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May 03, 2010   Email to Friend 

Julie B. Yates
(334) 613-4187
May 03, 2010

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- An initiative under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) designed to help dairy, beef, poultry, swine, and other agricultural operations reduce energy use has been announced by Dr. William Puckett, state conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

While this is a continuous signup, applications for 2010 funding must be received by May 21.

NRCS in Alabama will offer three levels of Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP), depending on the size of the producer's confined animal operation. The producer will hire a Technical Service Provider (TSP), techreg.usda.gov/CustLocateTSP.aspx, who is certified to complete an AgEMP. EQIP payments will be then be made directly to program participants for development of an AgEMP.

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.

"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.

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. To begin that process, producers should contact their local NRCS or Farm Service Agency Office. NRCS field offices are listed in the telephone directory under U.S. Department of Agriculture or on-line at offices.sc.egov.usda.gov For information about Agricultural Energy Management Plans, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip/cap.html.

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