCS in Alabama will offer three levels of Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) plans depending on the size of the producer’s confined animal operation. The producer will hire a Technical Service Provider (TSP), which is certified to complete an AgEMP. EQIP payments will be made directly to program participants for development of an AgEMP by a certified TSP.

“Reducing energy use on Alabama's farms and ranches will not only help our agricultural producers become more profitable, but also help America become more energy independent," said Puckett. "Through this initiative, producers will be able to receive individual on-farm energy audit evaluations and assistance with implementation of energy conservation and efficiency measures."  For instance, switching from incandescent to U-tube fluorescent lights can save energy needed for lighting by 75 percent. In a 40,000-bird-broiler operation, this equates to a savings of nearly 18,000 kilowatt-hours per year. At a typical electric rate of eight cents per kilowatt, this becomes a savings of over $1,400 per year per broiler house.

Dairy, beef, poultry, swine, and other agricultural operations are included in this energy efficiency initiative. NRCS, in partnership with USDA-Rural Development, will implement the agricultural energy conservation and efficiency initiative.

Energy audits will be individually tailored to ensure coverage of each farm's primary energy uses such as milk cooling, heating and cooling of livestock production facilities, grain drying, and similar on-farm activities. Simple changes in confined animal operations can help farmers and ranchers achieve significant cost and energy savings.

Interested producers should visit their nearest USDA Service Center to determine eligibility. Individuals are not eligible for EQIP until they have completed the Farm Bill eligibility requirements. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office or Farm Service Agency Office to begin this process. NRCS field offices are listed in the telephone directory under U.S. Department of Agriculture or on-line at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov. For information about agricultural energy management plans visit: www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip/cap.html.

This year represents the 75th year of NRCS "Helping People Help the Land." Since its inception the NRCS conservation delivery system has advanced a unique partnership with state and local governments and private landowners delivering conservation based on specific, local conservation needs, while accommodating state and national interests.