USDA-NRCS and Milk Industry Development Fund to Help Puerto Rico Dairy Farmers Save Energy & Money
July 26, 2011 – San Juan, PR – The NRCS Caribbean Area State Office, in partnership with the Milk Industry Development Fund (MIDF), is pleased to announce the launching of a new initiative designed to help agricultural producers transition to more energy efficient operations. The initiative will make funding available for individual on-farm energy audits designed to save farmers both money and energy.
“This is a great opportunity for the dairy farmers in the Caribbean Area,” said NRCS Caribbean Area Director, Edwin Almodovar. “With these Agricultural Energy Management Plans, dairy farmers will be making better decisions. We are glad for this opportunity to partner with the MIDF, MIRO, PR Dept of Agriculture and EnSave.”
The energy audits will be individually tailored to ensure coverage of each farm's primary energy uses such as milk cooling, irrigation pumping, heating and cooling of livestock production facilities, manure collection and transfer, grain drying, and similar common on-farm activities.
NRCS and MIDF are working together to implement the program. MIDF are conducting outreach and have selected 50 eligible farmers to participate in the program. They will provide financial services and outreach to private land users, through certified Technical Service Provider (TSP), EnSave, Inc., to develop Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMPs) and other types of renewable energy efficiencies implemented to reduce dairy operation costs in Puerto Rico, with cost-share assistance from NRCS.
The National Association of Resource Conservation & Development Councils (NARC&DC) funded and conducted a Farm Energy Audit Data Collector Training certification workshop on April 25, 2011 for 16 EnSave, PR Agriculture Department, Extension Service and El Atlántico RC&D personnel and private engineers. Data Collector trainees learned methods for completing audits within the program and their role within the larger process. The field training took place on three PR dairy farms and one poultry farm, where workshop participants performed visual inspections of equipment, found and recorded equipment name plate information, and most importantly worked with the farmers to collect the information needed to complete the data collection forms and enter the data collected on the forms into the electronic data collection database.
The personnel trained in April are now conducting the on-farm energy audits for eligible producers to identify how farm operations can become more energy-efficient. The on-farm energy audit results will then be used to develop cost-effective AgEMPs.
Eligible dairy producer participants of the Dairy Farm High Quality Production Unit (Unidad de Calidad de Alto Rendimiento, UCAR) may apply for the AgEMP assistance at their local NRCS office. EQIP payments are made directly to program participants for development of an AgEMP by certified Technical Service Provider (TSP), EnSave, Inc.
The 2008 Farm Bill provides NRCS with the authority to use EQIP financial assistance to fund installation of practices and conservation activities as part of an Agricultural Energy Management Plan (AgEMP) developed for each program participant’s the eligible land.
For more information on the Farm Energy Audit Data Collector training program or the new Dairy Energy Efficiency Initiative, please contact Mr. Jose Castro, Assistant Director, at 787-766-5206 x226 or Jose.Castro@pr.usda.gov, or Mr. Jaime Valentine, State Resource Conservationist, at 787-766-5206 x229 or Jaime.Valentin@pr.usda.gov.