NRCS Targets Six Counties for Ag Energy Management Plans
Auburn, Alabama - March 8, 2010
As energy becomes a larger portion of a farmer's operating costs, farmers and ranchers can cut input costs, maintain production, protect soil and water resources, reduce the nation's dependence on fossil fuels, and save money by implementing conservation practices that promote energy conservation and efficiency. Since 1935, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has provided leadership in a partnership effort to help America's private landowners and managers conserve their soil, water, and other natural resources through Conservation Activity Plans (CAP). Energy conservation and energy efficiency are becoming important aspects of how NRCS delivers technical and financial assistance. NRCS and Rural Development are collaborating on ways to help producers lower their energy requirements.
Alabama producers with confined livestock operations will have an opportunity to receive financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program for an Agricultural Energy Management Plan (AgEMP). The plan contains the strategy by which the producer will explore and address his/her on-farm energy problems and opportunities.
The producer will hire a Technical Service Provider which is certified to complete an AgEMP. The AgEMP documents current energy usage, over the past annual cycle, and provides cost-effective alternatives and recommendations for energy conservation of each farm enterprise. The evaluation of energy conservation activities shall include energy used in the feeding, housing, and processing of farm animals and animal products.
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.
NRCS in Alabama will offer three levels of energy plans depending on the size of the producer’s operation. Applications are being accepted through March 19, 2010, in the following counties: Coffee, Dale, DeKalb, Colbert, Cullman, and Franklin. While this is a continuous signup, applications for 2010 funding must be received by the cut-off date.
Interested producers should visit the 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.