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News Release

NRCS Announces Initiative to Improve Energy Conservation and Efficiency:

Assistance Available to Producers to Conduct and Implement Energy Audits

Auburn, Ala. January 31, 2011

USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Dr. William Puckett today announced the expansion of an initiative under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to help farmers and ranchers conduct energy audits and improve overall energy efficiency of their operations. Applications are being accepted through February 25, 2011. While this is a continuous sign-up, applications for 2011 funding must be received by the cut-off date.

“On-farm energy audits will provide producers an opportunity to assess their energy usage and make needed improvements,” Puckett said. “This initiative will not only benefit the environment, but also help America become more energy independent."

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), http://techreg.usda.gov/CustLocateTSP.aspx, 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.

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 NRCS 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